NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

CNHI Special Projects

April 7, 2012

Belfast draws tourists to site where doomed ship was built

BELFAST, Northern Ireland — One minute you're being whisked through the busy Belfast shipyard where the Titanic is being built. The next you're contemplating, amid a chilly piped-in breeze and lights mimicking darkened waters, the horror of freezing to death in the North Atlantic.

In between, Belfast's impressive new tourist attraction — the 100-million pound ($160 million, €120 million) Titanic Belfast visitor center — offers a loving portrait of the excitement, ambition and opulence surrounding the doomed trans-Atlantic liner.

The Associated Press received a sneak preview of Titanic Belfast before its opening last weekend.

With 100,000 tickets already sold, Belfast is betting it will deliver a lasting tonic of tourism to the conflict-scarred city. A three-week festival featuring talks, walks and seven Titanic-themed stage shows — including "Titanic The Musical" — also begins Saturday to mark the 100th anniversary of the ship's launching.

Any visitor's first impression will be of center's stunning exterior: four jutting prows of the ship, lined in silver steel paneling, six stories high.

The Belfast Titanic marketing director, Claire Bradshaw, said the aim was to create an icon that people would come to associate with Belfast — like the Eiffel Tower for Paris or the Statue of Liberty for New York.

The center sits beside the Belfast Lough dockside where the 46,329-ton vessel was built from 1909 to 1911 and set sail for her sea trials on April 2, 1912. Titanic began her fateful maiden voyage from the English port of Southampton eight days later, striking an iceberg just before midnight April 14 and sinking within hours with the loss of 1,514 lives.

A roller coaster-like ride takes visitors, up to six per carriage, up and down three floors of a re-creation of the Harland & Wolff shipyards that made the ship for Liverpool's White Star Line. No, there's no thrills or spills, just a panoramic tour suggesting the scale of the hull and the energy of the dock workers, all of them video projections of actors in period costumes. Those aboard can hear the commentary in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian or Chinese.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
CNHI Special Projects

Offbeat
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans