The launch at the RMS Titanic in Belfast on May 31, 1911 attracted 100,000 people – about a third of the city's population. At the time, it was the largest ship ever built.
I learned this from a visit to the spectacular Titanic museum in Belfast, where I joined the new Seabourn Ovation on its British Isles cruise – from Ireland to the Scottish Highlands and back to Dublin, waving to Wales (Holyhead) and England (Liverpool) along the way.
It may seem perverse to visit a convicted transatlantic memorial just as you are about to embark on a cruise, but the museum was very tempting with its view of glamorous travel in the 1910s.
Seabourn Ovation, where all staterooms have balconies, mini-fridges stocked with full-size bottles of your favorite drink, lots of wardrobe space and marble bathrooms
Like the Ovation, the Titanic was the next-generation ship of its time, with first-class passengers living in oak-paneled cabins, while even third-class passengers enjoyed running water – something most Belfast houses lacked. . The time. But then the similarities end.
Modern cruises no longer have rigid passenger classes – just different cabin categories, from modest size to oversized suites. Unhappy Titanic lovers Rose and Jack (Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in the 1997 movie) would have no barriers to mingle today.
At Ovation, all staterooms have balconies, mini-fridges stocked with full-size bottles of your favorite drink, lots of wardrobe space and marble bathrooms.
The unfortunate lovers of the Titanic, Rose and Jack (Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in the 1997 movie). During a stop in Belfast, cruisers can visit the Titanic Museum
Most of my fellow travelers were well-stocked (& # 39; my family founded Nashville & # 39;) and traveled Americans with a vague mastery of European geography (& # 39; there's the Colosseum! & # 39 ;, said one of them). when we docked at Oban).
There was a lot of fun to keep guests busy, from auditions to lectures, wellness seminars to bridge sessions, and in the evening, shows and live music in the theater and bars.
On a sea day, I indulged in the exclusive Retreat on the upper deck, where Bollinger ran in his chaise lounge. With 24-hour ship-wide service, drinks and caviar on request and a choice of six exceptional restaurants, eating can be a full-time occupation.
At Dundee, I had my own guide, who led me to the glorious Glamis Castle, where I hoped to find Macbeth's ghostly presence. As it turned out, the bard took liberties with history: the castle (the late Queen Mother's childhood home) had not yet been built in Macbeth's day.
Also, Dundee is looking forward. The forefront of the city's renaissance is V&A Dundee. Just over a year old, she celebrates Scottish design (think of Charles Rennie Mackintosh) and is situated by the sea, next to Discovery, which brought Scott and Shackleton to Antarctica in 1901.
Among the jewels of natural beauty are the "Islands" of Lewis and Harris, which are confusingly a single land mass, differentiated by the flatness of the former and the hills of the latter.
We drove through an exquisite color palette – deep blue lakes, murky brown currents, lush green, swampy heath and purple heather.
We saw almost a soul until we reached Harris's famous tweed shops – which were as frantic as the first day of a Harrods sale.
Glamis Castle, near Dundee, the Queen Mother's childhood home. Dundee is one of the stops on Seabourn Ovation's British Isles cruise
Sailing north to the Orkney, I visited the mysterious Brodgar Ring – much older than Stonehenge – whose 27 remaining stones from the original 60 were eroded by time.
Scotland is, above all, the land of romantic castles and complicated clan history – and the tours have yielded many.
There were the fabulous ruins of 13th century Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness, which St. Columba visited in 565 AD and, incidentally, made the first appearance of 'Nessie'.
Best of all, however, was the trip along the winding ex-drover road from Oban to Mallaig, the small fishing town on the west coast of the Highlands.
The spectacular setting was brought to life with stories of skirmishes between the MacDonalds and the Campbells, and about Bonnie Prince Charlie, who raised the Stuart standard in Glenfinnan, only to be defeated at Culloden, finally paying for the Jacobite claim to the throne.
We took The Jacobite express back to Fort William, the steam locomotive that blew over Glenfinnan's famous 21-arched, curved Concrete Bob's viaduct. McAlpine – familiar to fans of Harry Potter movies like the bridge where a Ford Anglia flew Hogwarts Express.
When we got back on board, it was 6 pm and we were very hungry – a rather rare feeling on a cruise. But first things first: I took a bubble bath and ordered bubbly champagne.
Teresa Levonian Cole was invited to the 14-day British Isles Classics by Seabourn Ovation. Seabourn Quest's 15-day journey from the British Isles and Iceland leaves June 8, 2020, at £ 6,742 pp, including meals (seabourn.com0843 373 2000).
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