|05/04/2012||Liverpool, England||Liverpool's Titanic Heritage||Glorious day!|
|06/04/2012||Belfast, Northern Ireland||City Drive & Titanic Belfast||Super new exhibition!|
|08/04/2012||Southampton, UK||Ocean Village & Old City|
I was not particularly looking forward to this Titanic Mini Cruise, but it turned out to be one of the best I have ever been on! Arriving at Southampton I glimpsed Margaret Hobbs & Joyce Carey just leaving the ship. On board I met Dr Brian & Joyce Dunn just getting off after the circumnavigation of South America. The weather was mixed with a force 10 gale in the Irish Sea, but glorious the next day in Liverpool.
There was no dance couple on board so on the first sea day I led a Social Foxtrot class. Fortunately the lovely Carole Bargh and James Boxer were on board as passengers so they helped me out with the instruction. Also on board was the lovely Pat Watson from Hinckley and some oriental ladies that I had also met before and all of which were excellent dancers. Keen line dancers Hazel & Mike were also on board so we all had a grand time.
In the first port of call, Liverpool, I was an escort on the Titanic Heritage tour. The first stop was Crosby beach to see Anthony Gormley's iron men statues. We then gawped at the three officers' houses on the Marine Crescent belonging to White Star Director Thomas Ismay, Titanic Captain Ted Smith and the Titanic's Purser. The owner of Captain Smith's house, Rose Gallagher, came out to greet us and tell us that Kate Winslet's character in the Titanic feature film had been named after her. Then she invited some of us into the living room complete with grand marble fireplace. She gave me an interesting set of postcards and a pile of business cards to give out.
At Liverpool Anglican Cathedral we lost a Polish man and after waiting 15 minutes sped off without him! Having spent too much time at Captain Smith's house we only had time to drop most of the passengers at the Merseyside Maritime Musuem before returning to the ship. In the afternoon I went back into the city to the impressive new Liverpool Museum on the pier head. Fortunately they offered free wi-fi. I then toured the Maritime Museum and Tate Art Gallery at the Albert Dock before doing some shopping. I was very impressed with Liverpool's regeneration, not having been to the Pier Head there for many years. That evening I led the participation line dancing in the Neptune Lounge as usual.
In the next port of call I escorted the City Drive & Titanic Belfast tour on Good Friday. We photographed the murals on the Catholic Falls Road before heading out to Stormont and the brand new Titanic Exhibition. This was very impressive with nine audio-visual galleries telling the Titanic story. The internal ride was interesting with the cars displaying many degrees of freedom as they waltzed along! The best exhibit was the virtual lift taking you up from the engine room to the bridge. The final gallery simulated a submarine dive over the sea bed wreckage, this was very atmospheric but I ran out of time to fully appreciate it.
In the afternoon I took the free shuttle bus back into the city but struggled to find free wi-fi until I chanced upon the Apple Store in the new Victoria Shopping Centre. This has a spectacular glass roof, but I wouldn't want to be in there if a bomb goes off!
On the final sea day I led another line dancing class in the morning and a Social Rumba class in the afternoon. A couple asked me for a private quickstep lesson which I gave them in the gym. I declined to be paid but accepted their kind offer of cocktails in the Observatory (formerly the Top of the Crown). As we parted I gave them my business card and his revealed him to be Jim Fitzpatrick Labour MP for Limehouse & Poplar! He had been Minister for London amongst other appointments in the previous government and he invited me to take tea with him in the House of Commons!
Back in Southampton on Easter Sunday I went into the Ocean Village to find some free wi-fi outside a restaurant, before doing a photographic tour of the old city. Unfortunately the next cruise was boarding early so I had to queue up to get back on board but I did at least get caught on the Sky News cameras!