By Friday, September 15th, we finally left Larne and headed for our next port in Belfast. As we pulled into the huge commercial port, we spotted two large cruise ships, Caribbean Princess of Princess Cruise Lines and Oceana’s Nautica. Caribbean Princess is a huge ship that carries several thousand passengers, while Nautica carries a few hundred. Hebridean Princess is positively lilliputian by comparison. I couldn’t help but feel kind of grateful we weren’t on those huge vessels.
Lemon waffles with berries and sausage for breakfast.
On Friday morning, Hebridean Princess arranged for us to visit Hillsborough, a charming town in County Down which serves as home to Hillsborough Castle. As we walked around the grounds, I couldn’t help but notice many people from one of the big lines, all wearing stickers indicating a group number. I figured they’d have to make choices as to what they were going to see during their time in Belfast. In a way, that might have been liberating, since you can choose what you want to see. On the other hand, it was nice to be able to see Hillsborough Castle and the Titanic Experience on the same day.
As I mentioned previously, I’m not really huge on visiting houses or castles. We ended up skipping the house tour and just walked around the gardens. When we were finished looking around, we were invited to a tea house across the street for tea and scones. It was a charming place with very nice scones and other pastries. Unfortunately, the staff was so weeded that Bill and I ended up sitting there for about fifteen minutes before anyone acknowledged us. We did enjoy tea and I had a very fresh scone that made me want to learn how to make them myself. We were too late to get on the house tour, so we hung out in the parking lot and chatted with Bryan, the guide, and one of the other two American passengers.
Caribbean Princess in the distance.
Oceana Nautica. I prefer Hebridean Princess.
I took this video after watching these guys try and fail several times to catch the rope so they could tie the boat to the dock. I happened to catch them right after they finally caught the rope. They were pretty patient.
A few shots of Hillsborough Castle and the surrounding grounds.
A view of the city of Hillsborough.
The tea room where we had our mid morning break.
Tea and scones… or one scone for me. It was served with cream, butter, and preserves. Yum!
After our visit to Hillsborough Castle, we went back to the ship and had lunch. Although I was tempted by the fish and chips that were being offered, I decided to have a sandwich. Bill had chili, which was surprisingly good. I was particularly impressed by the guacamole.
Bill liked his chili!
I had a BLT with avocado. I don’t usually like raw tomatoes, but these were good. It was nice to have something comparatively light for a change.
However, I couldn’t pass up the chocolate orange mousse. The chef on this cruise seemed to enjoy sprinkles. He used them a few times.
After lunch, we took a very short trip around the corner to visit the Titanic Experience. I am probably one of only a few Americans who never watched the film starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. I had a very limited knowledge of the Titanic before I visited this huge exhibition in Belfast. Let me just say, the place was a zoo! It was very crowded. But, I think if I had time to really explore it and it wasn’t teeming with crowds, I would really enjoy seeing it.
Not the best picture of the outside. It’s a really huge building.
This is a “ride” you can take. It lasts maybe a minute or two and gives a basic history of what it was like to build the Titanic cruise ship.
I took this photo of Hebridean Princess from one of the windows.
And here is another shot of the Caribbean Princess by contrast!
A replica of one of the staterooms on the Titanic.
Some of the heroes involved in the disaster… perhaps?
Exhibits that tell the story. There were many artifacts and interactive activities, but so many people were visiting that it was hard to really enjoy them.
Nifty diver’s suit.
I really need to sit down and watch the movie, I guess. Everyone’s seen it. The Titanic’s story is amazing and tragic. On the other hand, I almost have to wonder about a cruise line arranging a visit to an exhibit about another cruise ship’s untimely demise! Just kidding. Hebridean Princess has been in service since 1964. She’s very seaworthy!
After we visited the Titanic Exhibition, we went back to the ship and enjoyed more locally produced beers. While we were there, Ian joined us. He had a beer and a dram of scotch, which Bill got a kick out of. It’s heartening to see a man enjoying his whisky into his 90s. When it came time for us to get ready for dinner, Bill gently took Ian’s arm and helped him down the stairs. I wish I had gotten a picture of them because it was kind of a moving scene. I was reminded of why I enjoy being Bill’s wife so much. He’s a true gentleman.