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Royal Yacht Britannia (Leith)

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8 Reviews

Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia was the 83rd Royal Yacht since the restoration of King Charles II in 1660. She is now permanently moored as an exhibition ship at Ocean Terminal, Leith harbour, Edinburgh, Scotland. HMY Britannia was built at the shipyard of John Brown & Co. Ltd in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland, being launched by Queen Elizabeth II on 16 April 1953 and commissioned on 11 January 1954. During her career as Royal Yacht (she was designed to be converted into a hospital ship in time of war, though this facility was never used), she conveyed the Queen, other members of the Royal Family, and various dignitaries on 696 foreign visits and 272 visits in British waters. Prince Charles and Princess Diana took a honeymoon cruise aboard Britannia in 1981. She also evacuated over 1,000 refugees from the civil war in Aden in 1986. In addition, the ship was intended to serve as a mobile refuge for the British Royal Family in the event of nuclear warfare with the Soviet Union. Guest included U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf, who commented when he saw the engines: "Well, I've now seen the museum pieces. Where are the real engines?"

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    8 Reviews
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      20.08.2010 15:24
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      A great way to spend a morning or afternoon in Edinburgh

      Whilst on a weekend break in Edinburgh recently, we took the opportunity of visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia, a very popular attraction for visitors to see just outside the main city of Edinburgh in Leith.

      The Royal Britannia is very easy to find, and you can reach it either by car or by bus. We had a car, so we chose to follow the Brown and White tourist signs to the attraction. The entrance to the Britannia is actually part of a shopping complex, but if you follow the signs for the blue car park, and park at level 5, this will bring you out at the floor of the entrance to Britannia. The car parking is free - a real bonus!!

      The tickets to Britannia are on the pricey side, with an adult ticket costing £10.50, with reductions for senior citizens, families and children. Students and military also have reduced fares of £9.00. If however, you have tesco clubcard vouchers, you can use their website, to exchange £5 worth of tesco vouchers to £20 of Britannia tickets, like we did, making it only a £1 for us to enter this attraction - excellent value, and really worth considering if you shop at Tesco supermarket and receive their tokens.

      Britannia is open all year round, with the exception of Christmas and New Year's Day, although opening times change depending on the season, and it is worth checking ahead to see these, depending on your time of travel. It is also advisable, especially if you are visiting in the peak summer season to be there when it opens, as it gets very busy very very quickly. We arrived very early, and we were so glad, because when we were leaving the ship was crammed.

      Once you go through the ticket desk, you can walk aroundvery interesting information boards, which tell you some of the history of the Royal Yacht, as well as photographs, some signed, of the Royal family and their various visits on the Royal Britannia. I have to say I stood and read each of the boards fully as it was very interesting - much more so than I had anticipated.

      You will then come to another desk, where when you show your ticket, you will be able to pick up a hand held audio guide which is available in a huge amount of languages. These are very easy to work, and every aspect of the ship is labelled with the number you put into your audio guide which will then tell you the history or more information about the area of the ship you are standing in.

      The whole attraction is superbly laid out. You follow the guided route the entire way round, and for every deck of the ship, you come back inside to either walk down the next flight of stairs or take the lift. It is very well catered for people with disabilities, and for those who find climbing steps more difficult.

      You will see numerous things on the boat, including the officer's areas, the Queen and the Duke's private bedrooms and studies, as well as their drawing room, dining room, kitchens etc etc. Those who are interested in royalty will be in their element, however that's not to say that you need to know much or be a fan of the Royal Family to enjoy the attraction.

      After a short time exploring you can stop off at the Royal Tea Room on the boat itself, which looks out across the sea. This is a lovely place to stop off, and the waiter service is excellent, as was the tea and scones we were served. It is a must on the trip - especially is you want to feel like royalty.

      All in all, whether you like royalty or not, this is still a magnificient attraction to visit in Edinburgh, and ideal for all the family. You will certainly not be bored along the way, and the information that you receive through the audio if useful, very interesting and very easy to listen to, with facts and anecdotes about events aboard the yacht. Excellent attraction!

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        06.12.2008 22:42
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        Well worth a visit

        At the moment Dave has a contract in Edinburgh and I have come up to stay with him for a fortnight to keep him company and to get a break from the daily routine.

        For those of you wondering about Mew he has gone to the local cattery where he has under paw, sorry under floor, heating, so he'll be OK! I will be doing a review shortly!

        Anyway today we decided to go and see the Royal Yacht Britannia which is currently moored in the waters of the Firth of Forth at Leith in Edinburgh.

        When we were last in Edinburgh we drove out to see Britannia but didn't have time to actually go on board. She was moored next to a small building and car park and that was what we expected to find when we got there today.

        Instead we found the yacht had been moved to the other side of the harbour next to a shopping mall called Ocean Terminal, which I shall be reviewing at a later date.

        We went by car and parked in the large multi storey car park next to the mall and the parking here was free. It is also possible to get to the Britannia by bus from Edinburgh City Centre using Lothian bus number 1, 11, 22, 34 or 35.

        The entrance to the Britannia is on the top floor of the Ocean Terminal so up we went. The entrance to the tour and the shop stand side by side and the shop is accessible directly from the mall without doing the tour.

        The cost of the tour is £9.75 for adults, £7.75 for senior citizens, students with ID and members of the armed forces, £5.75 for children aged between 5 and 17 and it is free for the under fives and members of the Association of Royal Yachtsmen. A family ticket for 2 adults and up to 3 children costs £27.75. We also signed the Gift Aid form enabling them to get the tax back on the money we paid and for this we were given the chance to apply for an annual pass at no extra cost.

        The tour is available from 9.30am until 4pm during July and August with slightly later opening and earlier closing times during the rest of the year.

        The tour started with us walking through a room where there were pictures of the yacht, the Royal Family and lots of information about both.

        We were then given handsets and instructions on how to use them to get commentary as we walked round the yacht. These were available in 20 different major world languages plus English, English for children, Basic English and English for the Visually Impaired! I won't list all the other languages here but they are all listed on the website which can be found at www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk . This site also gives lots of information about the yacht, how to get there, what to expect, prices, history and much more.

        Using the handsets the tour is self led so that you can take as much or as little time as you like at each stage. There are various discs dotted round the tour numbered from 1 to 27 and each time you get to one of these you just have to enter the number shown into your handset and press play. You then hear the information relevant to that part of the yacht. Obviously you can choose not to listen to all of these if you want to but we found them all so interesting we listened to every one.

        We started the tour by walking across a gangway onto the top deck to see the Bridge. Apart from the workings of the bridge itself I was interested to see the special deck at the front of the yacht where the Royal Family would stand when she came into port so that they could wave to the crowds and be seen by the people waiting.

        Then we headed back across the gangway into the visitor centre to walk down a flight of stairs and then walk back along the lower gangway to see the next deck. Incidentally there was a lift as well as stairs.

        This deck included the bedrooms of The Queen, Prince Philip and guest bedrooms. We also walked through their personal sun lounge opening onto a private deck at the stern of the yacht. Apparently this had to be cleaned by 8am so that the Royal Family did not have to encounter any of the ship's staff whilst they were relaxing. If a seaman did happen to meet one of the Royals they had to stand still and look straight ahead until the Royal had passed!

        While we are on this subject all orders on the Britannia were given in sign language to keep the noise to a minimum and thus help the Royal Family in their quest for a bit of relaxation!

        The same manoeuvre regarding the stairs brought us down to the next level where we found the Queen's Office and Prince Philip's study. Then it was through to the State Ante Room and Drawing Room. These were both lovely big rooms and the Queen originally wanted a real fire in the Drawing Room until she found out that a seaman would have to be present at all times when it was lit for safety reasons! She went for an electric fire instead!

        The State Dining Room was on the next level down and it took my breath away. All the tables were laid as though for a function and it looked stunning! You can actually hire it for functions but I dread to think how much it would cost! LOL! Had we moved from the Ante Room to the Dining Room without leaving the yacht we would have walked down a beautiful sweeping staircase, but although we could see this, it was roped off from visitors!

        Over these last two decks there were the Officers Quarters with their Dining Room, where they all dined each evening in full uniform, the Officers Mess and their sleeping quarters but I can't remember which ones were on which deck!

        We did go to visit on the right weekend though. Not only was the yacht decorated ready for Christmas there was free mulled wine and shortbread served in the Mess Room and it was lovely!

        Just down the corridor from the Mess Room was the little Naafi Shop selling fudge made on board together with other sweets and drinks. There were about 8 different flavours of fudge and the two that Dave and I had were gorgeous! It was welcome to be honest as we had started the tour at about 11.30 and by this time we were feeling rather hungry!

        The bottom deck housed the laundry, sick bay and the quarters of the able seamen (the lowest ranking on the ship) and these were cramped to say the least!

        The last part of the tour was to go back outside on the dockside to see the Royal Barge which was moored in an inlet there and then back on board to see the engine room, which apart from being updated to take diesel instead of solid fuel hadn't changed from 1953 when the yacht was first used until its final journey in 1997.

        The whole tour took about an hour and a half and it was really interesting. I was surprised that the Royal bedrooms and offices were not as opulent as I expected. I know the Queen requested special sheets for the bed and certain other things like that but the rooms themselves are quite spartanly furnished.

        When the tour was finished we came back into the building, took the lift back up to the top and exited into the gift shop where we returned our handsets.

        The shop had all the usual stuff teddy bears, pens, tea towels, postcards, food, drink, etc. and also replicas of the china and glass used on the yacht.

        All in all I would certainly recommend this tour to anyone. It was fascinating to actually be on the Royal Yacht Britannia - if you had told me 15 years ago I would be drinking mulled wine in the Mess on board this magnificent vessel I would have been prepared to bet anything you like that you were wrong - but there I was!

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          03.12.2006 21:18
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          If only the Royal Yacht Britannia was moored somewhere more appropriate.

          Once again this is a review written following the benefit of a second – rather different visit to this particular Scottish tourist attraction. I first visited the Royal Yacht Britannia on my own in 1999, the first year that it was open to the public having been “forcibly” retired to Leith Docks in Edinburgh.

          I am not going to go too deeply into the politics behind the decision to put the Britannia on display in the Scottish capital, save to say that it seemed an odd one when the rest of the historic ships are either based in Portsmouth or Chatham. With absolutely no disrespect to Edinburgh at all, it was always my opinion that the Britannia should have retired in her home port – Portsmouth, where all the required facilities are on hand to look after her in a ready made historical naval setting. Indeed if she was to go to Scotland, it would have made more sense to put her back - either in, or close to, her birthplace – John Brown’s ship yard at Clydebank.

          In view of the many famous and historic ships built and launched from that proud but unassuming industrial, shipbuilding town, the Britannia, a well known, if compact, representative of that once great ship building company, would have made a suitable tribute. Apart from the Queen Mary (in Long Beach - California) and QE2, the last great liner built here, all the others have now gone.

          Yes, the more I think about the Britannia’s current location, the more puzzled by it I am. On my second visit, in a sense, this had become worse, much worse!

          Telling you what it was like here in 1999 is hardly relevant today. However, at the end of the last century the Britannia sat in the dock at 90 degrees to its current position – a large open car park formed its backdrop, only a purpose built visitor centre containing a large tank for the Royal Barge was built on the site. The whole of the rest of the area looked pretty derelict.

          In 2006, things are different, very different!

          THE ROYAL YACHT – DEBENHAMS?

          On this occasion I was not driving and therefore did not have to find my way to the Royal Yacht, just as well, because without the aid of road signs I would never have found it – even having visited the dock some seven years previously. Since that visit, the dock area of Leith has changed out of all recognition.

          You should not actually get lost approaching the site by road, there are the familiar brown tourist signs to guide you – you will wonder if you have arrived at the right place when you get there though. There are direct bus services from the centre of Edinburgh which will get you to the Ocean Terminal without having to battle the traffic nightmare of Edinburgh city centre.

          Thanks to our most generous and gracious hosts, my wife and I (to borrow a royal phrase!) were chauffeured to a fairly large, very modern, shopping centre. Now, either we were about to become the victims of the ultimate consumer site joke here, or, somewhere beyond this architecturally challenged concrete and glass shopping centre, was to be found the ex Royal Yacht.

          Mr P., being a canny local, chose to park in the free outdoor car park, right next to the shopping centre’s car park. From here we walked around the dock waterfront, not until level with the shopping centre did we get our first glance of the Britannia, dwarfed by the rather ugly back wall of Debenhams department store. We were facing the stern of the ship, no good photographic opportunity here, far too much clutter in the way.

          To gain access to the ship, you have no option but to go through the Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre and up to the second floor in the lift – or if you are claustrophobic take the stairs. Now this may come as a shock to some, but there are many men who are simply allergic to shopping centres. I would not go as far as to describe Mr P. and I thus, but neither of us, given the choice, would have “gone shopping” with our partners in order to reach the Royal Yacht!

          What passes for a visitor centre here now is a double shop unit in the upper gallery of the shopping centre. Before entering, we were all in search of a loo, which naturally the shopping centre provided – there were also plenty on board the ship as it turned out.

          Regrettably, no, you don’t get to use – or even see the Royal “Throne” however.

          On the way back from the toilets I was seeking a suitable photographic location – there is a huge glass wall top to bottom of the Ocean Terminal at the far end where the large restaurant area is. From the balcony upstairs it was still impossible to get a clean shot down the side of the Britannia. From my point of view, both as a visitor and a photographer, its presentation here is a real disappointment. Every other historic ship that I have visited has afforded the opportunity to actually see the outside of it. Further adding to the disappointment is the fact that the shopping centre is far too tall and close to the ship for comfort. There is currently, doubtless it will be re-developed, a lot of open dock space here and yet Britannia is squashed in alongside, and dwarfed by, this large and frankly rather ugly modern building.

          Fortunately, as you walk into the Britannia Visitor Centre, they have on display an excellent model of the ship – take a good look at it, it is the best view you are going to have of the outside of this very handsome ship.

          To your left is where the Britannia tour begins, to the right the excellent gift shop, which you do not need to visit the ship in order to look around.

          We arrived for our “tour” at around midday on an October Friday, ok, if you insist, yes it was Friday the thirteenth!

          HOW MUCH IS THIS DAY OUT GOING TO SET YOU BACK?

          Assuming that you have managed to avoid the temptations of the shopping centre and are single minded in ONLY visiting the Royal Yacht, the prices are as follows:

          ADULTS: £9.00

          60 YEARS +: £7.00 (Plus members of the armed forces)

          STUDENTS & CHILDREN: £5.00

          UNDER 5’s: FREE (Plus members of the association of Royal Yachtsmen)

          WHEN CAN WE GO?

          Do not turn up here on Christmas day or New Years Day as you will find it closed, every other day of the year it is open – times vary according to season, I would advise checking on www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk before setting out.

          The site does suggest that in August, their busiest period, you call 0131 555 5566 in order to pre-book your tickets. My advice, as with any really popular visitor attraction, is to avoid visiting it in high season like the plague.

          HOW WAS IT FOR US?

          Thanks to our weekday, off season arrival at the Britannia, I have to say that it was a very comfortable visit indeed. There was no queue at the admissions desk, and whilst there were other visitors, it became busier after lunch-time, we saw what we wanted to, at our own leisure without any of the pushing and shoving that characterised our visit to Windsor Castle.

          Our visit was also blessed with superb, for October, weather, on a cold wet day, a visit to the Britannia would not be such an attractive proposition.

          THE HISTORY LESSON

          The first section of the visitor centre is laid out as a museum. There is a lot of information to take in here, about the ship, details of its building, service years and of course the Royal Family and their many guests on board during those years.

          Britannia was the last in a very long line of Royal Yachts, she was the eighty-third, the first being the Mary, presented to King Charles II by the people of Amsterdam. Ironically, Britannia was actually the first of the line to be launched by a ruling monarch. Our present Queen launched the ship on 16th April, 1953 as a replacement for the previous Royal Yacht, Victoria and Albert III, which was built in the previous century for Queen Victoria.

          At this point, it may be a good idea for me to declare my interest in marine engineering, rather than as any great monarchist. Mind you, the blend of these two interests are indeed what promises for most, an interesting experience here at the Britannia.

          The RN part of the ships title denotes that this indeed was a Royal Navy ship. The Y is for Yacht, as opposed to their more normal S for ship! Indeed it was the Admiralty who commissioned John Browns shipyard to design and build this ship, the confirming order being placed on 5th February 1952, the day before King George VI, the Queen’s father, died.

          The government of the day had thought that a new Royal Yacht would be a great boost for the ailing, but highly popular king. Regrettably they did not appreciate just how ill he was. Amongst many other pressing duties of the early 1950’s this left the young Queen Elizabeth with a substantial job on her hands. In a sense, she had “hit lucky” – all of the many Royal residences had been passed down through the family and were ready made, décor, furnishings and all. She had surprisingly little say in the places in which she lived. On the drawing board at John Brown’s however was a brand new Royal Yacht, something of a blank canvas in terms of design and more importantly fittings.

          The Duke of Edinburgh (ah at last a Scottish / Edinburgh connection with this ship!) was a naval man. He had commanded Royal Navy warships and was very much au-fait with modern maritime design. The Queen’s priorities were naturally slightly different. She desired a private “home away from home”, a bolt-hole where she could escape the attention of the world’s media, even if only for a short period. It also gave her the opportunity to have one royal residence that she could design to her own taste.

          If you think about it, whilst indeed the Royal Family do live the life of “the other half” in some senses, more than in the case of the rest of us, they do pretty much have to take what they are given. Huge palaces and castles are mighty difficult, not to mention prohibitively expensive, to totally re-design in one’s own style, even if the powerful heritage lobbies, would approve.

          The Queen commissioned Sir Hugh Casson to design the Royal Appartments on board; his primary objective was to create a comfortable county house afloat. The Queen wanted the décor to be kept light and in comparison to the Royal Residences on land, far less richly decorated. According to Sir Hugh, she took a well informed interest in all matters to do with the design and specification, even down to the smallest door handles.

          Maybe a modern analogy here would be to compare the young royal couple to big lottery winners who are able to design their own house – or even yacht from scratch.

          Well, not quite. These were the early 1950’s – a very austere time in English history, the country was still struggling to pay off huge war debts, some items were still rationed.

          A flashy new Royal Yacht was not going to be acceptable in all circles; in order to diplomatically side step this issue, the Britannia was nominally designed as a dual purpose ship. It was said that, at 24 hours notice, it could be converted into a hospital ship. The one and only time that this was required – the Falklands War in the South Atlantic, it turned out that Britannia ran on a “special” diesel fuel oil not readily available…….

          ……odd that don’t you think, seeing as by that time she had sailed all of the world’s oceans without any apparent “fuelling difficulties”.

          In 1992, the Britannia was officially absolved of any hospital duties, her majesty’s Royal Navy had apparently found more suitable alternatives.

          A RIGHT ROYAL YACHT!

          Whilst fitted out principally by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh for their own use, the Britannia was used extensively by other members of the Royal family, rarely seeming to be berthed in harbour for any length of time. Yes, of course she was used for ceremonial duties throughout the Commonwealth during her forty-four years of service. She was also used for a lot of royal holidaying, including four honeymoons, starting with Princess Margaret and ending with Prince Andrew’s. It is a sobering fact that the ship outlasted all of those marriages.

          DO YOU NEED ONE IN POLISH?

          After viewing the museum, it is time to collect your audio guide. Judging by the thousands of these sitting on charge, it can get very busy indeed on this ship. We were very impressed to see the range of languages catered for – being married to a Polish lady, I probably take more note than most of this – but yes she was offered a Polish audio guide!

          WELCOME ABOARD

          In case you had not already realised, the Britannia is afloat in Leith Docks. In order to go aboard you have to cross an airport style corridor which leads you directly to the highest – Bridge - Deck.

          Before I go any further, I should mention here that this is one visitor attraction fully accessible for less able bodied members of the community as each deck on the ship is entered from a corridor off of the land based staircase and lift shaft. You walk no staircase actually on board.

          Back to the bridge, and we are looking at state of the art 1950’s ships controls with the chart room behind. In charge up here was the Captain, not just any Captain, the Royal Yacht was the only ship in the Navy commanded at all times by an Admiral.

          On either side of the bridge are the open “wings” – in most ports of the world offering spectacular views…….if only that were the case here at Leith today.

          On the deck immediately below, offering a comparable view, is what became known as, the Royal Bridge. It was a favourite vantage point from which the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh could greet the crowds as they entered or left port.

          Behind the bridge is the larger Flag Deck, RMY Britannia carried around 2,000 flags. Most prominently flown, when the Queen was on board, were the Royal Standard – from the main mast, the flag of the Lord High Admiral (the Queen) and on the mizzen (third) mast the Union flag. One interesting fact that I learned from this visit was that the main mast and radio aerial had to be ‘scandalised’. No, not a reference to the gutter press, but a naval term for hinging a mast – in this case the top twenty feet – in order that the ship could pass under bridges.

          In the accommodation area underneath the Bridge and Flag Deck are situated the Admiral’s Suite and Officer’s cabins. The Admiral’s Suite comprises a day cabin – a living room, come office, come dining room, a small sleeping cabin and a bathroom. Of the officers and crew, only the Admiral had his own bathroom – the rest had to share facilities.

          THE REVIEW TAKES A DIFFERENT TURN!

          Having in October, 2006 viewed the Britannia thus far, i.e. the upper decks, I had pretty much made my mind up how this review was going to take shape. What I had seen so far had been nothing but disappointing. After so many “idle” years here in Leith, the Royal Yacht had undoubtedly deteriorated since my last visit. Small areas of rotting woodwork on the deck, a lifeboat davit with clear signs of rusting and sprung plating, my conclusion would be that ‘oh yes things were going down hill, as happens to all old ships left afloat and open to the environment’……

          ……I had reckoned without RMY Britannia working her old magic on me!

          As we went deeper and deeper into the ship, I realised that, royal state rooms apart, I was seeing very much more of this ship than on my previous visit. Then it was rather like visiting a stately home, you saw the plush area where the Queen and her family lived the high life, a quick look through the glass panel into the exquisite engine room and that, as they say, was your lot! Not now.

          HIS ‘N HERS EVERYTHING!

          You still start with the royal apartments, which I thought were a real eye opener on the relationship between the newlywed Queen and Duke. I remember to this day, the surprise of seeing “his and hers” bedrooms, with their tiny single beds and separate en-suite bathrooms. Well, actually you do not see the bathrooms, but this is the ONLY place where you can actually get to view a bedroom previously belonging to the Queen.

          Compared to many royal palaces and stately homes visited, the décor of these private apartments on board Britannia is surprisingly modest. Comfortable, in a rather dated 1950’s fashion, certainly rather more “middle class” in appearance than one may have imagined. Certain areas of life are however “how the other half live”, I don’t know about you, but I do not have a thermometer in my bath to ensure that my maid draws water of precisely the right temperature each time!

          Opposite these two bedrooms is a maids room and the only suite on the ship containing a double bed, the aptly named “Honeymoon Suite” To the rear (aft) of the bedrooms is to be found the Queen’s favourite area on the ship, the rear facing Sun Lounge, which opens out onto a large open Verandah Deck. This is the largest deck area on the ship and was reinforced in order to land a helicopter, an operation never to take place.

          Whilst on matters transport, a Royal car was also carried in a garage on deck. This (an aging Rolls Royce Phantom – ironically the property of Bentley Motors!) is now on display, a glass wall having been inserted where the garage opened. Logistically this was some feat as the garage matches the length of the car – it was inserted there by use of a special cradle, so tight a fit was it on the cradle that the cars’ bumpers had to be removed prior to loading! In later years, rather than taking her own car with her, countries visited were expected to provide suitable transport, the garage was turned into a royal beer store.

          KEEPING YOUR COOL MAAM?

          Incidentally, if you have ever wondered how the Queen kept her cool in those tropical foreign climes, the Royal Yacht Britannia is fully air conditioned!

          Moving down a deck, we are in the most palatial area of the ship, the public state rooms. We enter them rather as a servant would have done, via the expansive kitchen and servery areas into the State Dining Room. Just about anyone who’s anyone in world affairs has been wined and dined here, if these walls could talk what stories they would have to tell.

          For those with sufficiently deep pockets, or corporate hospitality accounts, this room is now for hire. Thanks largely to that, the layout is not as the Queen would have recognised it. However the décor is still the same, with one wall being lined with alcoves, mounted in which are various collected treasures, ether given to, or collected by members of the royal family. This, the largest state room on the ship, also doubled as a cinema and on Sundays, a place of worship. On 2nd August, 1971, Princess Anne celebrated her 21st birthday here – the only time that the ballroom floor beneath the carpet was ever revealed and used!

          Adjacent to the Dining Room are to be found – on opposite sides of the ship, the Queen and Duke’s sitting rooms. These are rather more offices, than places of rest and relaxation, both are similarly fitted out – hers in lighter fabrics and wall panelling. If they wished to communicate, they did so by internal telephone, an identical system to that installed in Buckingham Palace. Their private secretaries had offices below, again connected by telephone.

          To the aft of the sitting rooms are located the State Drawing Room and Anteroom, which open out into one large area. In the smaller anteroom, the royal family gathered for pre-dinner drinks. In the Drawing Room is a baby grand piano, the ivories of which have been tickled by such luminaries as Princess Diana, Princess Margaret, and Princess Alexandra. More usually it would be a member of the Royal Marines playing discreet background music. On one occasion Sir Noel Coward, guest of Princess Margaret whilst cruising in the Caribbean, entertained at the piano.

          SLUMMING IT BELOW DECKS

          The next deck down introduces you to a different world, that being of service to the royal family – or to the ship itself. The ship is very different in character below decks – the areas that on my first visit were not open to the public. At the stern are to be found modest, but comfortable royal staff accommodation and offices.

          The strict hierarchy of command is reflected in the quality and spaciousness of the below decks accommodation. The officers Anteroom and Wardroom are comfortably, if rather “prettily” upholstered. The Wardroom was a formal dining area where officers sat dressed in best. As we descend through the ranks, the dining and drinking areas, known as a “Messes”, become increasingly clubby and then pubby. Apparently it was not unknown for members of the royal family to pay informal visits to the Warrant Officer’s and Chief Petty Officer’s Mess.

          The short straw, in terms of accommodation, was drawn by the Royal Marines, most visible of all the Royal Yacht’s naval personnel. Renowned musicians, and impeccable drill performers, they impressed dignitaries all over the world. However their accommodation inside the Royal yacht – termed “Barracks” were extremely cramped. Due to their role on board, both as entertainers and as divers, regularly sweeping the hull, they had large quantities of equipment to store.

          Other fascinating areas of the ship on display today are the tiny general shop, the “NAAFI”, where, as we did, you can purchase home made (on the Britannia!) fudge, the hole in the wall mail office and the impressive sick bay and operating theatre. Incidentally, although this was nominally a “Hospital Ship”, the Queen always carried her own Physician on board, leaving the ships doctor to look after the welfare of the officers and crew.

          KEEPING IT ALL SPOTLESS

          Before making your descent, to the engine room, the laundry is the last area that you view. Whilst being one of the smallest ships in the Royal Navy, Britannia had by far the largest laundry, the only Navy ship indeed to have a permanently staffed laundry at that. There were two reasons that it was designed in this way, firstly as a hospital ship far greater cleaning capacity would be required, secondarily the 240 officers and crew went through up to SIX uniform changes a day when the royal family were on board.

          Naturally the Royal Smalls were kept strictly segregated from the officers and crews uniforms!

          GENERAL SCHWARZKOPF’S “MUSEUM PIECE”

          Finally and from a marine engineer’s point of view, most interestingly, we come to the very bowels of the ship – the engine, generator and boiler rooms, with which the American General was so impressed.

          Here there was a doormat, not to wipe your feet on the way out, but on which to wipe your feet before entering! Appearing almost exactly as it did upon leaving John Brown’s yard in 1953, this area is probably the most immaculate today on the whole ship. You admire the chrome plated and brass tubes through a glass wall. Almost unbelievably, this power plant has steamed this famous ship well over a million miles, to be precise, 1,087,623 nautical miles. Due to the dedication of the engineers who ran and maintained this area, not only are the engine and boiler rooms spotlessly clean, but the whole ship was mechanically extremely reliable.

          THE ROYAL BARGE

          No, you are not being pushed off her Majesty’s ship Britannia. I am of course referring to the Royal Barge moored alongside the ship in an incongruous little tank. Like the ship, this too was air conditioned. The barge dates from 1964 and shared deck space with 10 boats and 18 life rafts – more safety craft than carried on any warship.

          A FEW BALD STATISTICS:

          Designed by Sir Victor Shepheard – Director of Naval Construction.

          Launched by HM Queen Elizabeth II 16th April, 1953.

          Length 412ft (125.7 metres)

          Gross tonnage 5,862 tons

          Shaft Horsepower 12,000

          Maximum Speed 22.5 knots - 21 knots cruising speed

          Powered by two geared steam turbines, burning diesel fuel

          Range: 2,196 miles @ 20 knots. 2,553 miles @ 18 knots.

          AT LAST! IN CONCLUSION……

          ……of this quite unintentionally very long review!

          A visit to The Royal Yacht Britannia will make for a fascinating morning or afternoon, whatever your political or royal persuasion. On so many levels it is a wonder and an education. Despite my initial reservations about its situation and current condition, I and, I believe, the rest of our party, thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the ship and will undoubtedly remember it for many years to come.

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            28.05.2005 16:38
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            The Royal Yacht Britannia is possible one of the most elegant and well known ships that has sailed the Ocean. She was launched in 1953 and served the Queen and her Family for 44 years before being decommissioned at the end of 1997. The Royal Yacht Britannia is 83rd in a long line of royal yachts and was planned during the reign of King George VI but upon his death the design of her was overseen by the new Queen.

            When the yacht was decommissioned a number of UK cities bid to secure the ship but it was Edinburgh that was ultimately successful and the Yacht can now be found in the historic port of Leith.

            ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

            GETTING THERE

            First of all you need to get to Edinburgh (obvious really). Edinburgh enjoys the usual links to the rest of the country and even abroad and is accessible by road, train, air and by sea. Once you get in to Edinburgh itself follow road signs to Leith and North Edinburgh and I would keep an eye out for those handy little brown signs that alert you to the fact that something interesting lies ahead.

            The website (www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk) informs me that if you are car less or would prefer to travel by public transport you may get to the Ocean Terminal by bus, with a number of bus operators running regular excursions to the site of the yacht

            If you arrived in Edinburgh by Train you may already know that ScotRail offer an all inclusive ticket that entitles you to your train journey, a Majestic Tour Bus trip and admission to the Yacht.

            Once you arrive at your correct destination you will need to alight from your chosen vehicle and make your way to the second floor of the ocean terminal. Here you will find the expected ticket office. The ocean terminal itself is not really that awe inspiring, there are not loads of other things to do there although a few shops are beginning to spring up. You can see building work going on around the area too and in the words of a property developer that must mean that the area is 'up and coming'. In a few years I would expect to find some little boutiques and small bistro café's all round the area to match the expensive penthouse flats and town houses that are being built. For now however you just see cranes.

            WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

            Well, when you approach the desk the person will ask you for some money, in total you will be expected to pay £9 for an adult entry and £5 for a child (5-17 years). If you come in a conveniently sized family group of 2 adults and 2 children you will be able to make a slight saving on entry cost and pay a group price of £25

            AND THEN?

            Well now the tour actually begins. You are left to meander your way through a small visitor centre which houses exhibits from the ship and photographs which I found the most interesting things. I found I didn't really want to look at the Naval side of the background to the yacht although if you are interested in the Armed Forces you will probably enjoy those bits more than I.

            At the end of the visitor centre bit you will find a man waiting to take your tickets and he will hand you your audio guide. I am sceptical about audio guides but this one was actually very good. It was easy to hold and carry around and the sound was clear enough to be heard. The tour is available in a number of languages and you can even get a childrens version although this is only available in English. Printed scripts may be available for the hard of hearing.

            When you've got your audio guide you make you way over the bridge and enter 'The Bridge' The benefit of having your own audio guide is that you can take things at your own pace and can linger longer in areas you find more interesting. Truth be told, I didn't find the bridge that interesting and after listening to the audio guide I made my way out to the next bit. The whole tour can take anything up to 3 hours so I won't go into loads of detail however I will pick out some of my Favourite bits.

            THE ROYAL CAR

            The royal car was lifted onto Britannia and was used in countries where official cars were hard to find. In more recent time apparently the car store was used by the younger royals to store beer on trips.

            THE SUN LOUNGE

            The sun lounge is what I had imagined a yacht to be like. Fitted out throughout in teak it had a lovely feel of warmth and airiness. You could just imagine lounging around in there as the yacht was cutting through the waves around the Caribbean. There is a large teak deck outside the sun lounge where royals used to play quoits or other yacht appropriate games. All work (such as scrubbing the decks) had to be carried out in silence by the staff and if a member of the family came you way you had to stand stock still until they had passed.

            THE ROYAL APARTMENTS

            Here we learn that the Queen and Prince Phillip had separate rooms whilst on board. Rooms connected by an adjoining door. We also learn that the Queen likes sheets with a deep fold back while Prince Phillip didn't. The rooms themselves are quite small but nice and airy. The port holes are set quite high and I now know that this is so that the staff couldn't look into the royal bedrooms and watch the monarch while she slept (personally I think the glass wall would be a bit inconvenient but maybe that's not original!).

            THE STATE DINING ROOM

            This is a huge room. The furniture however is not original as Prince Phillip has had the original furniture removed to Frogmore House in the grounds at Windsor. The table is presented as laid for dinner with all cutlery and glassware sparkling. There are some interesting bits and bobs around the walls also, including a variety of swords and artefacts from royal visits.

            In terms of Royal Accommodation you also get to see the drawing room which houses a baby grand piano and a couple of Persian Rugs, and the Queen and Prince Phillips Offices, both very different in style. The other bits of the yacht you get to see are the working areas, the messes and sleeping quarters of the staff on board. I got a bit confused here as I don't really understand the different groups and ranks etc. It was all interesting though. Other points of interest include the…

            OPERATING THEATRE

            This did actually smell like a hospital still. I think they might pipe a Dettol type smell through the rooms. The operating theatre also was used as a dental practice as well. The ship was due to be used as a hospital ship in times of war so this area is quite well equipped by 1950's standards.

            THE ENGINE ROOM

            The engine room is totally spotless and shiny. It is very hard to imagine this as a working ship although it is reported that even when in use the engine room received regular cleaning and polishing.

            THE ROYAL BARGE

            This is not in the yacht itself but is situated to the side of the yacht. You are able to walk all the way around the barge and get a good look inside as well.

            OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

            I really enjoyed my visit to the Royal Yacht Britannia; it took us around 2 1/2 hours to get round the whole thing with regular stops to have a more detailed look at a few parts. The tour is not really a sociable thing to do however as you walk around on your own with the audio guide for company. Talking to your fellow visitors is difficult unless you know that you are both finished with the audio guide.

            The audio signs are excellent however and you always know what buttons to press to get the appropriate guide. You can repeat bits that you haven't heard if necessary also. The voice is typically 'BBC' with no accent and the person is quite posh, posher than me anyway. What I did find slightly annoying was that you had to keep coming off the ship at every level and going into the adjoining tower to go downstairs. This did make the yacht accessible to all however as there are lifts available also. In fact whilst we were there a lady in a wheelchair was visitng,

            The experience is really worth the entry fee, and some bits really stick in my mind, little things like the personal photographs of the Royals as normal people (with a massive yacht at their disposal!). One in particular shows the Queen cutting the ribbon marking Britannia's One Millionth mile, with Prince Phillip standing next to her in a Hawaiian shirt looking real casual, something I hadn't really expected. In total this attraction is well worth the time, money and effort spent visiting. Allow a few hours to see the bits you want to see and be aware that there is quite a lot of walking necessary to see all the yacht.

            In total 4 out of 5 stars from me.

            :o)

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              22.08.2003 17:51
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              I remember seeing the news reports of the Queen with a tear in her eye when she was forced to say goodbye to the Royal Yacht Britannia. Now, having looked around it, I can see why. It would be like being cruising in a five star hotel! It is a floating palace! We visited Edinburgh for New Year and made sure we made time to visit the yacht that served the Royal Family for 40 years (I love being nosey and looking around these kind of things!) If you are in the area I would certainly recommend a visit to it so you can see how the other half live if nothing else! WHERE IS IT? The yacht is now a popular tourist attraction and is situated in Ocean Terminal. It is really bizarre to get to because the entrance is in a shopping centre so you practically walk through Debenhams to reach it! The Vistor Centre is located on the second floor of Ocean Terminal, which is a stylish waterfront shopping development, and it is from here that you buy tickets, guide books etc and access the yacht. We reached the yacht by bus from the centre of Edinburgh as we did not have a car, but it would be just as easy to drive there. Buses are very regular and depart from Waverley Bridge which is very easy to find. Bus stops are even marked Britannia so it is difficult to get muddled up! Several tour companies also appeared to offer transport to the yacht but it seemed to be as part of a wider tour. It is actually only half an hour?s drive from Edinburgh Airport so it could be your first stop! HOW MUCH DID IT COST? Admission prices were as follows: Adult - £7.75 Senior Citizen - £5.95 Child/ student - £3.75 Family ticket £20 I thought it was a reasonable charge as we got to see a lot and were free to walk around in our own time. However, there was a warning that in bad weather certain parts of the tour might be closed off due to health and safety reasons. If you went on such a day, then you might feel a little cheated by
              paying the admission fee and missing out on sections. I did notice that it has wheelchair access which is good. Steps lead to the different levels of the yacht (steps which are not actually part of the yacht but have walkways to it) but there are lifts too. OPENING HOURS We visited over the New Year period and the attraction was closed on New Year?s Day, but this is expected really as most things are! It only actually closed on December 25 and January 1. It was open 10am-3.30pm and closed one-and-a-half hours after the last admission which is enough time to look around. In the summer months it opens half an hour earlier and closes an hour later. I noticed that you can actually hold corporate events on the yacht in the State Apartments which would be absolutely fantastic! ABOUT THE YACHT Britannia was the floating holiday home for the Royal Family for over 40 years and travelled over one million miles. It is one of the most famous ships in the world and played a major part in 968 Royal visits- wow! Photographs of it as the venue for glittering state visits, official receptions and royal honeymoons were common. But it has been based in Scotland since being decommissioned in 1997 and is still as majestic and elegant as when it was in use. Britannia was the last in a line of Royal yachts stretching back to 1660 and was actually lauched by the Queen and Prince Phillip in 1953. The architect is quoted as saying that the pair took a close interest in everything from the door handles to the lampshades. It just shows how much was spent on it because at the time £78,000 was spent on decorating the Royal apartments, £18,000 more than was budgeted for. ABOUT THE TOUR You make your way around the yacht via a self-led audio tour which is extremely comprehensive and it really does give you value for your money. You are given the handsets at the start of the tour and a recorded guide tells you all abo
              ut the part of the yacht you are at. You simply start and stop the tape in the right places. It is extremely easy to use and is available in a range of languages. The tour takes you around five decks and is well signed so you can easily find your way around. WHAT DO YOU SEE? Particular points to mention are artefacts from the Royal Collection which are on loan from the Queen, the State Dining and Drawing Rooms, the Engine Room and the bedrooms. When you think of Royalty you really do expect elaborate decoration and furnishings but the interior of the yacht is quite simple, although it still oozes hefty price tags and class! The Royal Apartments are lovely and include the Drawing Room which is extremely glamorous with its huge Persian rugs, electric fire and chintz furniture. The Queen had originally wanted a coal fire but it would have meant a sailor having to stand by it when lit with a fire bucket! It is fun to notice that things like the grand piano are bolted to the floor- it is the only reminder that you are actually on a yacht! The dining room is so elegant and it would take three hours to set the table for a state banquet! Imagine- you wouldn?t want anyone to touch it once you had finished! Exotic gifts picked up by the Royal Family during their travels line the walls and each has a description. You can actually spend quite a while in this room looking around. The Queen?s Sitting Room is relatively simple and was used as an office so it contains a sofa, desk etc. but probably the most striking feature is the gold mirror on the wall which is shaped like a ship?s wheel. The Duke?s Sitting Room is definitely that of a man! It?s walls are teak-panelled and there is a model of HMS Magpie- his first naval command. The two Sitting Rooms are linked by telephone! I loved seeing the royal bedrooms and was amazed that the Queen and Prince Phillip have separate rooms, each with a single bed. The only
              double bed on the yacht is the honeymoon suite! Bizarre! You feel quite honoured when you are told that the public opening of the bedrooms is a first as people have never before been given the chance to see a bedroom of a living monarch. The Sun Lounge is lovely has large windows looking out onto the deck. Going further behind the scenes, you get to see the wheelhouse and engine room which you would think has never been used- it is sparkling and really does receive gasps of awe. I found it quite quirky that there was also a garage on board where you could see the Royal cars- they really had thought of everything! Other interesting sections are the Admiral?s Suite, officers? cabin and the dormitories for the yachtsmen. Their bunks are stacked up in rows of three and extremely cramped. A different world from the living conditions upstairs. It is strange to think that such living conditions were still in operation only a few years ago. There are lovely photographs on the walls of different Royal trips and it is great to stand on the spot where Charles and Diana famously waved goodbye as they set off on honeymoon! SHOP At the end of the tour is the usual tourist shop and, although I don?t usually tend to look around these places, I did see a few things that would make quite nice souvenirs, although I didn?t stop to look at the prices! GUIDE BOOK I did buy a guide book at the start of the tour and it is a lovely souvenir. You don?t really need it while looking around but it is great to read afterwards and contains a lot of the information you heard during the audio tour. It is an A4 guide and contains lots of photographs of the yacht while it was in use, a detailed plan of the decks and details of its history. An interesting section of the book is a timeline charting a day in the life of the Queen while on Britannia. It starts at 7.30am when she is woken up by her personal maid and served with
              a cup of tea with milk by her personal maid before going to have a bath which has been prepared for her- even down to the temperature being checked with a thermometer. What a life! Britannia certainly leaves you with that thought. The Royal Family really do live in a different world. If this is their idea of a usual holiday, I would love to see them put in a caravan in Wales for a week to see the kind of holidays the rest of the country has experienced :o) How jealous am I ?!

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                08.04.2003 23:26
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                HMY Britannia (Y for Yacht, as opposed to Ship) was, until decommissioned in 1997, the floating home of the Queen and her family. Built in 1953 in Clydebank, Scotland, she travelled over a million miles and still holds the magic sparkle you would expect anything with the prefix 'Royal' to have. Now converted into a museum 'experience', ensuring her awesome history does not go forgotten, she instantly makes it into a tourist's list of things to do in Edinburgh, especially with the backing of being an official five-star tourist attraction, and having won various Best Attraction Awards as well. Britannia is permanently moored now at the Port of Leith, ten minutes drive north from the centre of Edinburgh. The first part of the tour is actually a kind of museum called the Visitor Centre, situated on the top floor of the new Ocean Terminal shopping centre. This contains artefacts saved from the long life of Britannia, and lots of information too. It is all spick and span, brand new, and so easy to navigate and user-friendly. Out of this section of the tour my personal favourite was the display with uniforms and instruments from the Royal Marines band, who played regularly on the Yacht, due to me being a bit of a musician myself. Then, before you go onto the actual ship itself, you are issued with a handset. This is a sort of enlarged mobile-phone type device, with a number-pad. As you go around the ship, you will see little signs telling you to press a number on your handset. Then, a recorded voice will give you a little speech programmed into its memory, corresponding to the place you're in. This replaces a tour guide, and does a sterling job. This is due to a variety of reasons; for example, it allows you to go at your own pace - as fast or slow as you like. If you miss something, you can play the speech again, and you can always hear the voice perfectly. If there is anything you want to find out that is not mentioned on your h
                ands et (which is not likely, as it is very comprehensive), then you'll be able to ask one of the many staff around. There is also a separate children's headset available, which uses easier vocabulary and touches on things that children will find interesting, leaving out details that they won't. As one of our party is wheelchair-bound, and I was wondering how they would have managed to modify a constricted, compact environment that as no room for elevators into a wheel/push-chair friendly space, as required by law. Their solution is ingenious. It is based around you doing a circuit of each deck, and once you've finished, you go back into the Ocean Terminal building via a kind of bridge, similar to those you go through to get from an airport terminal building into a plane. This perhaps reinforces the 'Ocean Terminal' name. Once inside the building, you go down a flight of stairs or an elevator, before going back into the ship in another similar bridge. The entire layout was flawless, unambiguous and manageable for anybody. The ship, or rather yacht, itself was presented immaculately. The first thing that you encounter is the captain's cabins, which look decidedly crampt until you see the living quarters of the actual crew, later on in the tour. All the rooms are presented as if someone is living in them; books on bedside tables, cornflakes in the galley, sweets in the children's (or rather Prince's) rooms. It may seem small things, but it all these details add to your overall experience, and it shows that the staff looking after the Britannia really care. I was really fascinated (or maybe captivated) by the Engine Room. This mass of brass pipes and huge pistons, spotlessly clean, a marvel of engineering, provided power for over one million miles of travel around some of the most exotic and exclusive parts of the world. Once you have been around the entire boat, you can look at the barge, which is a
                small (40f t) motor boat that was used as transportation between the moored Yacht and the shore. This was the highlight of my trip; I've never seen anything cooler. Perfectly matching the navy blue and gold paintwork of the 'mother ship', it was like your own mini royal yacht, if your imagination could hold it. Once you are through the tour itself, you come to the inevitable gift shop, that was thankfully tasteful in the souvenirs it offers. If you go in for that sort of thing, it is great, and there is also a traditional-style sweet shop on the actual boat itself, where an actual shop used to exist for the crew members. As the museum occupies the top floor of a new shopping centre, there are plenty of other shops, restaurants and cafes to suit any taste or requirement. In general, I would say that the Royal Yacht Britannia is a superb attraction, though, like any, would be less enjoyable with large crowds in the height of the tourist season. It is a fascinating experience, and, due to the separate children's headset, suitable for everyone. It is the perfect length to occupy either an afternoon or a morning of sight-seeing, and the added Royal 'endorsement' provides an extra edge over other potential expeditions. The reasonable ticket price makes good value for money too. Essential Information Opening Times Winter - October to March 10.00am - 3.30pm (close 5pm) daily Summer - April to September 9.30am - 4.30pm (close 6pm) daily (Closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Christmas/New Year's Eve - last admission 2.30pm, close 4pm) Admission Prices Adult £8 Senior Citizen (60+) £6 Child 5-17 £4 Family Ticket (2 adults + 3 children) £20 Pre-booking is not necessary, but is highly recommended around tourist seasons to avoid disappointment. Photography is not allowed inside Britannia herself, but photographs
                of the exterio r of the ship etc are allowed. To get there by car, from Edinburgh follow road signs to North Edinburgh/Leith, and then follow Britannia brown tourist signs. For complete information, visit the Official HMY Britannia website :- http://www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk/

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                  24.05.2001 01:44
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                  The Royal Yacht Britannia is probably on of the most famous ships in the world. For over forty years it served the Royal family and in that time travelled over one million miles. She travelled to every corner of the globe during her illustrious career playing host to 968 Royal and Official visits. Since she was built at John Browns shipyard in Clydebank Scotland in 1953 Britannia was a floating home from home for the Royals and was the perfect residence to host glittering state visits, official receptions, royal honeymoons as well as many family holidays. She was decommissioned in 1997 in Portsmouth in front of the Queen , The Duke of Edinburgh and fourteen other senior Royals. Then four months later she moved to her new home at Leith just outside Edinburgh were she is open to the public. Open daily Mon toFriday Jan Mar---10am to 3.30pm AprMay---9.30 to 4pm Aug Sept----9.30 to 4.30 Oct Dec----- 10am to 3.30 Weekends 9.30 to 4.30 Closed at Christmas and New Year Admission Prices Adult £7.75 Senior Citizen (60+) £5.95 Child 5-17 £3.75 Family Ticket 2+3 £20 No advance booking necessary except in August when booking is required. At last you can see what life was really like for the Royal Family. Peep into the Queens bedroom have a good nosy at the Dukes sitting room gaze in awe at the State Drawing Room before heading off to inspect the bridge. There are lots of other rooms to view not forgetting the engine room still looking as pristine as the day it was built. There is also a visitors centre where there are lots of photographs which show the history of this fascinating ship as well as newsreel footage.Here you also pick up an audio handset to take on your tour , this is of particular help to the hearing impaired as it has a volume control. The ship is fully accessible by wheelchairs and guide dogs for the blind are allowed.
                  After you have wandered in the footsteps of Kings and Queens you can relax in the cafe or buy some souvenirs in the well stocked shop. It is advisable to allow at least one and a half to two hours for your visit. This was voted best tourist attraction of 1999 and was Which? attraction of the year 2000. It is a great day out and if you are in Edinburgh it is well worth a visit, if not you can enjoy some of the sights on line at www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

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                  12.05.2001 05:51
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                  I want to make you aware of a new attraction in Edinburgh: The Royal Yacht Britannia. The Royal Yacht served the Royal Family from its launch in 1953 until 1997. She has become the most famous ship in the world. After more then 700 journeys all over the world she has now come to a final destination, where she is now open to the public. To get there by car, just follow the signs to Leith and Britannia (in the north of Edinburgh). There is also a bus service from the centre of Edinburgh (Waverley Bridge, next to the railway station). We have spent a few hours on board (last summer), and it's certainly worth the money. The Visitor Centre gives you a good overview of The Royal Yacht's history, you can see a lot of photos from famous state visits, receptions, honeymoons and royal holidays. There is also the reconstructed Wheelhouse (which used to be below the Bridge), and some original berths of sergeants and petty officers ('The Living Quarters') where you can see how they had to live on board. In the middle of the Visitor Centre, you can see the Royal Barge which was used by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to travel ashore on their visits to foreign countries. Then you leave the Visitor Centre and move on board the Britannia, not without getting hold of one of the audio guides which are available in many different languages. These audio guides are excellent. You listen to the detailed information wherever you are on board. You learn about where the Queen used to work, to sleep, to dine, to relax, etc. and also what happened on particular trips, and who had been to The Royal Yacht in over 40 years. You see the Verandah deck, the Sun Lounge, the large Dining Room and many more interesting details. I have to say that everything looks perfectly nice and as if it were brand new, so the maintenance must have been excellent. If you take a look into the Engine Room you
                  almost cannot believe that this ship was actually operating at all, it's very impressive indeed. After the end of the tour, you can buy some souvenirs in the shop or have coffee, tea, sandwiches or pastries in the Cafe. My conclusion: If you haven't been there already, make sure you do not miss The Royal Yacht Britannia when you visit Edinburgh the next time. Opening hours are normally 9:30 am to 4:30 pm every day throughout the year (during winter from 10:30 am). Admission prices are GBP 7.75 for one person, GBP 5.95 for Senior Citizens (60+), GBP 3.75 for children (5-17), and GBP 20.- for a Family Ticket. Any profits go to the Charitable Trust that is responsible for the Britannia's long-term maintenance. Of course, when you visit Edinburgh, please make sure you don't miss any of the following other main attractions: - Edinburgh Castle - Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre - Camera obscura (Outlook Tower) - Gladstone's Land - The Royal Mile - St Giles' Cathedral - Holyroodhouse Palace and Abbey - Royal Museum of Scotland - National Gallery of Scotland - The Scott Monument - Charlotte Square - Princes Street (shopping!) - Princes Street Gardens I have been to all of these places, and I can certainly recommend you to visit them all whenever you go to Edinburgh. Many thanks for reading. Take care, Michael

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