The ABC trip to London... ABBA, Belfast and a cruise ship! COMPLETED 8/6 - Page 3 - PassPorter - A Community of Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel Forums
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Old 07-28-2018, 02:26 AM   #31
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Saturday 23 June – part three: clearing immigration on the other side of the Thames

HMS Belfast was built in the city of her name, with work started in 1936. She was launched in 1938 and was commissioned just before the outbreak of the Second World War. She was initially part of the British naval blockade against Germany, but in November 1939, she struck a mine and then spent two years undergoing repairs. She returned to action with improved radar equipment and firepower and was then busy escorting Arctic convoys to the Soviet Union.

In December 1943, she played a key role in the Battle of North Cape, helping in the destruction of the German warship Scharnhorst. Only 36 men survived out of nearly 2,000 on board. There’s a section where you get to see and feel what the bombardment she unleashed was like and my goodness, it certainly shakes you!

The following year, HMS Belfast helped to support the Normandy landings and, just as the Second World War was concluding, she headed out to the Far East. She saw further action in the Korean War in the early 1950s, before undergoing an extensive modernisation in the late 1950s. A lot of what we saw today dated from that time.

She retired from service in 1963 and four years later, she was destined for scrap, but thank goodness, efforts were made to save her from that fate and preserve her as a museum. In 1971, she was transferred to London and there was a fascinating photo of her arriving in the city…



She now receives more than a quarter of a million visitors each year and, based on what we saw today, I can see why. She is certainly unique and there is so much to see here.

We got our tickets checked as we boarded and got our audio guide. Now often I find these irritating, especially as you have them around your neck and I also have my camera there too. However, these were all fascinating and had snippets from various former sailors, describing their experiences on board. You really learnt so much from them, although I couldn’t help but wonder, particularly with the ones from the Second World War, just how many of them are still with us today.

We ended up chatting to a member of staff just after we boarded, who explained about this…



Normally I wouldn’t have thought twice about this sight, as these are some of the regular boat services that run along the Thames, but not today. The cruise ship that was moored up next to us was using them to take their passengers across to the other side of the Thames. Why? Because that’s where the immigration clearance was set up.

Part of HMS Belfast had been cordoned off with sheeting, as that’s where the passengers would walk off the ship. You’ll see more of that later. I couldn’t help but wonder how much the Port of London were charging for this privilege, as that’s a lot of infrastructure they’re putting in place for one ship. Mind you, I bet it’s an amazing thing to cruise up the Thames and under Tower Bridge. We were still talking to the staff member and talk turned to that and he said that they had a list of when the bridge would go up every day. He went to check it for us and it was due to go up at 1:30pm to let a paddle steamer through. Ok, that would be neat to see…

We started our tour around HMS Belfast, first stopping to see various things on the deck we entered on…





My first priority was a restroom stop and my goodness, I was pleasantly surprised at how modern the facilities were here. I was so not expecting that!

I also wasn’t expecting to see this, especially given how health and safety conscious we are as a country.



These steps apparently lead down to the ship’s wardroom, where the officers used to dine and spend their leisure time. By tradition, the ship’s captain had to be invited to enter the wardroom and lower ranks were not allowed to enter.

Next: children would be going “what’s that?”
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Old 07-28-2018, 05:28 AM   #32
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It’s nice they were able to save such an important part of history.
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Old 07-28-2018, 07:16 AM   #33
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Very interesting history of the HMS Belfast! The input from former sailors is a nice touch.
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Old 07-28-2018, 08:14 AM   #34
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Love that history! Making notes.... That old photo is fantastic!
Yes what a treat for the cruise ship passengers, wow!
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Old 07-28-2018, 08:25 AM   #35
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I'm glad they could save such an important part of history. London is a beautiful city. I enjoy seeing all your pictures,
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Old 07-28-2018, 09:45 AM   #36
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The ABC trip to London... ABBA, Belfast and a cruise ship! UPDATED 7/28

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Originally Posted by chezp View Post
Now I will say what we saw in London was very different to the ABBA museum.

I saw a cool video of a band playing Dancing Queen during the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham palace yesterday!

Very interesting tour of the HMS Belfast!


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Old 07-28-2018, 10:56 AM   #37
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Very nice experience they've set up there. We went to the Churchill War rooms last summer, and the most moving exhibits to me were the voice recordings of secretaries who'd worked in there. More than anything else, these really had an emotional impact.
Was there a certain direction to go in to follow the audio guide? In museums this has a logical flow, but I wondered how it would work on a ship.
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Old 07-28-2018, 11:07 AM   #38
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Amazing history and background on the HMS Belfast. Quite interesting about the Port of London as well. Funny about the restrictions with the wardroom. Looking forward to seeing more of the ship.
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Old 07-28-2018, 11:46 AM   #39
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I saw a cool video of a band playing Dancing Queen during the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham palace yesterday!
Oh cool... I didn't know they'd done that. I knew about Three Lions (our World Cup song).
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Old 07-28-2018, 11:48 AM   #40
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Very nice experience they've set up there. We went to the Churchill War rooms last summer, and the most moving exhibits to me were the voice recordings of secretaries who'd worked in there. More than anything else, these really had an emotional impact.
Oh wow, I bet!

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Was there a certain direction to go in to follow the audio guide? In museums this has a logical flow, but I wondered how it would work on a ship.
Yes, there was. It was a bit tricky to start with to work out which way to go and we did miss something right at the beginning that was quite important, but we were able to go back to it. Once we picked up the trail, it was pretty easy.
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Old 07-28-2018, 12:21 PM   #41
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Getting back to the Times Square comment I made and that it's been a relatively safe area to visit over the last twenty years. Before that it was pretty much unsafe and unwelcoming to visit there. More like a Red Light District in what was there as well as a lot of illegal drug activity.


Just shows how you can improve a city. It was former NYC Mayor Rudy Giullani and various police commissioners under him that got this going as well as improving other areas and aspects of NYC back in the 90's.
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Old 07-28-2018, 02:47 PM   #42
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Getting back to the Times Square comment I made and that it's been a relatively safe area to visit over the last twenty years. Before that it was pretty much unsafe and unwelcoming to visit there. More like a Red Light District in what was there as well as a lot of illegal drug activity.
Ah yes, that would be a whole side to the city I've thankfully not seen.

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Just shows how you can improve a city. It was former NYC Mayor Rudy Giullani and various police commissioners under him that got this going as well as improving other areas and aspects of NYC back in the 90's.
He did an amazing job. The figures spoke for themselves, backed up by our personal experience.
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Old 07-28-2018, 09:01 PM   #43
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Nice start to your tour, and I love that old photo of the HMS Belfast arriving in London and passing under the bridge.
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Old 07-28-2018, 10:04 PM   #44
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Nice start to your tour, and I love that old photo of the HMS Belfast arriving in London and passing under the bridge.

That is an amazing photo and just love it!
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Old 07-29-2018, 02:53 AM   #45
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Nice start to your tour, and I love that old photo of the HMS Belfast arriving in London and passing under the bridge.
That was such a neat photo.
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