No trip to Northern Ireland’s Belfast is complete without a visit to the famed Titanic museum. Built on the former site of the Harland & Wolff shipyard where the RMS Titanic was built between 1909 and 1911, the museum showcases artifacts and exhibits that tell the real story of the most famous shipwreck in history.
Most people get their Titanic information from the 1997 movie starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. But if you consider yourself a Titanic fan, Titanic Belfast will have all the historically accurate answers to your most burning questions.
Check out these 10 things you’ll learn about the Titanic in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.
10 The Conditions In Third Class Really Weren’t Great
If you’ve seen Titanic, you’ll know that there was a major difference between the first-class cabins, were Rose DeWitt Bukater and her family stayed, and the third-class accommodation, where Jack Dawson stayed. In real life, the conditions of third class really weren’t great. And unsurprisingly, the majority of people who lost their lives in the tragedy were third-class passengers.
There were up to 1000 passengers in third class, and between them, they had to share only two bathtubs. Still, conditions on the Titanic were superior to conditions on other cruise ships of the time, even in third class.
9 But First Class Was Super Extravagant
As you can imagine, first-class on the Titanic really was extremely extravagant. It’s not shown in the film, but people like the fictional Rose had access to a swimming pool, a Turkish bath, a court for playing squash, and a dog kennel. We do see briefly in the film that the first-class also had its own gym (this is the room where Jack tells Rose that she’s no picnic).
The grand staircase which is shown in the film extended across seven decks and was crafted with the finest oak paneling. No cost was spared when designing the first-class experience of the Titanic.
8 Several Prominent People Canceled Their Titanic Tickets At The Last Minute
One of the more fascinating aspects of the Titanic story is that several famous and wealthy people who were supposed to be passengers on the ship ended up canceling their tickets at the last minute. J.P. Morgan, for example, had organized his own private suite on the ship but decided to remain in France at the last minute.
Milton S. Hershey, the founder of the chocolate brand, also had a ticket but chose not to board the ship. Also among those who had tickets but either canceled at the last minute or decided not to travel on the Titanic was Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the telegraph, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, and American novelist Theodore Dreiser.
7 All 25 Engineers On The Ship Perished
We do get to see some of the engineers in the movie, and sadly, all 25 of the ship’s engineers perished when the Titanic sank. But before they died, they worked their hardest to make the horrific experience more bearable for the passengers.
The engineers kept the lights on and the pumps working until the ship finally submerged. According to Insider, they also managed to keep the radio running and send out distress signals right up until minutes before the Titanic went under. Today there is a Titanic Engineers Memorial in Southampton, England.
6 The Ship’s Binoculars Really Weren't Accessible
You might remember one scene from the film during which a crewmember asks if the binoculars have been found, just before the ship strikes the iceberg. This wasn’t an embellishment—the binoculars really weren’t available.
The lookouts who first spotted the iceberg, Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee, could not see very far because they did not have access to the binoculars, which were locked in a compartment. The key was with the ship’s second officer, who had been replaced. If the lookouts had binoculars, they probably would have spotted the iceberg sooner.
5 There Was Another Ship Nearby
After hitting the iceberg, the Titanic sent out distress flares into the dark night. Unfortunately, these made no difference as no ship came to help. But there was another ship nearby.
Crewmembers on the Californian did see the distress flares from the Titanic and woke up their captain to alert him. But the captain did not issue any orders to send help. The wireless operator on the Californian had also gone to bed and did not see the distress signals until the morning when thousands of people had already lost their lives.
4 They Later Recovered Some Bodies From The Ocean
A few days after the Titanic sank, a repair ship departed from Halifax, Nova Scotia, in order to search the ocean for bodies. The ship, called the CS Mackay-Bennett, brought with it tons of ice, 40 embalmers, and 100 coffins.
306 bodies were located by the ship, but 116 of them could not be returned to the shore and given a proper burial as they were too badly damaged. Other ships also joined in the operation to recover the bodies, and in total, 328 bodies from the Titanic were found.
3 There Could Be Edible Food That Remains At The Shipwreck
It’s been over 100 years since the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage. But according to one senior scientist, there could still be some edible food down there that might be able to be recovered. While most of the food is long gone, foods such as cheese, that are protected from spoiling, could still be salvageable if they were kept in boxes that also helped to prevent them from decaying.
There may also be wines within the shipwreck that are actually still drinkable after being preserved on the ocean floor. This is because the normal aging process slows down with the conditions of deep-sea storage.
2 One Survivor Went On To Star In A Film About The Titanic
There have been several films dedicated to portraying the Titanic disaster, the most famous of which came out in 1997. However, the first film to show the events was released only a month after the sinking in May of 1912. And one of the actors was actually a survivor of the real disaster.
Dorothy Gibson was an American silent film actress. When she acted in the film after surviving the real sinking, she wore the same clothes and shoes that she had been wearing on April 14, the night of the sinking.
1 A Book May Have Foretold The Tragedy
When news of the sinking of the Titanic first reached land back in 1912, the world was shocked. But maybe they shouldn’t have been, considering there was a book written years earlier that eerily predicted the tragedy. Known as The Wreck of the Titan, or Futility, the book told the story of an ocean liner that hits an iceberg and sinks. Sound familiar?
There are many odd similarities, like the fact that the Titan was also on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic, setting sail in April, carrying too few lifeboats, and was described as being “unsinkable”.