Royal Yacht Britannia

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The Royal Yacht Britannia did rule the waves for 60 years, the ship was launched on the 15th April 1953 at John Brown's Shipyard in Clydebank. For over forty four of those years the ship proudly served the Royal Family, sailing over one million miles to become the most famous ship in the world and playing a role in some defining moments of recent history. Britannia undertook 968 official visits which also included the handover of Hong Kong, In 1986 Britannia rescued over 1,000 refugees from war torn Aden in the Republic of Yemen. On a recent visit to Edinburgh we decided to visit what is now becoming one of Scotland's best visitor attractions and that boast is justified. It is a great experience and one not to be missed if visiting Edinburgh. The Royal Yacht is situated at the Ocean Terminal in the area of Leith, a short bus or car ride from the centre of Edinburgh; a number 22, 11 or 35 will drop you there. Ocean Terminal is a large shopping centre which is a good place to be on a rainy Scottish day as the terminal has over 70 shops, bars restaurants and a cinema. The Royal Yacht entranced is situated on the second floor of Ocean Terminal, just follow the signs up the escalator. The entrance fee is 10 pounds for Seniors and 11.75 for Adults or a family ticket will cost 34.00 pounds. If you are a tax payer you are able to gift aid your entrance fee as a donation and as the Royal Yacht is now owned by a non-profit making charity all the revenue generated goes towards Britannia's long-term maintenance and preservation. Visitors collect an audio handset which is included in the admission price, so that you can do the tour at your own pace. There is a lift and disabled access on all five floors and ramps throughout. From stepping on board you can imagine yourself been greeted by the Queen and shown around her floating "palace". It is said that the Queen described Britannia as "the one place where I can truly relax", and she shed a tear when it was decommissioned on the 11th December 1997. The trip starts at the wheel house and takes you on a tour of the Dining Room, the Sun Lounge and the Queen's Bedroom. This all contrasts with the 'working' side of the ship including the Sick Bay and the amazing Engine Room. Prince Charles and Diana had their honeymoon on the Royal Yacht. I heard someone say it was rather small for a honeymoon suite….but, I am sure they where fine!! You can enjoy stunning harbour views from the Royal Deck Tea Room, this area would have been used for cocktail parties and receptions. We followed the footsteps of Frank Sinatra, President Reagan, Nelson Mandela and President Gorbachev to name but a few people who have been on board this impressive ship. The Queen also had on board over 220 crew who where not aloud to shout on the Ship, Orders were given by hand signal to preserve the tranquillity!! A different world, but it was good to have a look at how the Queen and her family relaxed and enjoyed cruising on this lovely vessel. Today you can enjoy your own piece of history by having a corporate event or a private occasion, unfortunately you can not get married or have a wedding reception on board, but if it is a birthday or a special event and you wish to impress your family and friends this is definitely the place to be. But if you fancy a "gathering" for an action packed occasion, moored at the side of the Royal Yacht Britannia is the Racing Yacht the Bloodhound, which for a price can be hired for the day where you can either sit back relax whilst on board or help the crew to 'man the ropes" if you desire, I am all for the sitting back myself! The Bloodhound is the racing yacht that Prince Charles and Princess Anne learned to sail on. The Bloodhound is moored in Oban during the months of July and August and can be hired for day sailing around the Western Isles. Also at the side of the Royal Yacht Britannia is the Royal Barge, the Barge was used to transport the Royal Party down the Thames on the Jubilee celebrations, and went with the Royal Party all over the world to "tender" the Queen to and from the Royal Yacht to the harbours she was visiting, or in the case of the visit to Brisbane to sail up the River past the waiting crowds. What ever you chose to do in the Edinburgh area, do not miss the experience of visiting this truly five star tourist attraction, but be warned it can be very busy during the Summer months with up to 250,000 people visiting per year, give yourself time to enjoy the Royal Britannia Experience, plain sailing!!

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