When I was small I remember visiting Southampton to meet my grandparents after their many cruise holidays. Their tales of adventure in far away countries had me reaching for the atlas and planning my journeys. In short, it inspired a lifetime of travel. I noticed Sea City as I walked through Southampton and couldn’t resist a visit.
Sea City is split into sections and depicts the maritime history of Southampton. One of the more prominent exhibits portrays the city’s connections to the Titanic. This is where the ill fated ship sailed from in April 1912 and three quarters of the crew came from Southampton. What I liked most about this exhibit was the focus on local people and the part they played in daily life on board. There were stokers, maids, stewards, and coal trimmers, all from the streets around the city. Many never returned and one of the most poignant displays in the museum is a floor covered with a map of Southampton and a mass of red dots. Each red dot represents someone who died when the Titanic sunk and there was barely a street untouched by the tragedy.
Today there are interactive displays where children can try their hand at shoveling coal into the furnaces to see the effort required to keep the ship going. or, they can attempt to steer a simulated Titanic down Southampton Water- not as easy as it looked.
The cruise ship display section was very interesting and featured many of the famous ships that had docked here. From the Queen Mary to the Oriana, they had taken people to and from their travels overseas. The Canberra struck a particular chord with me as my grandparents sailed on her many times. I recall them showing me the menus and itineraries- how excited I was just dreaming of all that travel. Those menus were in the museum today.
Sea City is a really interesting museum and one for anyone interested in nautical issues or travel it is packed full of innovative exhibits telling the story of how cruise ships have impacted the city.