Seven years and £7m later, Titanic's little sister SS Nomadic is ready for visitors
The boat that ferried people to the ill-fated Titanic in Cherbourg will welcome passengers onboard again after a £7m, seven-year refurbishment.
The SS Nomadic – the last remaining vessel of the White Star Line – opens its doors to the public for the first time this week and is expected to attract more than 44,000 visitors over the next year.
Built by Harland and Wolff shipyard workers in 1911 at the same time and using the same Thomas Andrews designs as its mighty big sister, the Nomadic is Belfast's latest offering to the lucrative Titanic tourist trail.
The refurbished ship, which was bought at auction in France in 2006 for €250,000, still retains many of its original features.
Denis Rooney, chairman of the Nomadic Charitable Trust campaign, said: "Visitors can walk in the footsteps of the passengers who boarded Titanic. They can touch the same materials, enjoy exactly the same experience.
"The only other way you can get this close to the Titanic experience is to go on a submersive expedition and see the wreck. This is the real deal."
The Nomadic is now a permanent fixture at Hamilton Dock – beside Belfast's new £90m Titanic museum.
Interactive displays detailing the history of the White Star Line and Nomadic's journey have been installed. Ring for service at the bar and up pops Pierre the virtual first-class bar steward.
Mr Rooney said: "We have overcome a lot of cynicism about the ship. You can feel the excitement mounting day by day."