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Steamship Shieldhall preparing for first weekend of sailings!

Southampton’s own heritage steamship, SS Shieldhall, is preparing for the 2018 sailing season. Shortly setting out for Falmouth for her biennial Dry Docking, Shieldhall will – if all goes to plan – return looking spick and span, ready for a busy programme that will take in some 24 sailings out of Southampton and Poole.

Currently listed as the No 1 ‘Thing to Do’ on TripAdvisor for Southampton, there has never been a better time to plan a cruise on Shieldhall. 2017 saw the completion of a £1.4 million HLF refit, including essential maintenance carried out to the hull, a refurbished Saloon and new interpretation. For 2018, Shieldhall will commence sailings over the late May Bank Holiday weekend. Highlights of the programme include sailings scheduled to witness the spectacle of the Round the Island Race and the Cowes Fireworks. Sailings will continue at intervals until mid-September, including two docks trips over the Heritage Open Days Weekend. This year marks 30 years since Shieldhall was taken into preservation by the charity that still operate her today, the Solent Steam Packet Limited. All crew on Shieldhall are unpaid volunteers, who look to keep the magic of steam at sea alive for future generations!

Shieldhall’s first sailing will be on Saturday 26th May, with a Southampton Docks Cruise between 4pm – 6pm. On Sunday 27th May, Shieldhall welcomes Titanic enthusiasts aboard for a 3hr cruise (3pm – 6pm), retracing Titanic’s trip down Southampton Water with references to the ‘New York Incident’ and the impact the White Star Liner had on Southampton. Guest author Ann Roberts will give a presentation on Titanic’s Captain E J Smith in the Shieldhall Saloon, and visitors are welcome to see Shieldhall’s steam driven steering gear, very similar in nature to that employed on the Titanic. On all cruises, Shieldhall will pass close to the mighty cruise ships berthed in the Docks, with the afternoon cruises seeing the departure of the cruise ships, always the opportunity to sound the Shieldhall whistle as she passes by!

Shieldhall is the largest operational, passenger-cargo steam ship in Britain. A member of the National Historic Fleet she serves as a sea going tribute to Britain's maritime heritage. Passengers can experience the golden age of steam by viewing the ship’s impressive engine room with its original steam engines at work and the bridge, with its traditional instruments and gleaming brasswork. It’s access all areas on Shieldhall, with passengers encouraged talk to the Captain and her volunteer crew and to walk the teak decks, whilst listening to a commentary on the history of Southampton Water and The Solent. Shieldhall is based in Southampton Docks, and full details of the 2018 cruise programme and berthing information can be found at www.ss-shieldhall.co.uk

Posted by Lewis Folland, Mon 19 Mar 2018

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