For Shore

Chart a course for the world’s best mar­itime mu­se­ums. BY RICHARD VARR

Porthole Cruise Magazine - - What's Inside - BY RICHARD VARR

Chart a course for the world’s best mar­itime mu­se­ums.

FROM THE VIK­INGS AND GREAT Euro­pean ex­plor­ers to 20th-cen­tury sail­ing ves­sels and war­ships, mar­itime mu­se­ums tell the sto­ries of col­o­niza­tion, trade, and war that have shaped the world as we know it to­day. De­tailed be­low are some of the best mu­se­ums worth a visit dur­ing your next stop in pop­u­lar ports of call.

From Briny Depths to Full Glory

See­ing Vasa up close takes your breath away. Sal­vaged from the cold, briny depths that pre­served it for 333 years, the wooden war­ship is the world’s only sal­vaged 17th-cen­tury ves­sel, now housed in Stock­holm’s cav­ernous Vasa Mu­seum. In 1628, the pride of the Swedish navy’s maiden voy­age sadly ended al­most as soon as it be­gan in Stock­holm’s har­bor, with the top-heavy gun­ship keel­ing over af­ter a mighty wind­blast puffed its sails. Vasa quickly sank as wa­ter en­tered through its lower gun ports. To­day, rope lad­ders again stretch up its masts, and im­pos­ing fig­urines of carved war­riors and gri­mac­ing lion heads re­veal — de­spite the doomed voy­age — the prow­ess of Swe­den’s navy.

Stock­holm’s Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum fea­tures nav­i­ga­tional in­stru­ments, fig­ure­heads, paint­ings, ar­ti­facts, and more than 1,500 model ships. A key ex­hibit is the orig­i­nal cabin and elab­o­rately carved tran­som of King Gus­tav III’s 1778 schooner Am­phion with its sun-crowned em­blem and four win­dows.

The Vik­ings

Upon see­ing the sin­gle-masted Sea Stal­lion with its im­pos­ing broad- striped sail, you might think you’ve stepped back to when Vik­ings tra­versed the north­ern seas. The long­boat, seat­ing 60 oars­men, is ac­tu­ally a mod­ern-day re­con­struc­tion of the Skulde

lev 2, a Vik­ing war­ship whose frag­mented yet re­mark­ably pre­served hull sits within the Vik­ing Ship Mu­seum in Roskilde, Den­mark, a sub­urb of Copen­hagen. The hull is one of five Vik­ing ship hulls on dis­play, all re­trieved from a shal­low fjord near Skuldelev in 1962 af­ter sit­ting in the murky bot­tom for a thou­sand years. The boats were pur­posely sunk with stones to block in­vaders. Other re­con­structed Vik­ing ves­sels in­clude a cargo ship and fish­ing boats, all whisk­ing pas­sen­gers on rides along the fjords.

In Norway, Oslo’s Vik­ing Ship Mu­seum houses three pre­served ves­sels dug out from 1,000-year-old burial mounds, where Vik­ing lead­ers or chief­tains were en­tombed within the ships.

The Great Ex­plor­ers

Por­tu­gal’s Belém water­front can be called a mu­seum within it­self. This Lis­bon neigh­bor­hood is where some of the great­est ex­plor­ers de­parted on their jour­neys to the New World. Carved in splen­did Manue­line- style ar­chi­tec­ture, Jerón­i­mos Monastery is the sa­cred site where seamen like Vasco da Gama prayed be­fore set­ting sail, and where Da Gama was even­tu­ally en­tombed. Two water­front tow­ers stand as tributes: the 170-foot-tall Mon­u­ment to the Dis­cov­er­ies, carved with like­nesses of in­flu­en­tial nav­i­ga­tors and ex­plor­ers, and the 500-year- old Belém Tower with its Moor­ish watch­tow­ers.

In the monastery’s western wing, Lis­bon’s Mar­itime Mu­seum (or Navy Mu­seum) show­cases paint­ings, mod­els of ships and galleons, and stat­ues of the great ex­plor­ers. Ex­hibits in­clude the wooden Ar­changel Raphael fig­urine that da Gama took with him on his voy­age to In­dia and an orig­i­nal, exquisitely dec­o­rated wood-pan­eled cabin from Queen Amélia’s royal yacht.

Paint­ings, model ships, and ar­ti­facts in Am­s­ter­dam’s Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum show­case Dutch jour­neys to the East and West Indies. Berthed out­side, the East In­dia­man Am­s­ter­dam, with its gold-trimmed stern win­dows, is an ex­act replica of the ship that sank in 1749 in the North Sea. In­side the mu­seum, the 56-foot Royal Barge is lav­ishly dec­o­rated with a golden statue of Nep­tune clutch­ing his three-pronged tri­dent .

Eng­land’s Legacy on the Seas

Liver­pool’ s Mersey side Mar­itime Mu­seum tells the story of the hor­rific sink­ing of RMS Lusi­ta­nia dur­ing World War I, as this Bri­tish port city was Lusi­ta­nia’s fi­nal des­ti­na­tion and home to many of its per­ished crew. Pas­sen­gers’ letters, ar­ti­facts, and an im­pres­sive ship model help tell the story of how a Ger­man sub­ma­rine tor­pe­doed the un­armed ship off the shores of Ire­land, leav­ing nearly 1,200 dead.

A long­time cen­ter of mar­itime ac­tiv­ity, Lon­don’s Green­wich bor­ough is home to Bri­tain’s Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum. Its colos­sal 2 mil­lion–piece col­lec­tion in­cludes manuscripts, maps, ship mod­els, fig­ure­heads, nav­i­ga­tional in­stru­ments and art­works. Paint­ings fea­ture a por­trait of Vice Ad­mi­ral Ho­ra­tio Nel­son, whose death at the Bat­tle of Trafal­gar is de­picted in J. M. W. Turner’s largest paint­ing. Bat­tle ar­ti­facts in­clude Nel­son’s Trafal­gar uni­form and a can­non­ball wedged into a piece of wood.

Nav­i­gat­ing the Pa­cific

The Mar­itime Mu­seum of San Diego high­lights the lo­cal navy base, but is per­haps best known for its dozen or so his­toric ves­sels. Most no­table is the 1860s Star of In­dia, the world’s old­est ac­tive sail­ing ship. HMS Sur­prise is a replica of the 24-gun, 18th cen­tury Bri­tish frigate. And the B-39 is a real-life Soviet- era diesel-and- elec­tric sub­ma­rine that sailed the oceans for more than 20 years.

The name of the New Zealand Mar­itime Mu­seum Hui Te Ananui A Tan­garoa in­cludes a Maori ti­tle, and Poly­ne­sian and Maori boats and nav­i­ga­tion com­prise one of the mu­seum’s key ex­hibits. Through model boats and more than 130 wa­ter­craft, the mu­seum show­cases early Euro­pean set­tle­ment and im­mi­gra­tion, whal­ing life, and mod­ern day trad­ing and ship­ping. Mar­itime en­thu­si­asts can even catch a ride on the fully re­stored her­itage scow Ted

Ashby for Auck­land har­bor voy­ages. In Syd­ney’s Aus­tralianNa­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum, the Nav­i­ga­tors ex­hibit fea­tures an ar­ti­fact from Bri­tish Cap­tain James Cook’s sloop

HMS Res­o­lu­tion, as well as dis­plays track­ing the voy­ages of sailors and set­tlers from Asia and Europe. For a glimpse of what life was like for Cook and his crew, walk aboard the replica of his

HMB En­deav­our berthed out­side, and marvel at the pul­leys and masts sup­port­ing 28 sails.

New Zealand Mar­itime Mu­seum

Clock­wise from left: Mar­itime Mu­seum of San Diego; Nep­tune steer­ing the Royal Barge at Am­s­ter­dam’s Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum; Nel­son’s Trafal­gar uni­form at Bri­tain’s Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum; Vasa Mu­seum in Stock­holm

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