The recently restored last floating survivor of the 1916 Battle of Jutland, HMS Caroline, has been awarded a five-star visitor attraction rating, signifying that the attraction is operating to an ‘outstanding’ level, John McGrillen, Chief Executive Tourism Northern Ireland has announced.
The five-star accreditation was awarded under the Tourism Northern Ireland Visitor Attraction Experience Quality Grading scheme designed to provide visitors with quality grading information on Northern Ireland’s tourist attractions.
To achieve a star-rating, attractions are subject to unannounced Tourism Northern Ireland Quality Advisor checks from a mystery visitor and are assessed in up to six categories.
Congratulating the staff on their achievement, John McGrillen, Chief Executive Tourism Northern Ireland said: “HMS Caroline is an outstanding visitor attraction with historical significance, proudly providing visitors with the opportunity to take in the sights, sounds and smells and become fully immersed in life on-board the vessel.
“All aspects of the HMS Caroline visitor attraction and experience scored highly, from the website to the interactive exhibitions and displays to the friendliness of the staff and the quality of the café facilities. This is an attraction with something for everyone, the level of information available is superb, while the Tom Cat’s Trail will ensure even the younger visitors are engaged and occupied.”
HMS Caroline is now the second visitor attraction to receive a five-star rating in the Titanic Quarter, further enhancing the rich maritime history offering for visitors to Belfast. As the focus of the centenary commemorations of the Battle of Jutland, HMS Caroline opened its doors on 1 June 2016 and has since welcomed over 10,000 visitors.
The restoration of the vessel, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and supported by the Department for the Economy, was led by National Museum of the Royal Navy Chief of Staff Captain John Rees OBE who accepted the five-star rating certificate at a ceremony on board the ship this week.
“It is a great honour for HMS Caroline to receive the Tourism Northern Ireland five-star quality grading. HMS Caroline is a world class heritage asset and restoration work has brought the ship back to life as a museum commemorating the 10,000 Irishmen who participated in naval activities during World War 1,” says Captain Rees. “The HMS Caroline visitor experience is particularly enhanced by a marvellous team of on board staff and guides.”
Eilish McGuinness, Director of Operations at the Heritage Lottery Fund said: “We are incredibly proud of the success of HMS Caroline and the contribution made by National Lottery players to the ongoing regeneration of the Titanic Quarter. Belfast is a fantastic city to visit and HMS Caroline truly deserves this accolade.”