How to visit the world’s most magnificent historic vessels

For many of us, the sea inspires romantic thoughts – of standing on windswept decks listening to the creak of rope and the snap of billowing sails, of heroic action in battle, harsh conditions and sea shanties. Much of the world we live in today was shaped by our relationship with the sea, and with those who served on the vessels that sailed it. Though the majority have sadly been lost, some of these historic ships have been preserved for future generations, often converted to mus­eums and offering a deeper insight into life on board. Visiting them makes a ­fascinating addition to any holiday, whether you’ve got children to entertain, or a restless history buff craving a day off the beach.

HMS Victory


HMS Victory – which today marks the centenary of its dry-docking – remains the oldest commissioned warship in the world. A tour of this beautiful first-rate ship of the line will introduce stories of the men who served and life on board. She has an illustrious history and a long list of battle honours, the most famous of these being the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, where she served as Horatio Nelson’s flagship in the defeat of the combined French and Spanish fleets. 

Visit: HMS Victory ( is open daily from 10am-5pm with tickets from £24/£19 adults/children. Somerset House Hotel (02392 008222; has doubles from £59.

Mary Rose


Raised from the seabed in 1982, the Mary Rose is the only ship of her kind in the world. Often mistakenly referred to as the ship that sank on her maiden voyage, the Mary Rose actually had a long history before she mysteriously capsized at the Battle of the Solent in 1545. The museum is full of incredible finds salvaged from the seabed, giving a fascinating insight into life in the Tudor navy. Kids will particularly enjoy meeting the ship’s dog, Hatch.

Visit: The Mary Rose ( is open daily from 10am-5pm. You can easily combine a visit with your trip to HMS Victory with a range of ticket options available. Rooms at Stattons Boutique Hotel (02392 009333; has doubles from £65.

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