Before you board the ship, pick up your boarding card, complete with a persona – all characters are based on real people and the boarding card idea is a fantastic way for adults and children to understand more about the human stories linked to the ship’s history.
Next stop: the SS Great Britain herself. Both above and below, she impresses. Her upper deck is virtually unchanged from when she sailed for New York in 1845, so walk the length and breadth, taking in the air, or, if you’ve a head for heights, climb the rigging and main yard arm thanks Go Aloft – the ship’s latest National Lottery addition.
Step below deck for a living museum of life on the waves: sounds, smells and props bringing it all to life. The cabins in steerage look like their occupants have nipped out momentarily, the galley, store and bakery still bustle with the business of feeding the voyagers, and the engine room pounds with the sounds of stokers shovelling coal and the full-scale engine turning. The whole experience is utterly brilliant.
Find it: Great Western Dockyard, Gas Ferry Road, Bristol, Bs1 6ty
Cost: Adults £16.50; Students and Seniors £14.50; 5-16 year olds £9.50; children 4 and under, free. Plus, tickets to Brunel’s SS Great Britain include free unlimited return visits for a year.