The Royal Yacht Britannia hit the seas in 1953 and took the British royal family around the world from then until 1997, when the vessel was decommissioned. Few yachts can boast such an illustrious career as the Royal Yacht Britannia, having sailed over 1 million miles and transported the British Royal Family on hundreds of official visits. Since retiring from service, the luxurious yacht has been permanently docked in Edinburgh's historic Leith port, beside the Ocean Terminal shopping center, and serves as a museum of royal life at sea and a venue for elite events held in its grand dining hall.
Exploring the regal yacht affords the opportunity to imagine the lives and travels of the royal family, and travelers who choose to step on board will join many iconic figures who have been welcomed below deck, including Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Rajiv Gandhi. The yacht’s five decks are all open to the public, including access to the lavish state drawing room and the sun lounge, reportedly the queen's favorite room.
Self-guided audio tours allow visitors to check out the inner workings of the engine room; learn about life on board for the officers and yachtsmen in the crew cabins; and even peek into the queen's bedroom and the admiral's cabin. Guests can also admire the Royal Family Picture Gallery and a collection of furnishings from Her Majesty’s royal collection state apartments before stopping for tea with a view at the Royal Deck Tea Room, overlooking the scenic waterfront.
The visitors center features the ornate binnacle, carved from a single piece of oak, that served as background for the royals' family photographs, but the real thrills start on board, where the state rooms can be toured (This is the only royal residence where visitors are allowed access to the queen's bedroom!).