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Britannia Rules the Tourist Waves

November 01, 1998

The imposing British royal yacht Britannia, longer than a football field, has been commissioned for a new service: tourism. The 412-foot-long vessel, created by order of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, the first year of her reign, sailed around the world, bearing everyone from the queen to world leaders like Mahatma Gandhi.

Draining $16 million annually from taxpayers and facing a ruinously expensive retrofitting, the luxurious vessel--crewed by 250--was retired last year. On Oct. 19, it opened to the public at Leith port near Edinburgh. It is still undergoing renovation, but the royal apartments, the bridge, the state dining rooms and other areas are open 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Tickets, about $12 adults, $9 seniors and $7 children, must be bought in advance by calling 011-44-131-555-5566.

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