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It’s as if the powerful 1938 warship, upon being retired from service in 1965, was motored straight to this dock and opened to visitors the next day. Nearly everything, down to the checked flooring and decaying cables, is exactly as it was, making the boat a fascinating snapshot of mid-20th-century maritime technology, and smart exhibits do a lot to make it come alive again. Authenticity also makes it a devil to navigate, especially if you have any bags with you—sorry, no cloakrooms, sailor. Getting around its labyrinth of decks, engine rooms,ladders, and hatches requires dexterity and a well-calibrated inner compass—it seems the Health and Safety rules that bedevil every aspect of British life do not apply here. You can roam as you wish, visiting every cubby of the ship from kitchen to bridge, touching nearly anything you want, while being thankful that it wasn’t you who was chasing German cruisers (the Belfast sank the Scharnhorst) and backing up the D-Day invasion in this tough tin can. Admission includes an excellent audio guide, but privately, crew members tell me that they wish visitors would pause and ask them questions in person—there’s so much more to point out to you. The price is too high for those with a lukewarm interest, but the Tom’s Kitchen bar, atop the visitor center (a wine bar overlooking a warship— appropriate?), has stellar views of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge—and an afternoon champagne tea that’s just £15. Thanks, World War II!