When Norfolk's brand-new Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center opens its doors on April 28, expect to pass through more than just your average cruise terminal. The facility will also be a maritime museum of sorts, showcasing one of the largest privately owned collections of ocean liner memorabilia in the country.
The Herbert Beazley Ocean Liner Collection is on loan from Norma Beazley, the widow of a Houston attorney. Her husband, Herbert Beazley, spent his life outside of work accumulating an enormous collection of cruise ship models, documents, classic drawings and deck plans, original boarding passes, passenger manifests and classic advertising art.
What was an attorney doing with ocean liner curios? We touched base with Norma Beazley to find out. "Herbert had no Navy ties; he served in Intelligence in the Air Force and collected only items pertaining to ocean liners," she tells us. "Herbert was just consumed with ocean liners, collecting material concerning them and sailing on them. He never met an ocean liner that he didn't want to sail on -- at least once! He loved the hunt for the memorabilia and then displaying it. Herbert would be so happy."
Treasures to look out for include:
Two original deck chairs from the R.M.S. Queen Mary.
Poster art for HMHS Britannic, which provided early trans-Atlantic crossings between Great Britain, the United States and Canada.
A menu from Germany's SS Bremen, which sparked the building of large (and expensive) express liners during the 1930's.
The Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center will be the only cruise terminal in the country to house such an exhibit. Though the exhibit at the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center is not permanent, the loan is "long term." Stephen Kirkland, Norfolk's manager of cruise operations and marketing, tells us that the terms are up to Mrs. Beazley, but that Norfolk expects to be the home for the collection for "at least the next five years of so" -- and that additional pieces from the Beazleys' collection could be phased in throughout the period.
Norma Beazley will be on hand to help launch the exhibit, and inaugural events for the center are timed to coincide with the start of Royal Caribbean's first-ever Bermuda season from Norfolk. Empress of the Seas will sail weeklong cruises calling at Hamilton and St. George's beginning April 28 -- Half Moone's opening day.
--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor
Images appear courtesy of Stephen Kirkland.