Below is a Roots to the Past column I wrote three years ago. With the 100th anniversary on the threshold, I thought it would be interesting to share what my son and I thought about the second voyage of the Titanic organisers had planned.
A Titanic Voyage One Hundred Years Later
When we heard the news on the radio, my ten-year-old son and I stared at each other. Had we heard right? Was a voyage being planned to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic? Yes.
Almost everyone has heard of the RMS Titanic—the ship, not the movie. They may not recall when it sank—just after midnight April 15, 1912—but most know an iceberg had sealed its fate. The largest and the most luxurious ship built in its time, the Titanic had been dubbed unsinkable. Unfortunately, for the 1,518 men, women and children who perished that night in the North Atlantic, this claim was sadly mistaken.
The Titanic was built over a two-year period at the Harland and Wolff shipyard at Belfast, Ireland. It was owned by the White Star Line and was an Olympic-class passenger liner. Its maiden voyage would take if from Southampton, England to New York City, USA. Four hundred miles south of Newfoundland, this course changed.
The great loss of life can be contributed to two factors: the speed in which the ship sank and the inadequate number of lifeboats.
The Titanic Memorial Cruise website wants you to “reserve your place in history.” Onboard the MS Balmoral, a ship operated by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, whose parent company Harland and Wolff built the Titanic, passengers will be treated to the flavours of 1912. They will enjoy entertainment from the era and feast on items from the original ship’s menu. As the vessel follows the ill-fated path of the unsinkable liner, passengers will have many opportunities to delve into Titanic History with lectures and displays.
The anniversary voyage sets sail from Southampton on April 8, 2012 and will spend 12 days crossing the Atlantic. Ironically, the Balmoral is slower than the Titanic and will depart two days earlier to reach the point of sinking on time.
The Balmoral will stop over the Titanic grave and hold a memorial service at 2:20 am on April 15th. From there, the ship will visit Halifax, NS to tour the Titanic displays and visit the 121 Titanic graves at Fairview Lawn Cemetery. The voyage ends in New York City.
The question is: Who wants to follow a deadly trail? This question might sound a little dramatic, and though I’m only a little superstitious, I feel they are playing with fire. My son, who has been fascinated by the Titanic for more than five years, asked, “Are they going to sink the ship in the same spot?”
For history and Titanic buffs, this is a once in a life time voyage. Anyone with a connection to the original Titanic passengers may see it as a way to step into their ancestors’ shoes and experience life as they might have, regardless if they had been a survivor or a victim of the sinking.
Original newspaper stories by the British publications, The Sphere and The Daily Graphic, covering the tragic sinking can be viewed in the RMS Titanic Resource Guide, Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management website.