Titanic Memorial Cruise 10th Anniversary

Titanic Memorial Cruise 2012 Remembered

The RMS Titanic is a ship that will be forever remembered for its sinking on April 14/15, 1912.

One hundred and ten years have passed since the tragedy when more than 1500 lives were lost.

Ten years ago in 2012, I had the privilege of being one of 235 Australians who visited the site as part of the Titanic Memorial Cruise for the 100th anniversary.

Travelling with me were my now late husband Don Watts and good friends Debbie and Damian Foale.

The journey was unlike anything we had ever experienced. It’s hard to explain the emotions we all felt throughout, especially during the memorial service in the early hours of April 15, 2012.

Imagining the horror of pushing through crowds toward the lifeboats on that cold and dark night, and then actually seeing wreaths float out into the sea with Amazing Grace playing in the background, were hauntingly beautiful experiences.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the Titanic Memorial Cruise in April 2022, I’ve republished my original blog here (with some minor edits) and created photo galleries to share with you.

Disclosure:
As a Booking.com and Amazon Australia Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through links in this post.

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Damian and Debbie Foale (left) join me and Don for a dress rehearsal 0f the formal night on the Titanic Memorial Cruise in April 2012.

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Australians onboard the  MV Balmoral for the Titanic Memorial Cruise.

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Titanic Memorial Cruise dress rehearsal

Oceania > Australia > Queensland > Maryborough
April 4, 2012

In just over 12 hours, Don and I will be jetting our way to England and the Titanic Memorial Cruise along with good friends Debbie and Damian Foale.

On Sunday, we’ll board the Balmoral, one of the Fred Olsen Cruise Line and sail to Cobh, Ireland, where we will spend a day exploring the area.

Then we set sail again to trace the path of the ill-fated Titanic, except that we won’t hit an iceberg and sink (we hope)!

Instead, exactly 100 years to the day, we will honour those who died with a memorial service over the site.

From there it’s on to Halifax, Canada, to visit the graves of those whose bodies were retrieved from the freezing water, and then to New York.

We’ll spend a couple of days in New York before winging our way back home to Australia.

I’m really looking forward to sharing my photos and stories from our journey onboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise with you.

 

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Waiting to step onto the Balmoral, the ship of the Titanic Memorial Cruise.

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Touchdown

Europe > United Kingdom > England > Greater London > Heathrow Airport
April 8, 2012

This is the first chance I’ve had to log in since leaving Maryborough en route to the Titanic Memorial Cruise, so I’m playing catch-up.

“Flight attendants, take your seats now! Passengers, secure your seatbelts.”
The flight captain’s urgent instructions soon scattered the attendants and were followed with the mass clicking of seat belts, a few moments of turbulence, and then… silence.

That minor drama as we flew through a thunderstorm out of Singapore was the only hiccup during our 30+ hours of travel from Maryborough to Southhampton, England.

Mind you, the tight security, including police walking around the Abu Dhabi Airport carrying semi-automatic weapons, was there for a reason considering their neighbours’ history. Although a tad daunting, it did make us feel secure.

The Arabian flight service, Etihad, on which we travelled from Brisbane, was also run with military precision, and excellent service.

We figured that being more economical than other airlines would equate to less service, but the contrary was true.

I’d certainly recommend Etihad Airlines – their service was top-notch, particularly the food, which was the best I’ve experienced on any airline anywhere.

For example, The brekkie menu just before landing at Heathrow Airport included fresh fruit, yoghurt, warm bakery and preserve; Mixed pepper frittata with lamb sausage, paprika potatoes and grilled tomato; Soujuk omelette with harissa potatoes, foul and humus tahina; or French toast with caramelised banana slices.

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Jocelyn and Don pose for a photo at Abu Dhabi Airport.

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Southampton

Europe > United Kingdom > England > Greater London
April 8, 2012

After close to 30 hours in the air (in three stints from Brisbane to Singapore, to Aubi Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to London, the 1.5 hours to Southampton by taxi was a welcome change.

Initially, we were going to take a train but the taxi worked out cheaper (for four people) and the driver delivered us directly to the door of The Southampton Holiday Inn, close to where we’ll board the Titanic Memorial Cruise ship, Balmoral, on Easter Sunday.

The English people seem friendly – the taxi driver was very helpful and the staff at the holiday inn equally so.

Normal check-in time is after lunch, but we were allowed in at 10 am, and over lunch, we were given a run-down local football team rivalry.

And the Inn’s beds are definitely comfortable; an afternoon “nap” turned into a 12-hour deep sleep.

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Jocelyn in Southampton, England.

Sightseeing

Today we discovered some fascinating historical sites that bear the scars of two world wars and boast famous residents and visitors including the Pilgrim Fathers, William the Conqueror, Jane Austen, King Henry VIII and even Shakespeare who it is claimed visited the Dolphin Hotel and performed in the courtyard.

Just across the road from our Inn are medieval walls and vaults. These are not replicas or movie sets; they are the real deal.

A short walk away is St Michael’s Church, the oldest building still in use in the city. The original Norman church was built in 1070.

Facing the church is Tudor House and Garden, which encompasses over 800 years of history on one site.

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Aussies wave as the Balmoral cruise ship leaves Southampton, as the Titanic did 100 years before.

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Go Ireland!

Europe > Ireland > County Cork > Cobh
April 10, 2012

A pint of Guinness at Kelly’s Bar in the Irish town of Cobh – life doesn’t get much better than this!

Docking at Cobh at 4 pm today felt like we’d somehow been catapulted to celebrity status, which is in stark contrast to yesterday when little more than a handful of people, including media crews, farewelled the Titanic Memorial Cruise from Southampton.

An estimated 30,000 people and a brass band had waited more than six hours at the shipping terminal and terraced streets behind to greet the Titanic Memorial Cruise.

The disappointment of having the first of our shore tours – Blarney Castle & Cork City – cancelled due to late arrivals at Southampton and strong headwinds en route to Ireland was soon forgotten as we disembarked and met the people of Cobh.

What an amazing turn-out! The disaster’s 100th anniversary is a big deal here – the Titanic Memorial Cruise is just one event planned in a year-long program to commemorate the event.

Interestingly, guest speaker Michael Martin noted in his talk Cobh – Titanic’s Final Port of Call earlier in the day, that not one “Irish” person had died in the disaster. It happened before Independence therefore all those from Ireland were classed as British citizens.

Michael also explained the origin of the town’s name. It means nothing other than Cove and is the second-largest natural cove in the world, behind Sydney Cove (now named Sydney Harbour).

Michael said Cobh was originally named Cove but was changed to Queenstown, as it was known at the time of the Titanic disaster.

However, when Ireland declared independence, the name reverted to its original name but with a different spelling.

Because there’s no “v” in the Irish language, the v was replaced with the closest sounding letters “bh”. Cobh is pronounced “Cove”.

Yesterday’s other guest speaker Susie Millar focused on her ancestors’ stories in her talk.

Great-grandfather Tommy Millar was left with two young boys (Tommy junior being five years of age) when his wife died.

He called on an aunt to look after the boys when he boarded the Titanic as an engineer. He gave the boys a penny each and said they weren’t to spend them until the family was together again.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be. Tommy (Snr.) drowned in the disaster.

Tommy (Jnr.) grew up to become a writer and playwright, and his granddaughter, Susie, was now on the Titanic Memorial Cruise specifically to complete the journey her great-grandfather wasn’t able to finish. Susie, also an author, still has the pennies and has written a book titled The Two Pennies.

In another interesting story, a woman we met onboard said her great-grandfather had two tickets for the Titanic’s maiden voyage but didn’t use them. The family has doesn’t know why.

The woman’s mother still has the two original tickets. Organisers of this commemorative trip asked the woman to bring them with her but considering their value, she didn’t.

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Damian, Debbie, Jocelyn and Don at Kelly’s Bar, Cobh, Ireland.

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How we’re travelling weather-wise

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > Irish Sea
April 10, 2012

Don, being one of the few passengers brave enough to venture onto the ship’s deck, was filmed yesterday by the onboard BBC crew as he struggled to walk against the freezing, gale-force winds in a scene reminiscent of Scott of the Antarctic.

The weather here now is said to be colder than it was 100 years ago but there are fewer icebergs in these waters.

There are two schools of thought on the reason. One says it’s due to the impact of global warming, but the other says temperatures were warmer years ago and as a result, icebergs were breaking away from the Arctic and moving south. Because conditions are colder now, the ice hasn’t broken away.

While it would be fantastic to see an iceberg on this trip, at this point my goal is to just get through the trip without barfing. A chronic sea-sickness sufferer, I’ve made it through Day 1 at sea – just!

So to touch terra-firma again at Cobh was welcome in more ways than one.

But … this morning we’ve ALL been issued with barf bags! There must be some rough weather ahead, so a trip to the medical centre for an injection may be first on my agenda today. We won’t see land again for another week.

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Titanic facts of the day

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > Irish Sea
April 10, 2012

  • Of the 123 passengers who embarked from Cobh (Queenstown) only 44 survived.
  • The Titanic was travelling at 22.5 knots when it hit an iceberg on April 15, 1912.
  • The Balmoral’s top speed is 20 knots. We’re currently travelling at 12 knots due to the heavy seas.

Because of the Balmoral’s slower speed, the Titanic Memorial Cruise left Southampton on April 8, two days before the original Titanic set out on its maiden voyage on April 12, 100 years before.

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Famous Titanic ship floating among icebergs on the water.

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Titanic route map.

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Rescue on the high seas

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 11, 2012

My goal to get through this Titanic Memorial Cruise without barfing came to an end yesterday while attending a lecture The Irish Aboard Titanic by Senan Molony in the Neptune Lounge.

Apologies to Senan – the lecture was interesting, but with the Balmoral battling rough seas and the lounge being close to the “pointy end” where movements of the ship, and the contents of my stomach, were more pronounced meant my goal was short-lived. Thank God for barf bags.

Strangely, I’ve felt better since then and I think I’m actually finding my sea legs… but I won’t gloat too soon! It could just be that the sea is calmer today.

Unfortunately, BBC newsman suffered symptoms of a heart attack yesterday and our ship had to back-track for 1.5hrs to reach a point where a rescue helicopter from London could reach us.

There is a doctor and other medical staff onboard but the severity of the man’s condition meant he needed to be hospitalised.

Back on course

We lost half a day’s travel time, but this morning (Wednesday) we’re back on course again albeit behind schedule.

We’re now travelling at 17 knots, up from 12 knots, to make it to the wreck site in time for the memorial service to coincide with the anniversary of the sinking on Saturday.

There is a benefit to our cabins being centrally located on Deck 4, which is just above the staff quarters.

We’re closer to water level and less affected by the strong sways experienced on upper decks and at either end of the ship. I’m watching today’s lectures on TV in the cabin instead.

Today’s speakers are Philip Littlejohn on The story of Alexander Littlejohn, Titanic Steward, and Commodore Ron Warwick on Researching Officers of Titanic & Carpathia on the Internet.

Philip Littlejohn’s grandfather Alexander Littlejohn survived but he was so shocked by the event that his hair turned completely white within eight months.

He was riddled with guilt about surviving while so many women and children died.

However, he had been allowed on to a lifeboat located on the port side when no more women and children answered the call to board.

The starboard side’s first officer interpreted the captain’s instruction as “women and children first.”

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Don, Jocelyn, Debbie and Damian at sea on the Titanic Memorial Cruise ship, the MV Balmoral.

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All is well

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 13, 2012

The wild weather at the start of the Titanic Memorial Cruise that caused about half the 1300 passengers to be seasick has settled.

The sea has calmed and it’s been two days since I’ve needed medication, so in Captain Robert Bamberg’s words: “All is well.”

We’re now about 500 nautical miles from the wreck site and need to maintain a speed of at least 14 knots to reach the spot by Saturday night.

We’re currently moving at 16 knots so should get there with a few hours to spare.

We’ve been turning our clocks back one hour each day but on Saturday (tomorrow), we turn the clocks back another one hour and 27 minutes. The odd number of minutes is because our time needs to equal that of exactly 100 years ago when the memorial service is held.

At the service, which will be at the same time as the sinking, a wreath will be laid on behalf of all Australians.

There were five Australians on the Titanic; three survived.

Two hundred and thirty-five Aussies are on this Titanic Memorial Cruise, which is the third-largest nationality represented. Six are from Maryborough.

Britain has the most number of passengers with 479, followed by America with 269.

We won’t know until tomorrow morning where the service will be held.

Where 1300 passengers plus crew will fit is unknown, although I’m assuming we’ll line the decks surrounding the ship.

But if the weather is bad, we may be forced into the lounges. If so, a number of lounges will need to be used with the Vicar’s words being transmitted over the captain’s intercom system that can be heard throughout the ship.

Tonight is the Titanic Memorial Cruise Formal Dinner when we’ll be served the chef’s interpretation of the Titanic’s dinner 100 years on.

There’s also an opportunity for one large group photo of everyone in costume, plus we get to meet Captain Bamberg.

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 13, 2012

Titanic Memorial Cruise_Woman

The most interesting talk for me of the past two days onboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise was The Unsinkable Molly Brown, by Janet Kalstrom, who presented in the first person. It was standing room only in the lounge where she spoke.

The estranged wife of Mr J.J. Brown, Margaret Brown, was travelling alone from France to New York to visit her sick grandchild whom she had never seen when the disaster happened.

Known as Maggie to close friends (the name Molly was created by Hollywood), she was in bed reading a book when the Titanic struck the iceberg.

She ventured into the hallway when she thought it was odd the ship’s engines had stopped, however it wasn’t until she returned to her cabin and saw a “bug-eyed” man looking through her window telling her to put on her lifejacket and get outside.

Two men lifted her into her lifeboat where she disagreed with instructions given by the lifeboat’s captain and admitted to thinking at one stage everyone would be better served if he were to “swim”.

On the Capathia, Maggie was elected president of the committee formed to look after the survivors’ welfare. She was dubbed “unsinkable” by an author who wrote a book about the disaster in the 1930s.

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The Unsinkable Molly Brown entertains a crowd on the Balmoral as part of the Titanic Memorial Cruise.

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Captain’s impeccable timing

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 14, 2012

Our captain’s timing was impeccable yesterday with the first words of his daily noon cruise report.

A few seconds either way and Captain Robert Bamberg would not have attracted the applause of passengers in the Neptune Lounge who were listening to authors Jack Eaton and Charles Haas present their talk, A Titanic Mythallany.

Jack was saying the lack of a public address system was the one factor above all others, including the shortage of lifeboats, that had contributed to the loss of at least 400+ lives in the Titanic disaster when …. “Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking,” could be heard throughout the Balmoral.

More than 400 people died for no other reason than the lack of communication on board the Titanic. While the available lifeboats could seat about 1600 people, 400+ seats were empty.

Jack said public address systems were not introduced to cruise ships until some years after the disaster. The only means the Titanic crew had to alert passengers of the impending tragedy was to knock on doors.

Captain Smith had only a loud hailer, which wasn’t sufficient enough to be heard on a ship the length of three American football fields and over the voices of people making their way to the lifeboats.

In less than 24 hours, on Sunday, April 15, 2012, we’ll be listening to the onboard Vicar conduct a memorial service for all those lost in that disaster 100 years ago. We expect his voice will be heard on the ship’s public address system.

Meeting the Titanic Memorial Cruise captain

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 14, 2012

Unlike Captain Lars, who had a beard and could pass for Billy Joel’s brother, on our Hawaiian cruise in 2006, Robert Bamberg doesn’t fit the traditional profile of a sea captain—he’s tall, slim and blond, of Swedish origin (I think). Before last night’s dinner, we were invited to meet the captain in the Neptune Lounge.

Timing was everything

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 14, 2012

Fifteen seconds on either side of the call “Hard to Starboard” would have made the world of difference to the fate of the Titanic and its passengers and crew.

During yesterday’s talk, A Titanic Mythallany, authors Jack Eaton and Charles Haas said research had shown that if the instruction to turn the wheel “Hard to Starboard” had been made 15 seconds earlier, the Titanic would have moved far enough from the iceberg to avoid extensive damage.

Fifteen seconds later and the ship would have hit the iceberg head-on. The front end would have been crushed but water would not have filled over two compartments and the Titanic would not have sunk.

But it seems fate would have it the Titanic was on a collision course with an iceberg no matter what.

The ship’s maiden voyage was initially set for March 20, 1912, but three times construction was delayed due to repair work that needed to be done on the sister ship Olympic. And the presence of icebergs in this part of the Atlantic Ocean in April was rare.

Jack and Charles also busted myths on the extent of damage caused by the iceberg (it wasn’t a 30-metre gash in the hull but a series of small incisions), and in what condition the car, made famous in the James Cameron’s movie Titanic, was being transported.

“If Rose and Jack had really had a love tryst in the backseat of that car, they would have been seeing a doctor soon after to have splinters removed,” Jack said.

At that time, cars were not transported whole. They were disassembled and packed into wooden crates.

Jack and Charles’s books, Titanic – Triumph and Tragedy, and Titanic – Destination Disaster, are available from Amazon.com.

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Authors Jack Eaton and Charles Haas sign their books.

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Titanic Memorial Cruise formal dinner

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 14, 2012

My selections from last night’s Titanic Dinner Menu, which was our chef’s interpretation of the Titanic’s dinner:

  • First Course: Salmon with Mousseline Sauce. Lightly poached salmon, with classic Hollandaise sauce and whipped cream.
  • Second Course: Cream of Barley. Barley simmered with vegetable stock and a dollop of whisky cream.
  • Third Course: Asparagus Salad. Blanched green and white asparagus, drizzled with champagne saffron vinaigrette.
  • Fourth Course: Punch Romaine. A real palate cleanser. A punch with crushed ice, fresh orange and lemon juice, white wine and drizzled with Bacardi rum.
  • Fifth Course: Filet Mignon Lili. Grilled to your liking, on sliced fried potatoes, served with roasted cherry tomatoes, baby carrots and Madeira sauce.
  • Sixth Course: Waldorff Pudding. Sautéed apple, raisins and ginger, baked with custard and sprinkled with caramelized walnuts.
  • Seventh Course: Selection of Cheese.
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Asparagus Salad.

 

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Filet Mignon Lili.

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It’s a small world after all

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 14, 2012

When Debbie, Damian, Don and I left Maryborough for this Titanic Memorial Cruise, we thought the city of 26,000 people was well represented having four residents among Australia’s 235 passengers.

We were wrong; there are six. Nisha Van Wyk and her daughter Mikaila are also here.

Nisha had seen our photo on the Fraser Coast Chronicle before leaving and once the cruise was underway, she contacted us via the reception.

Nisha is a teacher at Riverside Christain College and Mikaila attends Maryborough West School.

Our new friends from Canberra, Ian and Jenny, have told us Australia’s capital city also has six citizens onboard, but since Canberra has a much larger population than Maryborough—we’ve claimed a higher percentage of representation.

We’ve also met fellow Aussies from Perth and Ipswich on the Titanic Memorial Cruise 2012.

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Damian and Debbie Foale, Nisha and Mikaila Van Wyk, Jocelyn and Don Watts.

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Ice cubes for Bradley

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 14, 2012

Here’s a photo for our 3-year-old grandson Bradley in Charleville, Queensland.

His mum was having trouble describing to him what an iceberg was; the only thing she had to relate it to was an ice cube.

So for Bradly, this is the closest we’ve seen to an iceberg so far on this Titanic Memorial Cruise.

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A glass of ice cubes.

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In memory of all those who sailed on the Titanic

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 15, 2012

It’s difficult to imagine what was going through the minds of people on board the Titanic on that fateful night on April 14/15 exactly  100 years ago.

Sitting in my cabin at 11.40 pm tonight as Captain Robert Bamberg gave his address and announced the start of two minutes silence I visualised myself hearing the ship hit an iceberg and then experiencing the chaos that followed.

I soon felt the horror of putting on my lifejacket, making my way through the corridor and pushing my way through crowds of people toward the lifeboats.

Yesterday the electricity failed for a just few seconds while I was in one of the ship’s lifts. That was long enough as I imagined being stuck in the lift while the ship was sinking. There’d be no way out.

It took a conscious effort to snap myself back to the present and focus on the purpose of the silence.

Passengers onboard the Balmoral tonight were divided into two groups for the first half of the memorial service starting at 1 am. One group met in a restaurant; the other is a lounge. As Debbie, Damian, Don and I made our way to the lounge,

I again started imagining myself slipping below the surface of the freezing waters of the North Atlantic Ocean and was thankful we were instead going to a memorial service.

There are 1305 passengers on board this ship, which is 198 less than the number of people who died in the Titanic disaster (1503).

As we slowly filed our way out of the lounge, I imagined myself in the same slow and tedious line, not peacefully walking towards the aft decks for the second half of the service, but desperately trying to get through the crowds to claim a seat in a lifeboat.

I wasn’t alone. Two men behind me were discussing what it would feel like to drown.

One said it would be “dreadful” to breathe in water; the other said it would only take one breath of water to drown but said the sensation would be euphoric. We all “breathed” fluid in our mothers’ wombs, after all, he said.

I preferred not to think about it and tuned them out to focus instead on the fruit tea being provided in commemorative mugs by staff as we filed through the doors.

As one of the last passengers to reach the aft decks, it was difficult to find even just a few centimetres of space through which I could take some photos.

Eventually, on the highest deck, a generous woman from Minnesota moved aside for a few moments to allow me some space. Her husband was also imagining how the passengers of the Titanic were feeling.

“Just think,” he said. “They would have been out here like this, the water about 20 degrees colder and once the Titanic’s lights went out it would have been pitch black (being a moonless night).”

The warm fruit tea I was still sipping from the mug was even more welcome, and I again thought how lucky I was to be on the Titanic Memorial Cruise ship, the Balmoral, rugged up in a warm jacket, scarf and gloves, and not experiencing the tragedy of 100 years ago.

I’m not a descendant or relative of the Titanic’s victims or survivors, just someone from the other side of the world who’s been touched by the stories of heroism, survival and tragedy… and ever so grateful that maritime laws have changed dramatically that travel by sea is now much safer.

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A scene from the top deck during the second half of the Titanic Memorial Cruise’s service.

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Steerage class ‘tea’

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 15, 2012

Last night our Titanic Memorial Cruise chefs treated us to a sample of the steerage class tea menu. I had Ragout of Beef with Potatoes and Pickles – a hearty beef stew with carrots and thickened with potatoes and vegetables, which was most enjoyable, evoking memories of the home-cooked meals I had as a child.

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Titanic’s steerage class typical dinner: Ragout of Beef.

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­­Titanic tributes

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 15, 2012

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Tributes are on display in the Titanic Memorial Cruise library.

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We’re on the move again

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 15, 2012

Our next stop on the Titanic Memorial Cruise is tomorrow night (Monday) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

We spend a full day there on Tuesday and then do the final leg of the Titanic Memorial Cruise journey to New York.

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Halifax

North America > Canada > Nova Scotia > Halifax
April 18, 2012

After Cobh, Ireland, my next favourite place in the world now is Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Deb described Canada as being: “Just like the USA without the steroids”.

The Canadian people are friendly; the place is relaxed, it’s easy to get around and feels safe.

Halifax is an industrial city and not what you’d call picturesque, that is except for the port itself where our ship, Balmoral, docked from Monday 6 pm to Tuesday 6 pm.

Keen to stand on firm ground again asap, Debbie & Damian, Ian & Jenny (from Canberra), Don & I couldn’t wait to disembark as soon as we docked.

We took a brisk walk along the boardwalk to a steakhouse, where we sat down and tucked into huge, fresh, steaks.

While on the subject of “fresh”, I’ll add here that with Halifax being a seaside port I (wrongly) thought maybe the Titanic Memorial Cruise ship would take the opportunity to stock up on fresh seafood so at last night’s dinner I asked how fresh the prawns were.

I hadn’t been game try them since the first day at sea in case they’d gone off. A waiter had laughed: “There’s nothing fresh on this ship!” Well, it was worth the question.

While in port we made the most of any fresh food we could find.

The Two Dees (Deb & Damian) and Ian & Jenny ordered lobsters straight from the tank for lunch at the Tug’s Pub for lunch at only $20 each, about half what they cost in Australia.

The day in Halifax was awesome.

We started out on foot via the same boardwalk as the night before and, being a shutterbug, I had to keep stopping every few paces to capture the incredible foggy waterside scenes.

We eventually made it into town and took a taxi to the graveyard where bodies recovered from the Titanic disaster were buried.

Initially, we and the Two Dees tried to book a day-long tour, but soon found it was fully booked so we did our own personal tour.

However, the constant stream of people from the many busloads of tourists going through the graveyard made it difficult to read the inscriptions and fully appreciate the moment.

We were able to read a few inscriptions though.

One grave in particular stood out for me: A 32-year-old Australian engineer who had boarded the Titanic bound for Canada where he was to meet with friends to go travelling.

His body was the 209th of 303 to be retrieved from the water; a book titled “209” has been written on his story.

His gravestone was much bigger than most others with his family paying the extra above what was provided by the shipping company that built the Titanic, White Starline.

The last body, 303, wasn’t retrieved until May 1912, a month after the disaster.

The engineer was one of only two Australians we’ve heard about since being on this trip. There were five – three died, and two survived.

One of the survivors was a nurse who had been living in England and not long before the trip, met a doctor. The two were to travel together but he, at the last minute, wasn’t able to sail. Had been on the ship, he, being a male, most likely would have died. She survived and the two met again later and married.

Titanic Memorial Cruise passengers also visited the Halifax museum where Titanic artifacts are kept, such as a deck chair that was retrieved from the ocean and restored.

After lunch at the Tug’s Pub in Halifax, the Three Dees (Deb, Damian & Don), headed back to the ship while Ian, Jenny and I found a taxi driver who’d take us over the city’s two bridges, show us some of Canada’s unique houses, and the memorial site for the 1916 disaster when two ships collided.

One ship was carrying ammunition and the collision caused a massive blast that flattened the surrounding area for 2.6 km and killed more than 3000 people.

That disaster, therefore, was bigger than the Titanic, but it isn’t as well known.

The best part of the day was being able to stretch our legs after being at sea for a week.

There is a gym on board. I got onto one of the treadmills about Day 3 and as Captain Bamberg would say “all was well”  — it was a magnificent view from the gym’s treadmill on one of the top decks overlooking the ship’s bow — until I looked down and, being prone to seasickness, the damn thing nearly threw me off!

It was like a bad case of vertigo so I hit the emergency stop button and haven’t been back since.

Pilates sessions onboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise happen daily at 3 pm. At least lying on the floor would mean I wouldn’t fall off anything, but we’re talking 3 pm here– that’s after lunch and siesta time, so forget it!

After our day of sightseeing and hiking around Halifax, we were all back on deck by 5.30 pm, in time for the Balmoral to set sail at 6 pm.

Today, Wednesday 18th is the Titanic Memorial Cruise’s last full day at sea. We should arrive in New York tomorrow at about 8 am, and leave the ship for our two booked tours– four hours each, one by day and the other by night.

We then have one more night onboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise ship Balmoral, and on Friday our luggage will be transferred directly to the airport while we do some more sightseeing before boarding the plane for home.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_bridge in New York

Brooklyn Bridge, New York.

PHOTO GALLERY

Finally home… in body, but the spirit is still catching up!

Oceania > Australia > Queensland > Maryborough

April 26, 2012

Wow, what a ride! After a bus terminal fiasco in New York that led to us spending six extra hours at the JFK Etihad air terminal instead sharing a farewell drink with Deb & Damian at Times Square, plus 30 hours in the air (broken by just a two-hour stint in Abu Dhabi), and then hitting the ground running (with photography bookings) before we’d even arrived back in Maryborough, it’s only now I can now update my blog of the Titanic Memorial Cruise 2012. Enjoy reading!

 

*First published as WhatsWattsDoin Blog at https://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/WhatsWattsDoin/

COURIER MAIL: Titanic tragedy remembered

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