The Titanic Memorial Cruise set sail from Southampton yesterday (April 8th) to trace the doomed route taken by the original “unsinkable ship” that went down in the North Atlantic 100 years ago. The MS Balmoral carries 1309 passengers, the same number on board in 1912, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
About 50 passengers are related to Titanic victims, one of whom is Jane Allen, who lost her great uncle in the sinking while her aunt was able to survive by boarding a lifeboat. ”It is still quite unbelievable what happened that night,” Allen, who is traveling on the memorial cruise with her husband, Frank, told the Herald.
Most everyone who boarded the ship yesterday was dressed in Edwardian costumes; Some first class passengers, and others as steerage and crew members. Dishes from the original voyage will be served, and a Belgium band will play period music.
The idea is not to cheapen what happened 100 years ago, but to memorialize it. When the ship arrives at the site of the sinking, a service will be held to remember those who did not survive. ”We are not here to mock,” passenger Graham Free told the Herald. ”We are here to enjoy and remember those who were unfortunately lost. I think it’s going to be emotional when we get above the wreck site and have the service.”
Organizer Miles Morgan explained, “This cruise has been five years in the making and every step of the way we have sought to make it authentic to the era and a sympathetic memorial to the passengers and crew who lost their lives.” The ship will pull into New York on April 19th, having had to leave two days early because it can’t steam as fast as the Titanic did.
A cruise ship from New York will meet up with the MS Balmoral at the wreckage site.
The Guardian reported earlier today that high winds have delayed the MS Balmoral’s route to Cobh, Ireland (Titanic’s final port of call). And just so everyone’s clear: “Those aboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise were at pains to point out that though the 12-night trip was retracing the route of the doomed Titanic 100 years ago, it was categorically not re-enacting it.”