The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the “unsinkable” ship Titanic on April 15, 1912, will be commemorated this week with two cruises that will visit the spot where the mighty ship went down. The ship was thought to be unsinkable, but on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York, the Titanic struck a massive iceberg. The ship sank less than three hours later, 2:20 AM, off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, with the loss of about 1,500 lives.

It is hard to believe that the exact location of the wreckage of the Titanic remained unknow and undiscovered until 1985 by Dr. Robert Ballard, although he had been seriously interested in finding the Titanic since 1973. The Titanic was actually discovered accidentially while Dr. Ballard was on a mission for the US Navy to photograph and film the remains of the nuclear submarine Scorpion whose sinking had been undetemined.

Seamen from Halifax, Nova Scotia recovered over 300 bodies of which 121 Titanic vicitims are buried in three cemeteries, more than you’ll find anywhere else above sea level. While in Halifax you can visit these cemeteries as well as the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic where part of the museum’s exhibit space is occupied with Titanic artifacts.

If you are ever in Belfast, Ireland you can visit the Harland & Wolff Shipyard where the Titanic was built. Earlier this month a new Titanic museum also opened in Belfast. Over the years there has been a traveling exhibit throughout the world of artifacts and memorabilia recovered from the Titanic.

On this, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, a British travel firm has chartered a ship for a Titanic memorial voyage departing from Southampton, England, on April 8, 2012, and ending in New York. The entire cruise will be steeped in Titanic history, with menus, music and entertainment much as they were on the Titanic. After a stop in Cobh, Ireland, the ship will arrive at the spot where the Titanic sank, where a memorial service will be held. The ship will then call on Halifax, Nova Scotia, where passengers can visit the cemeteries where Titanic victims are buried.

Azamara Club Cruises will send the Journey from Boston on April 9, 2012, to the spot where the Titanic sank. Bill Willard, who developed the remote-operated vehicle (ROV) used to explore the sunken ship during the 1998 Titanic expedition, will be on board, along with authors and historians who have studied the Titanic. Passengers can attend a variety of lectures and presentations on the history of the ship, its passengers, and expeditions to the site of the wreck. On April 14, an expedition ship equipped with an ROV will meet the Journey at the sinking site. The ROV will dive to the wreck and relay live video images of the resting Titanic.

While the sinking of the Titanic was a tragedy, it prompted changes in ship design and communications that have benefitted cruise travelers ever since. After the Titanic, ships were built with double hulls and taller bulkheads for watertight compartments. Wireless communication devices became mandatory for ships at sea, enabling crews to obtain weather reports, check their locations with precision and call for help in emergencies. While the doomed ship had enough lifeboats for only half of its passengers and crew, today’s ships have enough lifeboat space to accommodate everyone on board.

The legacy of the Titanic has continued to captivate us all for years. Over the years many books and movies have told the story from different perspecives. The 1997 movie “Titanic” did a lot to glamorize this tragedy and now it has been re-released in 3D to once again re-kindle our interest.

Until next time,
Bon Voyage

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Ole Nordhavn, Cruise Holidays, “your personal cruise expert.”
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