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zondag, april 08, 2012

Titanic memorial cruise sets sail

The Titanic departing on her ill-fated maiden voyage from Southampton on 10 April 1912The Titanic set sail on her ill-fated maiden voyage from Southampton on 10 April 1912

Relatives of some of those who died on the Titanic will travel to the site in the North Atlantic where the liner sank to mark 100 years since the disaster.

MS Balmoral will leave Southampton docks later, retracing the route of the ill-fated cruise liner's maiden voyage.

The ship, carrying 1,309 passengers - the same number as were on the Titanic - is due to reach the wreck site next weekend for a memorial ceremony.

The Titanic hit an iceberg on 15 April 1912 and sank claiming 1,517 lives.

The Balmoral is due to leave England's south coast at 15:00 GMT, and will follow the Titanic's exact route - via Cherbourg in north-west France and Cobh on the south coast of County Cork, Ireland - to the spot where the liner sank.

Passengers will gather on deck for a memorial ceremony at 23:40 GMT, the exact time ship the hit the iceberg exactly 100 years on. Another service will be held at 02:20 GMT to mark the moment it sank.

Some relatives have planned to bring wreaths of flowers and family artefacts in memory of those who died.

'Always remember'

Titanic - Essential info

Titanic stern

  • The RMS Titanic was built in Belfast by Harland and Wolff
  • The largest vessel in the world when it entered service in 1912 - it had a capacity of 46,328grt (gross registered tons) and weighed about 52,300 tonnes
  • Approximately 1,300 passengers, ranging from millionaires to poor emigrants and about 900 crew were on board
  • The ship included a swimming pool, library, restauraunts and a gym
  • On 10 April 1912 the Titanic left Southampton for Cherbourg in France and Queenstown, Ireland, before heading for New York
  • On 14 April 1912, 460 miles (740km) from Newfoundland, it hit an iceberg at 23:40 (Ship's Time)
  • The ship took two-and-a-half hours to sink
  • The first life boat, designed for 40 passengers, left with 27 people
  • About 713 people were rescued by RMS Carpathia
  • There is no definitive agreement over the number of casualties - 1,500 is the number usually cited
  • In 1985 Dr Robert Ballard discovered the wreck 2.5 miles (4km) below the surface of the north Atlantic

Passengers making the journey, who come from more than 20 countries, also include relatives of survivors, authors, historians and people who are fascinated by the Titanic story.

They will eat meals from the Titanic's original menu and attend lectures given by historians and experts.

Philip Littlejohn, grandson of survivor Alexander James Littlejohn, and the only Titanic relative to have made the dive to the wreck site, said: "I'm sure my grandfather, a 1st Class Steward on RMS Titanic, would be proud to know his story will be shared with the passengers on this historic cruise.

"It will be an emotional moment when we are over the wreck site, where I dived in 2001, and where my grandfather left Titanic rowing Lifeboat 13."

Jane Allen, whose great uncle Tom Pears died in the disaster, is among passengers who have paid up to �6,000 ($9,000) to join the commemorative voyage.

"I don't think it's ghoulish or macabre at all," said Mrs Allen, from Devon.

"I've been to the World War II and I cemeteries in various places across the world. I think it's always important to remember."

From the wreck-site, the Balmoral will go on to Nova Scotia, where some of the bodies of those who died are buried, and then onto New York City, the destination the Titanic never reached.

The Fred Olsen Cruise Lines-operated MS Balmoral was chartered for the 12-night journey by Miles Morgan Travel.

Miles Morgan, managing director, said the company had sought to make the voyage "a sympathetic memorial to the passengers and crew who lost their lives".


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