The sinking of the cruise ship Titanic on April 15, 1912, will be commemorated next year by at least 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 off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, with the loss of about 1,500 lives.
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 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 – another legacy of the Titanic.