100th Anniversary of the Sinking of the RMS Titanic in 2012
(Dive Travel Business News - April 15, 2010) -- Bill Willard is a self-described Titanic enthusiast who wants to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the White Star Line luxury cruise liner Titanic - in a big way. Willard has teamed up with upscale line Azamara Club Cruises to offer "Voyages! Titanic 2012" to commemorate the maritime disaster. He knows there will be a lot of enthusiasts like himself ready to make the cruise of a lifetime to the world's most famous shipwreck.
Sailing out of Boston, the 700-passenger Azamara Journey will provide a nine-day "voyage of remembrance and exploration" to the site of the wreck of the famed ship that sank April 15, 1912.
Azamara Journey, with its dark livery and subdued Edwardian style interior decor, seems like a diminutive version of an early 20th century trans-Atlantic steamship. Though the decor is evolving, the ship's interior architecture is still evocative of that bygone era. The main entry hall is straight out of the "golden age." There's no soaring multi-deck atrium here. Instead, there's simply a gracefully curving staircase under a two-deck-high ceiling, capped with a domed, simulated stained glass skylight, leading one flight up to the main public room.
Days at sea will feature on board presenters including historians with expertise on the Titanic, and direct descendants of original passengers or crew members. An expedition ship equipped with a remotely operated vehicle will meet the Amazara Journey at the site where Titanic's wreck was discovered in 1985, and the remote vehicle will dive to the wreckage to relay live video to passengers.
In addition to visiting the site of the Titanic sinking, the Azamara voyage will include a day of touring in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the city that received Titanic's recovered victims. There are 150 Titanic Victims buried in Halifax, the largest number anywhere in the world. Another 119 bodies of Titanic victims were recovered but buried at sea and 59 more were shipped home to relatives.
The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax has what is generally recognized as the world's finest collection of wooden artifacts from Titanic. Halifax was the closest major port to the 1912 sinking and all of the recovered bodies were brought to Halifax, along with many pieces of wreckage. These fragments, including a near perfectly preserved deckchair and large pieces of oak carving, are featured as part of the museum's permanent exhibit.
"The program will have something for all ages and interest levels. Some programs will be dramatic, and others will be more lecture-oriented," says Willard.
Deemed unsinkable, the RMS Titanic was the largest passenger steamship of her day in the world. The ship left on its maiden voyage on April 10, 1912 from Southampton, England bound for New York City under the command of Captain Edward J. Smith. Traveling at 22.5 knots, just .5 knots below its maximum capability, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40 pm on April 14, 1912. The ship sunk 2 hours and 40 minutes later on April 15, 1912 about 400 miles off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.
The disaster took the lives of 1503 passengers and crew. Only 705 people survived. There were not enough lifeboat seats available for all of Titanic's passengers - the ship carried only 1178 lifeboat seats for 2208 passengers. There were enough life jackets for all 2208 passengers and most of the people died of exposure floating in their life jackets in the 31 degree F water.
Captain Smith had drawn up a new course in response to iceberg warnings received in the previous days. On the day of the collision, the liner had received 6 iceberg warnings. But the new warnings were ignored by the wireless operators who were employed by Marconi: They were paid to relay messages to and from passengers and were not preoccupied with relaying 'non-essential' iceberg messages to the bridge.
The ship's passengers included many of the social elite from the USA and England. Some of the famous passengers on the Titanic included millionaire John Jacob Astor and his wife Madeleine, industrialist Benjamin Guggenheim, Macy's owner Isador Straus and his wife Ida, and millionairess Molly Brown, wife of a Colorado silver mine entrepreneur. Molly Brown became famous in her own right for being the only woman to have rowed a lifeboat to safety. Financier J.P. Morgan who funded the construction of the Titanic was scheduled to travel on the Titanic's maiden voyage but cancelled at the last moment.
Conditions on the night of the disaster had made it difficult to see icebergs - it was a moonless night in still seas. The iceberg left a gash in the hull that was over 220 feet long. Water quickly rushed into the 5 waterproof compartments of the "unsinkable" ship. The compartments were actually not waterproof but open at the top. As the ship was sinking, the stern rose up out of the water and broke in two between the second and third funnels.
Using sonar equipment, the site of the wreck was discovered in September 1, 1985, on a combined expedition of scientists led by Dr. Robert Ballard of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. The team returned a year later with a deep sea submersible called Alvin and a remotely operated underwater robot called Jason Junior or JJ. Piloting the deep sub Alvin on it's first descent July 13, 1986, Robert Ballard and his co-pilot got their first glimpse of the Titanic. The Titanic lies in 12,600 feet of water with the bow and stern some 1970 feet from each other.
Of the commemorative anniversay voyage to the Titanic, "This will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Willard told USA TODAY. "We're designing this voyage to be a first-class experience for everyone from start to finish."
Willard says there will be a memorial service honoring the ship and its passengers that will include a moment-by-moment recounting of the night the ship went down. A lasting memorial will also be lowered to rest on the sea floor beside the bow of the great ship, paying tribute to the Titanic's legacy.
More details of the cruise are online at Willard's website Voyages to Remember.
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