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Memorial?

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On April 8, 2012 the MS Balmoral, operated by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines (owned by Harland and Wolff, the builders of Titanic) will sail from Southampton.  The trip is being marketed as the Titanic Memorial Cruise.

The cruise will attempt to duplicate the original crossing in many ways.  Only 1309 passengers will be boarded, identical to Titanic’s passenger complement.  The route will be identical to that of Titanic, departing from the port of Cobh in Ireland, Titanic’s last port of call, on April 11th, 100 years to the day after her departure.

Plans call for Balmoral to arrive on April 14th at 1140PM at the exact spot that Titanic struck an iceberg.  A memorial service will be held several hours later, at 220AM, marking the time Titanic sank with such a tragic loss of life.  From there the ship will travel onward to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Those who choose to do so will have the opportunity here to visit Fairview Lawn Cemetery, where 121 victims are buried.  Ultimately, the ship will arrive in New York, a destination not granted to Titanic and so many of her passengers and crew.

I had originally thought to call this post “Ship of Ghouls”, but decided that the title seemed somewhat  strong.  The concept, however, still strikes me as a bit – well, ghoulish.  This isn’t designed as simply a retracement of Titanic’s route, it‘s a re-enactment.  The menus will be identical to those served on that fateful voyage.  The same is true for the music and entertainment.  The one difference?  These passengers have every reason to believe that they will arrive safely in New York, unlike those 1517 victims who they are “memorializing”.
Of the 21 cabin categories on board Balmoral, 15 are already sold out.  Of the 6 remaining, 2 are listed as having limited availability.  Clearly, there is demand and I certainly recognize that there is widespread  fascination with Titanic.  The story resonates with us.  It’s the method of marking the anniversary of such a tragic event that bothers me.  The idea simply makes me uneasy.

What do you think?  Am I being overly sensitive?  I’d very much like to hear your thoughts.

2 Responses

I think it is a fitting tribute to those who tragically lost their lives and loved ones. The fact that Cunard are not offering the same trip somewhat annoys me, and I do not think that Olsen is lining his pockets here – but rather offering a sensitive and fitting centenial memorial.

  • EUHunter, thanks for your comment. Obviously, we come down on different sides of this issue, but I appreciate your taking the time to add to the discussion.

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