Rick and Marla's
on the Titanic Memorial Cruise
by Rick Archer
April 26, 2012
The sinking of the
RMS Titanic on early Monday morning, April 15, 1912,
is considered to be the most dramatic tragedy of the
Twentieth Century. 2012 marked the
100th Anniversary of the disaster.
On April 14, 2012,
two cruise ships, one sailing from the United
Kingdom and one from New York City, met in the
middle of the North Atlantic at the exact
site where the Titanic rests today.
was an odd pilgrimage because no one could actually
verify this was the exact spot where the Titanic
went down. There was absolutely nothing to
see, not even a commemorative iceberg or a James
Cameron poster. Oh well. We took the Captain's
word for it that we were in the right place.
The seeds of this unusual
"Anniversary Cruise" can be traced back to 2008.
One day a man whose father had died on the Titanic
asked a Welsh travel agent named Miles Morgan if he
knew of any trips headed to the site of the Titanic
disaster on the 100th anniversary of the disaster.
Morgan shook his head no. He
hadn't heard of anything.
So the man said, "You know, I'm not the only one. I
know several people who are descendants not just of
the people who died, but the survivors as well.
There are lots of people who are keen on visiting
the ocean grave site. Why don't you organize a
Why not indeed? So Miles Morgan chartered a
cruise ship named the Balmoral to sail from
Southampton, England, to the grave site to
commemorate the event. To his surprise, the
trip didn't just sell out… it sold out quickly.
Impressed, Morgan chartered a second ship
to handle the overflow.
His second ship, the Azamara
Journey, would leave out of New York and meet the Balmoral
at the watery grave of the Titanic which lie two and a half
miles below. There we would meet to
honor the victims of the disaster.
In a stroke of good fortune,
Marla and I had
the opportunity to be part of this
event when we were hired to be the Ballroom
dance instructors on the trip.
Marla and I sailed on Azamara Journey.
was intense from the very start. Our ship the Journey
was docked in the New York harbor within a hundred of where
the Carpathia, the ship that had rescued the
survivors, had docked a hundred years earlier.
Throughout the trip there were constant reminders of the
events of that fateful night. were with us constantly.
That specter of sadness loomed everywhere.
The trip was a very
interesting experience, frequently fun
and sometimes very sad.
I can honestly say I was never bored,
that's for sure. I met some amazing people on this
trip. Out of my experience, I have written
One is a look at the serious side of the Titanic disaster.
in this particular story, I would like to share a
lighter side to the trip.
The Titanic Trekkies
To appreciate this story,
you have to understand the sort of people who shared the
journey on the Azamara Journey with Marla and me.
Surely you have all heard of
Trekkies? A Trekkie is someone who
big fan of the original Star Trek
from the Sixties. At this point I assume
the phrase is big enough to include fans of the spin-off
series as well.
You can tell them fairly
easily. They go to enormous annual
conventions wearing pointy ears
like Spock and buy all sorts of Spockanalia items. One
thing that distinguishes a Trekkie is their willingness to
buy any Star Trek-related merchandise at the drop of a hat.
One thing about Trekkies -
they love to wear their costumes. They walk around wearing
the same outfits worn by Kirk and Spock or perhaps even a
Klingon outfit… although they know they are risking their
lives to do so. Any smart-ass
remark to someone wearing a Kirk outfit might
just elicit a phaser
retaliation. Hope they
remember to set the gun on "stun-only".
I have never been to a Star
Trek convention, but I have certainly
heard the stories. These people are fairly rabid
about Star Trek. Fortunately most of them have had their
It is my
understanding that some Trekkies are permanently
crazed. There is no known cure.
They live lives of quiet desperation waiting for the next
movie or TV series to come out.
One tell-tale sign
you are dealing with a Trekkie is their amazing grasp of
every possible detail of the show. Ask any Trekkie and you
will find they possess an encyclopedic knowledge of all
things Star Trek.
I am here to report there
are people who revere the Titanic in much the same way
people love their Star Trek. They
are politely referred to as "Titanic Buffs". I know
they exist for a fact because
I met some of them on the trip.
My first clue was
the men and women who dressed in
different period costumes to every evening meal. You would
assume this was a girl-thing since women love clothes so
much, but there were quite a few men who participated fully
Sadly, considering Marla and
I had to bribe the guy at the airport with a massive tip
just to get our two 53-pound suitcases on the flight with no
surcharge, I had to leave my dozens of Edwardian costumes
back in Houston.
What a shame. I felt a real sense of regret not being able
to participate in the ship-wide
costume ball. However, that didn’t stop me from admiring
the people who did dress up. Trust me, it was very charming
A major characteristic of
the Trekkies is their voluminous grasp of Star Trek
details. Here too the Titanic crowd did not disappoint.
They knew all things Titanic like the back of their hand.
These people are incredible.
I had heard that there is an
“Encyclopedia Titanica” on the Internet, but
at least on this trip I didn't need
access to the Internet. All I had to do was ask
practically any stranger a question and I would get a pretty
I met at least a half-dozen
people who are literally walking talking reference volumes
on Titanic lore. I suspected there were many more on board,
but I just didn’t have time to interview everyone.
My favorite expert was Bob
Daugherty. Bob is an award-winning high school teacher
right here in Houston. He teaches
history and geography at Dobie High School. By coincidence,
Bob and his wife Nanette even took a
Salsa class from SSQQ back when the studio was on Bissonnet.
Bob and I hit it right off.
We quickly discovered we had all sorts of things in common.
A graduate of the University of Houston, Bob and I wept
openly as we recalled Phi Slamma Jamma’s narrow defeat in
the 1984 NCAA basketball finals to North Carolina State.
The pain still lingers for both of us.
Bob and I had long
discussions about the Titanic. Just so you understand, I am
not yet a Titanic Trekkie. There are still huge gaps in my
grasp of all the Titanic
details. However, I feel myself being
drawn. Indeed Bob said I was exhibiting symptoms towards
the end of the trip.
Bob, on the other hand,
probably doesn’t mind being identified as a dyed-in-the-wool
Titanic expert. In fact, I think he is proud of it. Bob is
the real deal. Bob is a very bright guy to begin with
he has been at this a long time. Bob said he was reading
his first books on the Titanic as far back as the Fifth
I think what it clinched it
for me was when Bob mentioned he had spent $350 in Halifax
on Titanic memorabilia. Bob is an
undeniable Titanic Trekkie.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax, Nova Scotia, is
a Canadian port
on the east coast that sent rescue ships to the aid
of the Titanic. Unfortunately the
distance to the wreck was 700 miles. The
boats got there far too
late to be of much help to the survivors.
they were given the unenviable task of collecting hundreds
of dead bodies floating on the waters instead. Consequently
Halifax has a cemetery which has been
the final resting place for many Titanic victims
for the past 100 years.
During our visit to Halifax, Bob
visited this cemetery and took many excellent pictures. If
you would like to see his photo collection, visit
Titanic Memorial Cruise April 2012
Ever since that experience, Halifax
has felt a very close connection to the Titanic event. Indeed, one
of the finest collections of Titanic artifacts can be found on
permanent display at the Maritime Museum in Halifax.
Our ship stopped at Halifax on the
way to the Titanic Memorial site so people could visit the cemetery
and other spots of interest. For example, Marla and I stopped at
the Five Fishermen restaurant for lunch. During
our meal of fish and chips and Moosehead beer,
the waitress let it be known that this restaurant was once
the morgue that kept the bodies before burial.
Now that was a definite twist to the
meal. We had no idea about this when we selected this spot to eat.
We both felt a bit strange after that. Were
there any ghosts watching us eat? Just in case, I raised my
glass and said a nice word to let them know I respected them.
I suppose I should make a
confession. I made Marla follow me all over Halifax so I could find
an authentic model of the Titanic to take home with me as a
souvenir. I was desperate to find one, so I went to three different
suggested locations before I finally found my prize at a cigar
shop. Ah! As the man gift-wrapped my $50 trophy, I felt a
powerful sense of
completion surge through my mind.
Mission accomplished. Now I
I wasn't aware
of it at the time, but looking back, like Bob said, I was
starting to exhibit symptoms.
So when I discovered that
Bob had spent $350 on Titanic items, I just nodded. I
understood completely. I am the neophyte and Bob is the
master. I am starting on the path and Bob is further along.
I am sure the day will come when I
will drop $350 on Titanic stuff without a second thought.
Indeed, ours was the perfect
relationship. I have lots of questions about the Titanic
and Bob has lots of answers. One night over dinner we spent
three solid hours talking about the Titanic. It was an
amazing evening for me.
Bob had something knowledgeable to say
on every single question I asked. Bob is so smart he even
discussed Russian history with me in preparation for our
cruise to Russia in August.
Just to give you an insight
into the intricate mind of Bob, I have to share a story.
On the final
day of the trip, the eight lecturers on board were all
assembled in one spot to allow the passengers to do a
question and answer session.
This was exciting.
It was time to ask the
Oh, be still my beating heart!
TITANIC Q & A panel. Mrs Kirk Pope (daughter of
survivor), Gunther Babler, Ken Marschall (TITANIC artist and
Brigette Saar, Tony Markey (Cruise director), Joe (Marconi
expert), John Langley, Don Soulsby,
Bill Miller and Tarn Stefanos
(picture taken by Bob Daugherty)
In preparation, the night
before I had written out a list of ten questions I wanted to
ask the panel. However, when I got to the Q and A room, to
my dismay I found out that all questions were supposed to be
submitted in writing ahead of time. My sorrow knew no
bounds. Too bad. I had some
good ones too.
Q: “Did Captain Smith ever
try to drop people off on the iceberg that hit the ship?”
Q: “Did Captain Smith think to sail the crippled ship in the
direction of the nearby Californian?”
Q: “How did Robert Ballard succeed in finding the underwater
location of the Titanic in 1985 when so many others had
Q: “Why didn’t the passengers try to strap furniture
together and create makeshift rafts?”
Q: “Why didn’t the sailors on the Californian understand the
meaning of the flares?”
Q: “Was it true that the life vests were so poorly designed
that people broke their necks diving over ten feet into the
Q: “Did anyone actually survive like the fictional Rose
Dawson by floating on a door or some piece of furniture?”
Q: “If 1500 died and 700 survived, but only 350 bodies were
found on the ocean surface, does that mean 1150 bodies were
trapped on the Titanic?”
I missed the boat on this one.
wasn’t going to get my questions answered. Despondent, I
left the room to go find Bob. I had a
hunch Bob could answer every one of these questions
off the top of his head.
I knew right where to find
Bob. He was in the Mosaic Room, a
quaint meeting area at the
center of the ship. Unfortunately, Bob was in no mood to be
bothered with my questions. He was about to face one of the
greatest challenges of his life.
This room is where all the
Trivia challenges took place. Not surprisingly, Bob is good
Today’s quiz was the one he
had been waiting for. Today’s Trivia was about the
Titanic! This was the mother of all Trivia challenges.
Imagine the adrenaline coursing through Bob’s veins.
However, the Bob I
encountered was not the ever-confident Bob I was used to.
He actually seemed a bit frustrated. Bob was pumped, but he
was also somehow out of sorts.
I soon learned the reason. A powerful coalition of five
people had narrowly beaten Bob's
team two games in a row. I quietly smiled
at this turn of events. I don’t think
Bob has lost two games of Trivia in a row since he was ten.
Even more problematic, Bob’s
team had deserted him. They were at the Q and A session. Bob was facing the Dream
Team alone. Now I understood. Heck, I would have been
intimidated too. Fortunately, I didn’t know much about the
Titanic, so there was no shame in defeat facing me. But Bob
was different. He had personal expectations to live
I think the man was psyched
out. Bob was actually acting defeated ahead of time.
I watched in shock as Bob
did the unthinkable. He asked to be on their team. Bob
shrugged his shoulders to me with a frown. “If you can’t
beat them, join them.”
I took a quick glance at the
people assembling at the table. I knew these people. They
were very bright. One man, Richard, was a former lawyer and
9-11 Naval intelligence officer turned travel writer. In my
conversations with Richard, I had discovered him to be
unusually brilliant. I definitely could see why Bob was
To Bob’s dismay, his offer
to join the Dream Team was turned down. They already had
too many players. Chagrined, Bob slowly withdrew to another
part of the room. Like a puppy dog, I followed quietly
behind. Bob frowned and said to heck with it. He would
take them on all by himself. It was Bob against the World!!
The first question was how
many levels were on the Titanic. Bob said “7”. I could
tell by his body language he wasn’t sure about his answer.
His obvious lack of confidence threw me off.
“Seven” didn’t seem right to
me. I would have guessed “ten”. Fortunately I had the
sense to know I was out of my league. This was not my game
and there were sharks everywhere. Suddenly I felt out of
place. I sensed I would be of little help to Bob.
Meanwhile that Question and Answer session was going on in
another room. So I explained to Bob that I was leaving to
listen to some of the questions. I did not tell Bob this at
the time, but I was so unimpressed by his “7 levels” answer
that I assumed I was leaving a sinking ship. Bob
had met his iceberg. He was surely
going down faster than you can say “Titanic Disaster”.
Later on I saw Bob again. I
asked him how he did.
“I won,” Bob replied in a
matter of fact modest tone. I was incredulous. I had
clearly misjudged this man. Bob had gone up against a team
of five Titanic experts and whipped the whole bunch of them
Wow!! This was the best mass A-whupping since half-breed
indian Billy Jack kicked eight
bigoted rednecks into submission back in
I asked Bob if 7 levels was correct.
grinned. Yes, as a matter of fact,
his guess had
turned out to be right.
I asked Bob what the hardest
question was. He said one question asked how far the
Titanic had sailed before it sank. My mouth dropped open.
Oh, come on. No one could possibly know this answer unless
they had it memorized.
I had to ask. “Did you get
Bob looked crestfallen.
“No, but I came close.”
My eyes widened. “What do
“Well, no one knew the exact
answer, so they said they would give it to the person who
came the closest. I was off by only 200 miles, so I won the
“How did you do that?”
“Well, don’t forget I am a
geography teacher. I added the miles from Belfast to
Southampton to the miles from Southampton to Cherbourg, then
added the miles from Cherbourg to Halifax. So I estimated
3,500 miles. Then I subtracted 700 miles which is the
distance from Halifax to the site of the Titanic sinking to
“So what was the answer?”
This anecdote should give
the reader an appreciation of the kind of intelligence that
I saw displayed on a daily basis during the Titanic Memorial
Cruise. Yes, my friend Bob plays
in a league light years ahead of me… but he
said he wasn’t alone. He had
plenty of company.
Bob was modest enough to point out
anyone on that panel knew far more than he did. And among
the passengers, there
were several people
who could go toe to toe with Bob on
Titanic lore any time any day.
Bob smiled. "Rick, you have no
idea how many
very bright people are drawn to the Titanic story.
This is easily the most intriguing disaster story of all
How I Got Hooked
Six years ago, Marla and I
New England cruise trip
that departed from Boston. Although the ship
encountered several obstacles that drove me nuts,
the trip itself was phenomenal. We visited Boston,
Salem Village, Martha’s Vineyard, the White
Mountains of New Hampshire, the Bay of Fundy, and
Acadia National Park. These were all wonderful
places to visit.
highlight of that trip for me came when we visited
Halifax, Nova Scotia. Marla and I were delighted to
discover the most wonderful boardwalk right outside
Marla and I love to
walk, so this boardwalk along the
waterway was too inviting to pass up.
As Marla and I
strolled around this delightful city, we
eventually came across the
We looked at each other and
nodded. Let's go in!
We soon discovered that
Halifax has a long history with the sea to share. For
example, Halifax played a major role in shipping supplies to
England and to Europe during WW I and WW II.
However, at the time I had
no idea that Halifax had played a role in the Titanic
story. When I discovered the Titanic section of the museum,
I was instantly mesmerized. Everywhere I turned, there was
another story to read. I had no idea there were so many
compelling stories to learn about.
Then I saw a painting on
display that showed the water rushing down that famous
Titanic staircase to flood the main dining room.
The picture was so
compelling that I just stood there lost in thought staring
I remember thinking this
guy caught the horror of this moment
perfectly. Thanks to the picture, I instantly felt how
terrifying it had to be on the Titanic in these final
I know you get tired of
having me say the same thing over and over again, but
“Travel” opens worlds that I never even knew existed. Like everyone else, I was vaguely familiar with the
Titanic legends, but it was superficial. I knew the ship
improbably hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage and sank.
And of course I loved Cameron’s Titanic movie. But I
wasn’t touched so deeply by the movie that I took it any
It wasn’t until I visited
this museum that I finally “got it”. This time it really
As I read through the biographies of
common people like Alma Paulson, their lives truly came to
life for me. This poor woman lost four children!
Imagine the grief of her inability to protect them!
Paulson's story was just the
beginning. I read one pathetic story after another.
Finally I couldn't take it any more. I began to cry.
people suffered the most heart-wrenching, horrible
experience imaginable. Thanks to extreme negligence on the
part of the ship’s owners and captain, these
poor helpless people suffered painful, agonizing
Lots of people died needlessly
due to the limited number of lifeboats. The
senselessness of this mistake was difficult to accept.
Nor were the survivors spared.
They carried deep scars from the incident.
his or her
life would never be the same.
The specter of the tragedy followed them around like
a dark cloud for the rest of their lives.
In many cases, the
people saved by the lifeboats felt terrible
remorse because they had
lived while others died.
The faces of the dead haunted
remainder of their lives. They had met these
people and made friends with them.
survivors were forced to deal with
depression and despair thanks to
an inescapable sense of “survivor’s guilt”.
Here at this
the pictures and the
stories around them were what
turned me into a Titanic buff. So when the opportunity came
up to be the Ballroom instructors on this cruise, I did not
hesitate to offer my services. Marla
felt the same way. We accepted the offer on the spot.
To be honest, Marla and I signed up without bothering to
research the trip ahead of time. Once I finally took a
look at the itinerary,
delighted to see we would be returning to
Halifax. This was one city I definitely would like to
I did not know
who was going to be on the trip so
imagine my delight when I
discovered that none other than Ken Marschall was one of the
lecturers aboard our Memorial Cruise!
Ken Marschall published a highly acclaimed book of Titanic
illustrations in 1995.
paintings have been used in many books about the Titanic,
most notably his depictions of the sinking, of which no
During his lectures, I
learned that Mr. Marschall's
paintings were an inspiration to James Cameron.
After seeing the amazing book
of Titanic drawings, Cameron
asked Marschall to join his movie project. During the
filming of the Titanic, Marschall’s drawings became
reality when they used his pictures to design the sets.
It was a
thrill to listen to my hero talk about his experiences
filming Titanic. I became a regular Marschall groupie
during my trip.
Hey, this was the guy who got me hooked on the Titanic!
Until I listened to Marschall's
explanation of how the movie was made,
no idea the level of detail these two men had gone
into in order to make this movie
I came away thinking James
Cameron was a genius based on what Marschall said about him.
he has visited the Titanic grave site several times thanks
to his collaboration on Cameron's Ghosts of the Abyss.
In fact, Cameron
actually dedicated this film to Marschall by name during one
point in the Ghosts of the Abyss.
us laugh when he said Cameron decided to let him play the
important of J
Bruce Ismay, the so-called villain, in the Ghosts of the Abyss.
Although Ismay did not contribute directly to the accident,
his "Damn the Tuxedos, Full Speed Ahead" attitude is said to
be responsible for Captain Smith's reckless speed that
acted before, Marschall was flattered to be cast in this
important role. Expecting a
compliment, Marschall asked what made Cameron decide to pick
his eyes and said, "Ken, we need to wrap this up and you're the
only one with a moustache."
classic movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the outlaws were
doing their best to shake a determined posse that was dogging them.
and Sundance did everything they could think of to give the Bolivian
cops the slip, but it wasn't doing any good. They were still
Cassidy said, "Ah, you're wasting your time worrying, Sundance. They
can't track us over these rocks."
Sundance took one look and pointed at the men, "Tell them that!"
Butch Cassidy looked as well. He was shocked to see the Bolivian posse scurrying up
the slope after them. Sundance was right. Those cops were
right behind them! All their tricks to elude them had not
"Damn! They're beginning to get on my
nerves. Who are those guys?"
one of the best lines from the movie.
On the night before
our ship made its stop
at Halifax, Marla and I instantly agreed the museum would
be the first place we would visit.
On the morning of
our visit, we wasted no time.
Since we already knew where
the museum was located thanks to our
previous visit in 2006, the moment we left
the Azamara Journey, we
headed straight there. After a brisk 20 minute walk, we
found the museum.
When we entered
the museum, I didn’t see anyone else
from the cruise. I assumed we were the first
people from the ship to visit. Curious, I asked the lady at
the desk if she knew about the Titanic Memorial Cruise ship
docked in town.
She looked up in surprise.
“No kidding? I knew there was a cruise ship coming in at a
weird time of the year, but I didn’t know it was here for
the Titanic Centennial. What do you know about that? Maybe
we will have lots of visitors today!”
She grinned and handed
Marla and I wandered around
the first floor for a couple minutes, but then I decided I
couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to go upstairs to
re-connect to the source of my fascination with all things
The moment we found the
Titanic exhibit, I rushed over to view
Ken Marschall’s painting of the flooding
Grand Staircase again.
Then I turned to
look at the famous photograph of the Grand Staircase hanging next to
Marschall's picture. It could have been the Mona Lisa and I would not have stared
at it with any more reverence.
This picture is one of
the most enduring images of the Titanic because it captures the
splendor so completely. To stare at it conjures up images of
the beautiful women in their gowns as they made their triumphant
entrances walking down the staircase.
As I gazed in awe at the
picture, by chance a pretty young Canadian girl named Helen
walked by with a group of 3 tourists from Ottawa in tow.
Helen stopped nearby
and pointed to the same staircase picture I was looking at.
I quickly gathered that
a museum tour guide.
Now Helen began to talk about the fateful night aboard the
Titanic. Since they took no heed of me, I stuck around the
area and listened to
the conversation while I browsed the exhibit.
Helen was very familiar with the Titanic
story. I am sure she has told the
same story many times. From a discrete distance, I listened as she related
the events of the evening.
Now Helen reached the
exciting part about
the iceberg. Helen paused to build
the drama. She smiled at her guests. “Do
any of you know what time it was when the ship hit the
question. I immediately racked my
brains. 11 pm? Hmm.
By chance, four people from
the ship walked by at that exact moment
and overheard Helen's question.
Without a moment’s
hesitation, they all said as if on cue, “11:40 pm.”
kept on walking. The band of four quickly disappeared from sight as if they hadn’t really
been there at all.
like four ghosts from the Titanic had
appeared from nowhere. The look on her face was
priceless. Had she been visited by the supernatural?
The young girl took two
steps back as if someone had shoved her. She grew wide-eyed
with shock. Then she looked around the corner to see if
those four people were still around. Maybe this
been her imagination.
Finally Helen regained her
poise. Almost in a whisper, Helen confided to her three
guests, “No one has EVER gotten that answer right before!!”
I laughed at her
consternation. Watching Helen’s confusion was
That was my single favorite
moment of the entire trip.
Who are those guys?
The people who organized the Titanic
Memorial Trip did something that I thought was special.
They set out
a series of four 6 foot
that depicted the timeline of the series of events as they
Every time I
passed those four panels, I stopped and studied them.
Someone did a superb job of design.
those panels gave me an idea similar to the classic Orson
Welles radio replay of the War of the Worlds. Why not write out a
script of sorts based on that timeline and re-enact the
events as they unfolded via a mock radio broadcast?
"This just in.
We have reports that the RMS Titanic has suffered a terrible
accident at 11:40 pm. We are uncertain of the details,
so stay posted until we can learn further."
"It is now
Midnight at the site of the Titanic accident.
Apparently the ship has hit an iceberg. The ship appears to have
sustained damage. However, there is nothing to worry about.
The Titanic is unsinkable. Please stay tuned!""
"We have now
learned that Thomas Andrews, Harland and Wolff's managing
director, is on board. Mr. Andrews, a man who is
intimately acquainted with the Titanic's design, says the
ship is doomed. He gives it only a couple hours to
live. This is absolutely incredible. Many lives
are in danger!"
I think that
would have been intensely dramatic.
The truth of the matter is that
Titanic Memorial Cruise leaving from New York
attracted Titanic experts from all over
Canada and the USA. In fact, Titanic buffs
from all over the world came when you factor in
the booked-solid Balmoral sister ship that sailed from Southampton,
You can tease and
call them "Titanic Trekkies" if you wish, but there is one big
difference. While Trekkies have an over-abiding love affair
with fictional characters, the people whom the Titanic buffs love
and respect were real.
Over the years, many of
these people had
spent their entire lives studying the Titanic story from every
possible angle. In so doing, the passengers who lived and died
aboard the Titanic that night had become almost heroes to their
modern day fans. The Titanic enthusiasts had become so familiar
with these people that they couldn’t help but come on this trip to
show their profound respect.
If anyone ever understood just how
much the passengers on the Titanic suffered that night, our Memorial
passengers did. They had spent so many years sending their
imaginations back to April 14, 1912, that they had grown close to
everyone on board the doomed ship.
Throughout the week I got the sense
that the people on this ship were on board for one specific reason –
they had booked passage on this trip so they could pay their
respects to the Titanic passengers on the 100th anniversary of the
disaster. The talented
people of the Titanic Memorial Cruise would not have missed
this trip for the world. They were there to salute the lost ghosts of the abyss as well as the
souls of those tortured
passengers who survived only to be miserable for much of their
remaining time on Earth.
It was the strangest gravesite I have ever been
to. The sea was black. The sky was black. There was absolutely
nothing to see except a few stars and a dark ocean. The Titanic was supposed to
be down there two and a half miles below us, but we could have been
5 miles from Halifax for all I knew.
Our friends Simon and Rosie from Canada.
That's our sister ship Balmoral in the background
Marla and I were both on deck when the clock struck 2:20 am, the
exact moment the Titanic sank from view a hundred year's earlier.
The one thing I can say
about that moment is that it was cold... very cold.
I had no trouble
understanding the suffering of those people fighting for their lives
in those bitterly cold Atlantic waters.
to think of any decent way to express my sorrow, I simply whispered
"Rest in Peace".
What else really is there to say?
in large part to the organizers and the two thousand people who made
the trip, the world's media was able to come along. They brought
their cameras with them to allow the
entire planet to share in the Memorial ceremony. As I watched
them beaming signals back to the UK, the USA, and other spots, it was
nice to know people throughout the world could
participate as well.
is true that any troubled souls are still hanging around down there,
I am sure they would have been comforted to know the world
was watching. I think it is safe to say we will never forget them.
Now you know why I wrote this story.
After spending an entire week meditating on the most intense tragedy
of all time, I developed so much affinity with those people that I
had to add my own thoughts. I
can't make a movie, but I can at least share my respect.
you for reading. Rick Archer,
I have two follow-up articles if you wish to explore further.
of Titanic Sinking gives an overview of the
events of the night when the Titanic sank in 1912.
is a three-chapter series that explores all the famous disasters in
Part One covers all non-maritime disasters. It is fascinating
reading, but it is also morbid and depressing.
Part Two covers the famous maritime disasters.
Part Three discusses human weakness and its relationship to the
errors in judgment that caused the Titanic distaster.