24 Titanic 2012
Home Up Titanic Timeline Famous Disasters

 2012 Titanic Memorial Cruise Story of Titanic Sinking Disaster Story 1 Disaster Story 2 Disaster Story 3


Rick and Marla's Adventure
on the Titanic Memorial Cruise

Story Written by Rick Archer
April 26, 2012


Rick's Note: 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. 

This 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 trip?"

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. 

The trip 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 two stories.  One is a look at the serious side of the Titanic disaster.  However, 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 is a 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 shots

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 that 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 seeing 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 as well. 


There were nights when I was so surrounded by so many Edwardian costumes at dinner that I could easily picture myself being back on the Titanic itself. 

I have to hand it to the people on this trip who went all out to recreate the vision of the past. 

Thanks to them, it didn't take much imagination to visualize the magnificent splendor of the Titanic.


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 indeed.

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 good answer.

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 plus 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 Grade.

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

Instead 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 could rest.  

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 upcoming 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 Experts
Oh, be still my beating heart!

The TITANIC Q & A panel. Mrs Kirk Pope (daughter of a TITANIC survivor), Gunther Babler, Ken Marschall (TITANIC artist and historian),
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 failed?”
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 Atlantic?”
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?”

Oh well.  I missed the boat on this one.  Obviously, I 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 at Trivia.

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 up to.

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 worried.

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 singlehanded. 

Wow!!  This was the best mass A-whupping since half-breed indian Billy Jack kicked eight bigoted rednecks into submission back in the movie.


I asked Bob if 7 levels was correct. 

Bob 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 it right?”

Bob looked crestfallen.  “No, but I came close.” 

My eyes widened.  “What do you mean?”

“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 question.” 

“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 get 2,800.”

“So what was the answer?”

“2,590 miles.”


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 time."


How I Got Hooked

Six years ago, Marla and I took a 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. 

However the 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 our ship. 

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 Maritime Museum. 

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 at it.

I remember thinking this Ken Marschall 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 moments.

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 further. 

It wasn’t until I visited this museum that I finally “got it”.  This time it really sank in.  

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.

These 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 deaths. 

Lots of people died needlessly due to the limited number of lifeboats.  The utter senselessness of this mistake was difficult to accept.

Nor were the survivors spared.  They carried deep scars from the incident.

Even if someone survived, 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 them for the remainder of their lives.  They had met these people and made friends with them.

The survivors were forced to deal with ongoing depression and despair thanks to an inescapable sense of “survivor’s guilt”.

Here at this Titanic museum, 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,
I was delighted to see we would be returning to Halifax.  This was one city I definitely would like to visit again.

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.  His paintings have been used in many books about the Titanic, most notably his depictions of the sinking, of which no photographs exist.

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, I had no idea the level of detail these two men had gone into in order to make this movie so realistic.

I came away thinking James Cameron was a genius based on what Marschall said about him.

Marschall said 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

Marschall made 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 night.

Having never acted before, Marschall was flattered to be cast in this important role.  Expecting a compliment, Marschall asked what made Cameron decide to pick him.

Cameron rolled his eyes and said, "Ken, we need to wrap this up and you're the only one with a moustache."

Who Are Those Guys?

In the classic movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the outlaws were doing their best to shake a determined posse that was dogging them.

Butch 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 being followed.

Butch 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!"

Now 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 worked.

"Damn! They're beginning to get on my nerves.  Who are those guys?"

It was 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 cruiseI 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 us our the tickets. 

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 Titanic. 

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 Helen was 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.

Naturally 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 iceberg?”

Good 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.” 

And they kept on walking. The band of four quickly disappeared from sight as if they hadn’t really been there at all.

Helen gasped 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 had just 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 wonderful entertainment. 

That was my single favorite moment of the entire trip.

Who are those guys? 


Timeline to Disaster

The people who organized the Titanic Memorial Trip did something that I thought was special.
They set out a series of four 6 foot panels that depicted the timeline of the series of events as they unfolded. 

Every time I passed those four panels, I stopped and studied them.  Someone did a superb job of design.

Reading 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. 

Voices of the Titanic

One day after the four Timeline panels appeared, 13 biography panels appeared. I photographed each of them.  Over the course of the next few days, I would read these biographies again and again. 

These biographies were fairly brilliant. They reminded me of similar biographies I had seen at the Titanic Museum in Halifax.  The more I became familiar with these stories, the more I realized I was beginning to identify with these people as if I knew them. 

Slowly but surely I came to understand why Bob referred to people like "Thayer" or "Ryerson" or "Peuchen" as if he knew them personally.  In a sense, Bob really did.  Over the past 100 years, some of the key players that night had become celebrities in their own right.

The truth of the matter is that our 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, UK.  

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. 

Unable to think of any decent way to express my sorrow, I simply whispered "Rest in Peace". 

What else really is there to say?

Thanks 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.

If it 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. 

Thank you for reading.  Rick Archer, April 2012


Rick's Note:  I have two follow-up articles if you wish to explore further.

Story of Titanic Sinking gives an overview of the events of the night when the Titanic sank in 1912.
Titanic Disaster is a three-chapter series that explores all the famous disasters in history.
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.

 2012 Titanic Memorial Cruise Story of Titanic Sinking Disaster Story 1 Disaster Story 2 Disaster Story 3
SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
SSQQ Archive Newsletter History of SSQQ