Sailing Through History

A modern-day cruise ship retraces the route of the Titanic, the “unsinkable” ship that hit an iceberg 100 years ago—and disappeared beneath the sea

Apr 09, 2012 | By Anna Prokos
CHRIS ISON—PA/AP

A group of 1,309 passengers boarded the MS Balmoral on Sunday, in Southampton, England, on a voyage to retrace the path of the Titanic. The Titanic was the biggest ship in the world when it sailed on its ill-fated maiden voyage in 1912. Of the 2,227 passengers and crew aboard, more than 1,500 died. The ship, which was headed to New York City, carried the rich and famous on its first voyage. It also carried immigrants, who were seeking a better life in America.

Relatives of people who sailed on the Titanic, historians, authors and people fascinated by the story of the unsinkable ship, are on the Balmoral. They want to remember the doomed ship and those who died on her first and last voyage. The historic liner had set sail on April 10, 1912, from Southampton. Late at night on April 14, she hit an iceberg. In the early morning hours of April 15, the Titanic sank.

The Titanic was called the "unsinkable" ship. But on April 14, 1912, after the crew ignored warnings, the vessel struck an iceberg. The impact tore a hole in the ship, causing it to fill with water, break apart and sink into the North Atlantic Ocean.
PA/AP
The Titanic was called the "unsinkable" ship. But on April 14, 1912, after the crew ignored warnings, the vessel struck an iceberg. The impact tore a hole in the ship, causing it to fill with water, break apart and sink into the North Atlantic Ocean.

Follow the Route

The Balmoral is following Titanic’s original route from Southampton. First, the modern-day cruise liner docked in the port of Cherbourg, France, where the Titanic had picked up more passengers. On Monday afternoon, the Balmoral stops in Cobh, Ireland, the Titanic’s last port of call before sailing to New York.

Balmoral will then cruise the North Atlantic Ocean to the location where Titanic hit an iceberg that ripped the ship’s hull. On Sunday, April 15, at 2:20 a.m.—the time the Titanic went down—passengers and crew will hold a memorial service. The next two days will be spent in Halifax, Canada, where many victims of the sinking are buried. Then, the Balmoral will reach its final destination in New York City, where Titanic was supposed to dock—but never did.

Titanic Today

Today, the 882-foot-long ship lies in pieces more than 12,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. Several teams of divers have explored the site. They have recovered some items such as dishes and silverware and put them on public display. And more trips are planned to the wreckage in the future.

The Titanic and its passengers and crew have been remembered in books, movies and TV programs. But there’s a much more important contribution that Titanic gave us. After she sank, lawmakers and shipbuilders made ships safer. It took a terrible tragedy to make ship travel safer for all.