Published: April 15th 2012
April 15th 2012
A scene from the top deck during the second half of the Titanic memorial service just a few hours ago. The ship in the background is the Balmoral's sister cruise ship that bought passengers from New York.
It's difficult to imagine what was going through the minds of people onboard the Titanic on that fateful night on April 14/15 exactly 100 years ago.
Sitting in my cabin at 11.40pm tonight as the Captain Robert Bamberg gave his address and announced the start of two minutes silence I visualised myself hearing the ship hit an iceberg and then experiencing the chaos that followed. I soon began to feel the horror of putting on my lifejacket, making my way though the corridor and pushing my way through crowds of people toward the lifeboats.
Yesterday the electricity failed for a just few seconds while I was in one of the ship’s lifts. That was long enough as I started to imagine being stuck in the lift while the ship was sinking. There’d be no way out.
It took a conscious effort to snap myself back to the present and focus on the purpose of the silence.
Passengers onboard the Balmoral tonight were divided into two groups for the first half of the memorial service starting at 1am. One group met in a restaurant; the other in a lounge. As Debbie, Damian, Don and I made our way
First half of the memorial service was held in a lounge (pictured) and a restaurant.
to the lounge, I again started imagining myself slipping below the surface of the freezing waters of the North Atlantic Ocean and was thankful we were instead going to a memorial service.
There are 1305 passengers onboard this ship, which is 198 less than the number of people who died in the Titanic disaster (1503). As we slowly filed out way out of the lounge, I imagined myself in the same slow and tedious line, not peacefully walking to towards the aft decks for the second half of the service, but desperately trying to get through the crowds to claim a seat in a lifeboat.
I wasn’t alone. Two men behind me were discussing what it would feel like to drown. One said it would be “dreadful” to breathe in water; the other said it would only take one breathe of water to drown but said the sensation would be euphoric. We all “breathed” fluid in our mothers’ wombs after all, he said. I preferred not to think about it and tuned them out to focus instead on the fruit tea being provided in commemorative mugs by staff as we filed through the doors.
As one of
Me, Damian & Debbie with the bouquet of commemorative flowers provided by the Australian Government on behalf of all Australians.
the last passengers to reach the aft decks, it was difficult to find even just a few centimetres of space through which I could take some photos. Eventually, on the highest deck, a generous woman from Minnesota moved aside for a few moments to allow me some space. Her husband was also imagining how passengers of the Titanic were feeling.
“Just think,” he said. They would have been out here like this, the water about 20 degrees colder and once the Titanic’s lights went out it would have been pitch black (on the moonless night).”
The warm fruit tea I was still sipping from the mug was even more welcome, and I again thought how lucky I was to be on the Balmoral, rugged up in a warm jacket, scarf and gloves, and not experiencing the tragedy of 100 years ago
I’m not a descendant or relative of the Titanic’s victims or survivors, just someone from the other side of the world who’s been touched by the stories of heroism, survival and tragedy … and ever so grateful that maritime laws have changed dramatically that travel by sea is now much safer.
To all those who
Me with the bouquet of commemorative flowers provided by the Australian Government on behalf of all Australians.
sailed on the Titanic, particularly those who died, you'll never be forgotten.
There are more photos below