Some of you may not be aware but this April marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster. On 15 April 1912, the passenger liner struck an iceberg in the north Atlantic Ocean on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City and sank, resulting in the deaths of more than 1500 people. Although numerous events have been planned to remember the tragedy, including the re-release of the 1997 James Cameron film Titanic in 3-D, nothing seems as crass or exploitative as that of the Titanic Memorial Cruise.
The Titanic Memorial Cruise will be retracing the route of the original ship. Although it will set sail two days earlier than the original ship, leaving Southampton, England on April 8 as opposed to April 10, it will pass by Cherbourg, France where on the maiden voyage it picked up passengers before heading west. It will dock in Cobh, Ireland which was the Titanic’s last port of call before heading to New York. During the four days at sea, passengers will be treated to talks and demonstrations related to the Titanic’s history as well as amusing themselves with standard cruise entertainment and relaxation. On 15 April a memorial service will be held on the Titanic site at the exact time the ship went under. The other port of call is Halifax, Canada where recovery efforts were manned from and where also many unidentified bodies were ultimately buried. The sailing ends in New York City, where the Titanic should have successfully completed her maiden voyage.
The cruise is sold out, although spots remain on the Titanic Anniversary Cruise, which sails from New York City and stops in Halifax and the site of the sinking. The anniversary cruise is four nights less than the memorial one, with for interior cabins starting around $4K (USD) and going up to $14,850 for the Club World Owners Suite. One can only imagine the prices for the memorial cruise. Clearly, the individuals sailing on the memorial and anniversary cruises are those with money to burn, as well as the non-astronauts who one day will travel to space.
Although the last survivor of the Titanic died in 2009 (Millvina Dean was just two months old when the ship went down), there are still individuals today whose relatives died on the ship. My great-grandmother sailed to America from Antwerp, Belgium only two months before the Titanic. She came to the United States on the SS Finland, which like the Titanic, was an ocean passenger liner. She could have just as easily been a third class passenger on the Titanic as she was on the SS Finland. I am all for remembering and preserving history, but not at the expense of exploiting those lives that were lost at sea and that is what I regard the memorial and anniversary cruises as, an exploitation of the dead. Of the 79 children traveling in third class on the Titanic, 56 of them died. Although the cruises obviously piqued the interest in some individuals, I hope, however, that this form of tourism is not on the rise. I would hate to see Miles Morgan Travel, the British company behind the Titanic cruises, offering a recreation of the Lusitania sailing in 2015; let’s surely hope not.