Northern Ireland

Titanic memorial cruise ship MS Balmoral at wreck site

MS Balmoral
Image caption MS Balmoral is due to reach the spot where the Titanic sank on Sunday

After the rush of excitement that marked the beginning of this journey into the Atlantic, there is a growing sense of calm.

Even the rough seas that could have delayed the MS Balmoral's arrival at the spot where the Titanic sank, have gone.

On board, people gather in small groups. Some show each other items of Titanic mementoes and memorabilia. Others discuss what they think it will be like to be directly above that famous ship's wreckage.

After days at sea, the memorial service that will be held there is finally nearing.

Many of the passengers booked this unusual cruise years ago and they have been waiting for this moment ever since.


"Although it happened 100 years ago the grief is still so very raw for so many people," says Reverend Huw Mosford, who will be leading the service.

"I hope the service won't be ghoulish, I hope it will be one that's uplifting."

Three wreaths have now been prepared, put together by a florist in one of the ship's cabins.

They will be thrown into the waters to mark exactly 100 years since the sinking - a tribute to those who drowned.

Those on board with relatives who travelled on the Titanic have already come together for a private meeting.

Some hoped to learn a little more about their ancestors and make connections between what one woman described as the "Titanic cousins".

Image caption Some people have dressed in period costume during the trip on the Balmoral

The importance of history is obvious throughout the ship.

The kitchens have even faithfully recreated the menus served on the seas in April 1912.

Passengers of the Balmoral dressed in formal wear and period costume to enjoy an updated version of the Titanic's final meal.


Among the seven courses were quail eggs in aspic with caviar, Calvados-glazed roast duckling and Filet mignons lili.

There has been painstaking research by the ship's executive chef to try to ensure the authenticity of the recipes, although she admits that she has made some of the food "a little more fancy".

Through the restaurant's windows you can see nothing but sea - the Atlantic stretches out in every direction.

It is a reminder of just how isolated those who died must have felt as the Titanic slipped under the water.

The inquiries into the disaster determined that the ship struck an iceberg at approximately 23:40 "ship's time" on 14th April - and sank two hours 40 minutes later.

In 1912 "ship's time" was determined by predicting when the sun would be at its highest point and making that moment midday. On some vessels the clocks were constantly updated.

It is an outdated practice but to ensure that the memorial is held at exactly the right time, the Balmoral's clocks have been put back to four hours and 27 minutes before BST.

That means the ship is now effectively on Titanic time.

When its clocks reach 02:20, for a moment in the darkness, this ship will fall silent in remembrance.

It will be a moment to reflect on the fear and panic felt by passengers a century before.

From 06:00 BST on 15 April there will be live coverage of the Titanic commemorations on our Titanic live web page and from 06:20 BST on BBC Two NI and Radio Ulster. There will also be coverage on BBC Breakfast and on the BBC News Channel.

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