There is little doubt that we are all going to be engulfed with Titanic fever over the next few months, as the centenary of the liner’s sinking approaches.
Memorial cruises, films and exhibitions are all being prepared for the great event which will capture our attention before the arrival of distractions such as The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics.
Director James Cameron has had 300 production artists working for more than a year on converting his 1997 film into 3D ready for re-release on April 6 – at an estimated cost of £12 million.
I still have difficulty getting over the fact that when I was in Halifax, Nova Scotia on board Sea Princess a few years ago, the epic was beaming out from the Movies Under the Stars screen almost within sight of the Fairview Cemetery where 121 victims lie buried. But it surely won’t be long before the new version is being screened in the 3D cinemas on board Queen Mary 2 and perhaps even Allure of the Seas, and you wouldn’t want to bet against Celine Dion being back in the charts this year with theme song My Heart Will Go On. .
Back home, Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has written his own version of the story, this time concentrating not on the super-rich above-stairs passengers which Kate Winslet represented in the movie, or the third class Leonardo diCaprio types who would have been lucky to get a job in the Abbey’s gardens, but those he describes as the “forgotten” second class travellers. “We wanted to present a rounded version of life aboard ship and emphasise its parallel with the life being lived on dry land at that time,” he says.
Follow this link to watch a trailer for the four-part mini-series, to be broadcast on ITV and featuring Linus Roache, Celia Imrie, Toby Jones, Geraldine Somerville and Timothy West.
The memorial cruises are spearheaded by the sold-out Balmoral, chartered from Fred Olsen by the enterprising Miles Morgan Travel to sail from Southampton to New York. Saga Pearl II has a 10-night Titanic Remembered voyage visiting ports connected with the liner – with fares from £1,666 – and Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Marco Polo will be sailing a seven-night Maritime Heritage Cruise from Tilbury (fares from £499).
A fourth ship, Azamara Journey, will rendezvous with Balmoral at the wreck site during an eight-night cruise from New York which also calls at Halifax.
Preparations are well in hand for a huge event to mark the opening of the £90 million Titanic Belfast exhibition centre at the end of March, and there’s likely to be lots of other ways to mark the anniversary.
While some critics have suggested the memorial cruises themselves might not be in the best possible taste, the most outrageous item I have so far discovered is this ridiculous “Gin and Titonic” ice cube tray “guaranteed to be an unsinkable addition to your next party . . . just add gin, some friends, maybe a sea captain, and let the fun begin” says the blurb. It’s almost enough to make me choke on a slice of lemon, but there may be worse out there; let me know if you see anything.