Exactly 100 years ago today, Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic, at 20 minutes to midnight on April 14, 1912.
Within less than three hours the biggest liner of its day had sunk, with the loss of 1,503 passengers and crew.
And yet fascination with the glamour associated with the ship’s maiden – and only – voyage, and more particularly the 1997 film starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo diCaprio, has probably sold more cruises than any fancy advertising campaign.
This week’s Titanic memorial cruises aboard Balmoral which left Southampton and Azamara Journey from New York have been condemned by some as mawkish, but seen by others – including descendants of victims and survivors – as an opportunity to dress up in Edwardian clothes and eat from original menus.
The one cloud on the horizon is a modern-day cruise ship called Costa Concordia. If that vessel had not run aground in January, with the loss of 32 lives, our television screens would have been showing experts prepared to declare that it could never happen again. Instead, there are sensationalised documentaries with titles such as “Disasters at Sea: Why Ships Sink.”
David Dingle, chief executive of Carnival UK and spokesman for the Passenger Shipping Association and the European Cruise Council, describes the programme as “insulting”.
“It overlooked the fact that the Titanic disaster was the trigger for the creation for the International Convention for the Safety of Lives at Sea
“I’ve not seen quoted anywhere the fact that in the 10 years before Concordia there were 223 million cruise voyages taken and the loss of life was six passengers and 22 crew. Had it not been for Concordia, we would have been celebrating; instead, a lot of questions are being asked.”
It’s unlikely that the memory of Titanic and her victims will be allowed to fade from memory after this week.