Rocking and Rolling on the Titanic Memorial Cruise
By Chris Helgren
In what resembles a Trekkie convention gone through a time portal, hundreds of passengers on the Titanic Memorial Cruise, retracing the Titanic’s voyage from Southampton 100 years later, now divide their time between promenading in the latest fashions of 100 years ago and debating the true color of Titanic’s funnels. Yellow, but what kind of yellow? Model maker Kenneth Mascarenhas and painter James Allen Flood don’t see eye to eye on the subject, and it’s suggested that fellow passenger Commodore Warwick should adjudicate the issue. After all, he saw the Titanic wreck in a submersible. However, Mascarenhas fails to take into account that the ship is now rusted through and covered with Oceanic mud, its funnels probably covered in barnacles.
Actually, there are plenty of things to do on board the MS Balmoral. I missed the “fluid retention and swollen ankles seminar” on Monday, but there’s been a parade of Titanic experts on show to fill us in on everything one would want to know (except the color of funnels). Sadly, due to the inclement weather, shuffleboard has been cancelled the last two days. As has a dance show, due to health and safety concerns. Many of my fellow passengers have been sighted hunched over, unable to promenade, green with seasickness.
The big drama yesterday was the helicopter evacuation of a BBC cameraman. Tour operator Miles Morgan said that the ship would swing back 20 nautical miles towards Ireland, within range of an Irish Coast Guard chopper. The ailing man was whisked upwards in a sling and we returned on our course, hopefully not late for our anniversary date. Captain Robert Bamberg assured everyone that would be the case if we continued at a speed of 15 knots.
Bamberg’s crew is certainly health conscious. Everywhere one goes, attendants hold out bottles to squirt a dollop of disinfectant goo into your hands. There was a Captain’s Welcome cocktail party last night at the Neptune Lounge, and Bamberg wrote that he was “very pleased to greet all of you, however, he and the other staff receiving you shall refrain from shaking hands. This is in order to provide the most effective sanitary measures”. So the guests, all dolled up in their Edwardian gowns and tuxedos, entered past the ship’s officers while rubbing the goo through their fingers. As a footnote, when I shook the hand of the Pope during my tenure in Rome, I thought at the time his hands were rather clammy. Maybe it was just disinfectant.
(View a slideshow from the Titanic memorial cruise here)