Scenes commemorating the moments before the Titanic sank in the North Atlantic a hundred years ago, barely four days into its maiden voyage, were re-enacted on Sunday on a cruise which is retracing the ill-fated liner's route right up to New York city, its intended destination, as a number of special events were held on both sides of the Atlantic to mark the centenary of one of the world's worst sea disasters.
The exact moment of the tragedy — the midnight of April-14-15, 1912 (the ship's clock stopped at 23.40) — was remembered with passengers aboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise, MS Balmoral, observing a minute's silence and casting wreaths into the sea on the spot where the Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg.
Names of all the 1,500 people who died in the Titanic disaster were read out. For the victims' relatives, it was an emotional moment.
Jane Allen whose great-uncle, Thomas Pears, died that night said it “must have been horrendous” when the ship went down.
“When you look down over the side of the ship and you realise that every man and woman who was not fortunate enough to get into a lifeboat had to make that decision of when to jump or to stay with the ship, until the lights went out. And when the lights went out it must have been horrendous. We witnessed that tonight,” she told the BBC.
A passenger whose relative, a crew member, survived, said: “You still get a chill just looking at that water, imagining you have to go into it.”
The memorial cruise carrying 1,309 passengers — exactly the same number as were on the ill-fated Titanic — sailed from Southampton Port on April 9 marking the moment of the Titanic's departure from the same port a hundred years ago. Passengers from 20 countries who have paid up to £6,000 each depending on the class in which they are travelling ate from a “Titanic menu”.
Another cruise ship, Azamara Journey, travelling from New York, also held a service at the site of the disaster, 640 km off the coast of Newfoundland.
In Belfast, where the Titanic was built, a plaque featuring the names of every single victim of the disaster was unveiled in the Titanic Memorial Garden. People started queuing up since early morning to see the plaque. Many attended a service in the City Hall.
Una Reilly, head of the local Titanic Society, said: “We are all proud of this ship. What happened was a disaster, she was not.”
Memorial services were also held in Southampton and other parts of the United Kingdom.