105 Years Ago: #Titanic Cities Revisited #TuesdayTravels

Tuesday Travels
This week marks the 105th anniversary of the ill-fated voyage of RMS Titanic. When I went on my cruise around the British Isles in 2015, we visited at three of the Titanic cities: Belfast where the ship was built, Southampton where the voyage began, and Cobh/Queenstown where the ship made it’s final stop before meeting it’s fate.

Belfast now hosts the Titanic Visitor Centre at the location where the ship was built. The design of the museum reflects the bow of the ship, making it architecturally interesting. We could see it in the distance as our bus left the docks for the drive to Londonderry. If I ever make it back to Belfast for more than a day, I’d like to tour the centre.

Titanic visitor centre

Titanic visitor centre–©surangastock

The Titanic was launched from the Belfast docs on May 31, 1911, and towed to a fitting-out dock for interior construction. It was the largest passenger ship of its day, but as we know now, had some fatal defects. One was in the construction of the supposedly water-tight compartments that made the ship almost unsinkable, according to the White Star Line. Obviously they overestimated the efficacy of the design. The other fatal flaw came from the fact that the ship carried only enough lifeboats to accommodate 1/3 of the passengers and crew.

Titanic Memorial

The Titanic Engineers Memorial in Southampton, UK. The Titanic sank on it’s maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, April 15th 1912. 2012 marks the centenary of the event. –©rixipix

The plaque on the memorial reads:

15TH APRIL 1912.

Our 2015 cruise on the Royal Princess started from the English port of Southampton, as did the Titanic’s inaugural and only voyage. Passengers began boarding the Titanic on the morning of Wed. April 10th 1912. There were three classes of accommodations: First, Second and Third classes. The First Class cabins were full of wealthy and famous people, including John Jacob Astor IV and his young second wife, Isidor Straus (owner of Macy’s Department Store) and his wife, Benjamin Guggenheim and the famous Molly Brown of musical comedy fame.

That evening, Titanic docked briefly in Cherbourg, France to pick up more passengers. (Unlike a cruise where such a short stop would anger passengers eager to explore every possible port.) At 9PM Titanic sailed again for its final port stop.

City of Cobh, County Cork, Ireland

City of Cobh, County Cork, Ireland

On Thursday, April 12th, Titanic arrived in Queenstown (now Cobh) in what was then part of the United Kingdom, but is now the Republic of Ireland. Cobh was one of our port stops, and I found it a charming and picturesque city, despite the gray skies that greeted us.

Titanic Memorial at Cobh

Titanic Memorial at Cobh, Ireland

Reminders of the Titanic are numerous in the docks area of Cobh, despite the fact that the ship docked for only an hour and a half. The final group of doomed passengers boarded the ship that afternoon. I imagine most were never seen again, since they were unlikely to be among the wealthy in First Class.

RMS Titanic

the Titanic Passenger Liner on the afternoon of the fateful day it sank
@ CoreyFord

The Titanic’s passengers had two mostly uneventful days (unlike the James Cameron movie, which was full of drama) at sea. Then on April 14, at approximately 11:30PM, Titanic side swiped an iceberg and the unsinkable ship started to fill with water. The ship sank around 2:20AM on April 15, taking all but 705 of the souls on board down with it.

In the aftermath of the Titanic’s sinking, maritime laws changed, requiring passenger ships to carry enough lifeboats to accommodate everyone on board, changing the shipping lanes southward to avoid icebergs, and setting up the wireless distress call of SOS.

Side note: the wireless was a new, sexy technology, and the operators were kept busy sending personal message for the wealthy passengers. Later, wireless communications were reserved only for ship business, such as weather reports.

Even after more than a hundred years, the story of the Titanic continues to fascinate us. If you’re interested in more details, I recommend the extensive Wikipedia page on the Titanic and the book A Night To Remember by Walter Lord, which I reviewed on this blog. The book was written in the mid-1950s and much is based on the memories of some survivors.

The sinking of the Titanic is an epic human tragedy, a tale of greed, hubris and incompetence, cowardice and courage, and of love and sacrifice. No wonder it still fascinates after all this time.

Will you be watching the movie Titanic this week? I haven’t decided.



All Aboard Royal Princess #TuesdayTravels

Tuesday Travel button

At last I’m getting to the posts about our cruise on the Royal Princess around the British Isles.

We took taxis to Victoria Coach Station in London to pick up a bus to take us to Southampton. We weren’t the only ones. The area designated for the Princess Cruises passengers was mobbed, and the pile of luggage outside waiting to be loaded onto lorries was gargantuan. Wish I’d taken a picture of the rows of suitcases. Ah, well.

Ocean Terminal, Southampton

Ocean Terminal, Southampton (from bigstockphoto.com)

After a couple of hours on the coach, we arrived at the Ocean Terminal in Southampton, one of Britain’s main ports. The Titanic sailed from here on its ill-fated maiden journey in 1912. The size of today’s cruise ships dwarfs the Titanic by quite a bit. Our ship holds nearly 4,000 passengers, while the Titanic accomodated 2,453 passengers plus hundreds of crew members, a very large ship for its time.

Emerald Princess balconies

Emerald Princess cruise ship (bigstockphoto.com)


Our lovely spacious cabin (my photo)


The veranda outside our cabin.

Linda and I were very pleased with our spacious cabin. It had lots of storage space, so we were able to unpack completely and stash all but one very large suitcase under the beds. The room had a refrigerator, hairdryer, and satellite TV with on demand movies. We watched several during the cruise–Cinderella, The Rewrite, The Woman in Gold and The Theory of Everything–as well as videos about our destinations and lectures about the various ports of call. Our cabin was so comfortable, we spent a lot of time there. We only made it down to the Princess Theater for one show and one port of call lecture.

We spent a fair bit of time on the veranda enjoying the ocean air.

The first photo taken on my new camera shows two happy cruisers.

Linda & Linda

Two happy cruisers named Linda. I’m the one in blue.

The center of the ship is a huge, beautiful, open atrium called the Piazza.


The glorious piazza of the Royal Princess cruise ship


A graceful staircase in the piazza of the Royal Princess

There are a number of shops and lounges around the Piazza, and throughout the day there is usually something going on there, a class or some kind of entertainment. It’s also where they pour a champagne fountain on the night of the Captain’s Dinner. I love the spiral staircases.

The Horizon Bistro Court, i.e. the buffet, is on the Lido deck, and that’s where we had most of our meals. The dessert bar was amazing, and the desserts were irresistible! I was a little hesitant to get on the scale when I got home, but happy to discover that I’d only gained two pounds on the trip.


Royal Princess Skywalk

The Skywalk (right) is also on the Lido Deck, and walking across it is just a little disorienting as the ship is moving. Better not to look down, I think, to the rolling waves below. I only did that once.

This was my first time cruising on such a large ship and I had a blast. I’d do it again. Have you taken a cruise? If so, where did you go? I’m looking for recommendations. Alaska, maybe? Or somewhere exotic like South America.