The acclaimed RMS Titanic proudly sailed on its maiden voyage from Southampton in April 1912 with 2,228 passengers and crew onboard. Flaunting the fact that it was “unsinkable”, it never reached its destination in New York.
Films have been made and countless books and biographies have been written about this tragedy that gripped the world’s imagination. Those places most closely associated with the sinking of the Titanic now make fascinating places to visit, capturing a moment frozen in history.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
The Titanic was nearing the end of its maiden voyage when it entered the icy waters off Newfoundland, hit a huge iceberg and sank with the loss of 1,517 lives. Halifax was the closest major port and eventually the recovered wreckage and bodies were brought ashore there.
A century later, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on Halifax waterfront has an excellent permanent display entitled “Titanic, the Unsinkable Ship”. It has the largest collection of artifacts including a perfectly preserved deckchair and the touching sight of a pair of children’s shoes.
The Cable Ship Exhibit describes the role cable ships played in the Titanic recovery operation, with diaries of crewmen giving a first-hand account of the disaster. There is also a “lifeboat view” of the sinking. During 2012, a photographic exhibition and original records will be on show to retell the tale.
There are three cemeteries in Halifax with Titanic connections: Fairview Lawn Cemetery, which offers guided tours, Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery and the Baron de Hirsch Jewish Cemetery. A Grand Parade will take place on April 14, starting from the Maritime Museum.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the Bedford Institute for Oceanography in Halifax which includes a model showing what the Titanic looks like today, lying on the ocean floor.
Other sites of interest include the home of Halifax millionaire, George Wright, who perished in the sinking. His grand Edwardian mansion can be seen on Young Avenue. The Five Fishermen restaurant now occupies the building of the John Snow and Co. funeral home where some of the wealthier victims were prepared for burial.
Cape Race, Newfoundland
The Marconi Radio Station at Cape Race was where the wireless operator, Jack Goodwin, took the distress call from the Titanic, and other ship-to-shore communications between vessels in the area. The Cape Race Receiving Titanic Commemoration will recreate the events at sea as told through the wireless communications.
St John’s, Newfoundland
The Centre for Marine Simulation in historic St John’s will host a virtual recreation of the Titanic sinking as told from the ship’s bridge, and the Johnson Geo Centre has a permanent exhibit analyzing why the tragedy occurred. The Rooms Provincial Museum has a collection of artifacts and documents on permanent display.
The opulent Ryan Mansion has a sweeping grand staircase that was built by the same Irish craftsmen as they simultaneously created the grand staircase for the luxury liner. Now a historic hotel, it offers six-course Titanic dinners recreating the last menu enjoyed aboard the luxury liner, served on replica china used in the first class dining salon.
Two Titanic Memorial Cruises will sail between Southampton and New York and, as part of the tribute, will dock in Halifax in Nova Scotia. Those aboard will include descendants of the original passengers, Titanic enthusiasts, historians and cruise passengers wanting to be part of this historical anniversary.
As part of the trip, a special Service of Memorial will be held at the exact time the Titanic sank 100 years before. The onboard experience will also include lectures from renowned historians, the opportunity to wear period costume, a selection of food and drinks served aboard the Titanic and visits to the cemeteries in Halifax.
A 5-night mini cruise will also sail from Southampton, calling in at Liverpool which was the home of the White Star Line head office and where many of the Titanic crew and officers came from. The cruise will then visit Belfast where the Titanic was built.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Newly opened, the Titanic Experience in Belfast has nine galleries, reconstructions and exhibits telling of the building of the RMS Titanic. The story begins with her inception in the early 1900s, and follows the construction and launch in May 1911 when 100,000 people turned out to watch. It also recaptures the infamous maiden voyage and concludes with the discovery of the wreck in 1985, four kilometres below sea level. This excellent attraction concludes with an interactive experience in the live undersea Exploration Centre.
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