As we sail on, shipboard routine starts to develop familiar patterns. There are a great number of activities on board, from watercolour painting to selections of West End Musical performances, in addition to the Titanic related program. Every day new banners go up telling more stories about those who sailed in 1912, and in addition to the excellent speakers there are “Interest Corners” – yesterday one was hosted by David Haisman, author and son of Titanicsurvivor Edith Haisman. All are well attended, and as each talk ends there are many people lining up to have a word or obtain a signature for their books – requests that the speakers are gracious about.
The mood on board is a curious one – people are very conscious of being a part of a very high profile event, and there are high spirits all around. Last night we were dancing on the Observatory deck until about 2.00 am and thoroughly enjoyed an afternoon/evening entertainment program. And yet at every turn there are conversations about the Titanic, and moments where one looks outside or does a turn of the deck and the ceaselessly rolling seas are a very stark reminder that we are in the middle of the ocean. Our captain’s noonday announcement has just been broadcast, and he confirms we are at the approximate halfway point between continents. The solemnity of the events of 100 years ago are always there, and it takes very little to remind the passengers on board that while this is a well appointed cruise with entertainment, good food and a great deal of comfort, the event it commemorates is a starkly tragic one. One only has to listen to the music of the wonderful Grupetto Band, playing selections of classical and light opera that would have been familiar to the passenger of the Titanic, to be transported in imagination to Wallace Hartley and the men of the Titanic’s orchestra. The effect is enhanced by their uniforms – the same as those worn by the Titanic’s musicians.
Fortunately those seas are not rolling as much as they were, and people in general are less green about the gills. I was startled, however, to notice yesterday that one of the windows in the Observatory Lounge has been broken, completely crackled all its considerable length. And while still intact in the window frame, it’s a reminder of the deep pitched, shuddering rolls of the last few days. Still, we’ve dropped down from Force 8 to Force 3 winds, and the porthole covers are now off the portals in our cabin. Last night I gazed out to see a perfectly framed bright half moon, and the ship’s wash sliding past, illuminated by the Balmoral’s well-lit decks.