13 – 14 April 2012

“Lots of people have put in their letters how they would love to be seeing all the beautiful places I am seeing, but I tell them to stop at home or else invent a floating palace which doesn’t roll and can’t possibly sink.”

Balmoral portal view, morning 14 April 2012

So wrote a young man who would one day be Sixth Officer of the RMS Titanic. While the Balmoral is certainly palatial in some of her appointments, we’ve also started to “roll” again now that the wind and seas have picked up. The waves were crashing against our waterline cabin portals through the night and into this morning.
In spite of this, yesterday, Friday April 13, was possibly the most comfortable and enjoyable day yet as everyone settles into the voyage. The date caused the more superstitious (and at sea, that ratio of that part of the population tends to increase) pause for thought. When the power went out during a talk by Titanic historians Jack Eaton and Charles Haas on the subject of Titanic “Mythellany”, there was more than one nervous titter in the audience when they joked about the date.
The sun was on the decks, though, and in spite of the wind it was possible to take a turn around them with fairly light clothing and a warm jacket, something of which many passengers took advantage. A few hardy souls even took to the pool on the Lido deck.

Decks of the Balmoral, April 13

I took sunset cocktails up in the observatory lounge, where the marvellous Grupetto Band were playing ragtime tunes – just as would have been heard in 1912.
Last night was the formal Titanic dinner, as seven courses from the original Titanic menus were served up. The ship’s food has been uniformly excellent – as evidenced by head chef Sara Sipek earning as big a round of applause as the Captain Bamburg during the cocktail reception last night when the crew were introduced to the passengers. This surpassed all previous performances, as we finally discovered just what quail eggs in aspic tasted like.
Equalling the food was the company at our table, where we alternated between quoting Titanic passengers like Charles Hayes and W T Stead on the perils of ocean travel with what can only be described as an Alan Hustak – Senan Molony floor show that had us – and a few surrounding tables –  helpless with laughter. I believe that there was a tentative arrangement to duel sometime in the next few days over lost shirt studs and the quality of cufflinks worn. Not to mention a stray fake moustache that took on a life and character of its own.
Passengers wore remarkable clothes – some very accurate period reproductions, some showing more verve than accuracy. I felt quite démodé in my 1905 lace jacket (the piece of antique clothing I felt was sturdy enough to make the journey) – fully seven years out of fashion, although after I discarded my Paul Poiret tribute turban and just wore my usual 1920s bob I was much more fashion forward.
I was introduced over dinner to Cmdre Warwick, Captain of the Cunarders Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Mary II. It is always flattering, particularly to a newly published author, when someone takes an interest in their writing, but you can imagine my delight when I found that someone of Cmdre Warwick’s experience had bought Titanic Valour before sailing and had expressed a wish to be introduced to the author. I had a very pleasant chat about researching Titanicofficers with him, as he mentioned in his lecture two days ago some very important newly released White Star Line records that have just come on-line.

Quail eggs in aspic, as served on the Titanic

Anticipation about this evening’s service is building, and the orders for this evening’s service will be placed in our cabins this morning. We’ve also had notice that, due to the large amount of traffic on the site, those on board are reminded of the environmental sensitivities of the area and are requested not to throw their own tributes into the sea. The Balmoral will be placing biodegradable wreaths approved by the International Maritime Organisation, which monitors the area.