Ohioan among passengers retracing Titanic’s routeWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
At 2:20 a.m. April 15, Ohioan Todd Howell will be standing directly over the spot where, exactly a century earlier, Titanic foundered before slipping beneath the water’s surface, killing more than 1,500 of those aboard.
“Being over the wreck site could be somewhat eerie,” Howell said. “You think of the North Atlantic as being very rough and choppy, but they described that night as the seas being very calm. If the seas are calm, wow, that’s going to be a little eerie. I just expect it to be a solemn remembrance and am looking forward to completing the trip.”
The Columbus-area artifact collector and amateur historian is one of 1,309 passengers — the same number of passengers booked on Titanic — from more than two dozen countries participating in a 12-night memorial cruise retracing Titanic’s journey from Southampton, England, to New York City.
The trip was already fully booked several years ago when Howell, who works as chief financial officer at Seneca Medical Inc., in Tiffin, inquired. He was placed on a waiting list and jumped at the chance when a spot opened up.
“I’m viewing this as a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Howell said. “I’m not sure which part I’m not looking forward to. Just being there firsthand — not reading about it, but experiencing it and talking to these family members and historians. It will be a very unique experience.”
Among those on board will be relatives of Titanic victims and survivors as well as authors, historians and other experts who will speak as part of an on-board lecture series.
One of the lecturers will be author Philip Littlejohn, the only relative of a Titanic survivor to have dived to the wreck site. Littlejohn’s grandfather, first-class steward Alexander James Littlejohn, survived, rowing the lifeboat that carried 9-week-old Millvina Dean, Titanic’s youngest passenger.
Passengers will also include a woman who wants to drop a flower at the spot her great-grandfather died, a woman whose great-grandfather had tickets for Titanic but did not board, a woman whose relative died while his wife survived in a lifeboat and a man whose grandfather helped build Titanic, according to the website of British travel agency Miles Morgan Travel, which organized the cruise.
The memorial cruise departed from Southampton on April 8, making a stop the following day at Cobh, Ireland (formerly known as Queensland), where Titanic picked up more passengers, before proceeding to the disaster site, where the ship will host a memorial service for the victims.
After the service, the cruise will detour from Titanic’s original route to visit Halifax, Nova Scotia, where many Titanic victims are buried.
Howell’s wife and son will meet him in New York City, the trip’s final stop and the intended destination of Titanic, on April 19.
Miles Morgan Travel also organized an anniversary voyage, which departed from New York on April 10 and will meet the memorial cruise ship, the Balmoral, at the disaster site before stopping at Halifax and returning to New York.
Miles Morgan, founder and managing director of the travel agency, said the memorial cruise is the first trip to retrace Titanic’s route and the trips have been five years in the making.
A five-piece band playing period music and a menu featuring meals served on Titanic are among the details Balmoral passengers will experience. The ship, leased by Miles Morgan for the memorial cruise, is owned by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, whose parent company, Harland and Wolff, built Titanic in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
“Every step of the way we have sought to make it authentic to the era and a sympathetic memorial to the passengers and crew who lost their lives,” Morgan said in a statement.
Howell’s interest in Titanic was first sparked by the 1997 James Cameron movie.
“Historians have poked holes in what Cameron’s movie depicted, but he spent $200 million to bring as much realism to the event as possible,” Howell said. “You can read about it, but here’s someone who attempted to bring the panic and the hysteria to the movie screen. This is what people were experiencing. This was the horror. I thought he just did a wonderful job.”
Howell has been collecting Titanic artifacts for about 15 years. Among the more than 500 artifacts in his collection are an issue of the April 16, 1912, New York Times that printed news of the disaster, a piece of cane from a Titanic deck chair, a piece of carpet yarn from a Titanic stateroom, a smoking room floor tile from Titanic and a copy of the 1912 U.S. Senate Reports and Hearings on the Titanic disaster.
For more information, visit titanic
memorialcruise.co.uk or Howell’s website at thermstitanic.com. O