Titanic cruise delayed due to strong winds

Chris Helgren / Reuters

Tormod Gaasbakk, left, and Anne Isabel Udbye of Trondheim, Norway, sit in a hot tub on a Titanic Memorial Cruise aboard the MS Balmoral as it navigates high winds April 9 on its sailing to Cobh.

It's been a stormy beginning for a cruise ship retracing the maiden voyage of the doomed Titanic.

The MS Balmoral, with 1,309 passengers aboard, was delayed on its first day at sea due to strong winds, the Guardian reports. The ship set sail Sunday from Southampton — as the Titanic did on its maiden voyage 100 years ago — on a 12-night cruise commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking.

After being slowed by strong winds, the Balmoral reached Cobh on Ireland's southern coast late Monday, the BBC reports.

The ship originally had been due to arrive in Cobh at 2:30 p.m. local time, according to the Guardian, forcing a civic reception to be postponed for several hours. The Balmoral arrived shortly before 6 p.m. and was greeted by thousands of well-wishers, Rachael Jackson, public relations manager for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, which operates the Balmoral, told msnbc.com.

The town of Cobh, formerly known as Queenstown, was the Titanic's last port of call before it crossed the Atlantic almost a century ago. The ship will follow the same route as the Titanic, though since it is a smaller ship, the Balmoral had to leave Southampton two days earlier than the Titanic.

The parent company of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Harland and Wolff, built the Titanic in Belfast. It has been chartered for the event by Miles Morgan Travel, which specializes in tailor-made holidays.

David Moir / Reuters

The Titanic Belfast Experience is a new visitor attraction location in Belfast's Titanic Quarter, on the original site of the Harland and Wolff shipyard -  birthplace of RMS Titanic.

Launch slideshow

Rachel O'Reilly, a spokeswoman for Miles Morgan Travel, told the Guardian that the ship was running late. "But I have spoken to Miles Morgan himself, who is on board, and he tells me the ship will categorically not be delayed leaving Cobh this evening."

Alastair Grant / AP

Mary Beth Crocker Dearing and her husband, Tom Dearing, from Newport, Ky., pose for the media in period costume as they wait to board the MS Balmoral cruise ship April 8 in Southampton, England.

The organizers are trying to recreate the onboard experience — minus the disaster — including the food and a live band playing music from that era, in a tribute to Titanic's musicians who reportedly played their instruments until the ship sank.

People from 28 countries have booked passage, organizers said, including relatives of some of the more than 1,500 people who died when the Titanic collided with an iceberg and sank on April 15, 1912, in international waters in the North Atlantic. Other passengers include relatives of the around 700 survivors, along with authors and historians.

The tickets varied in cost from 2,799 pounds ($4,445) to 5,995 pounds ($9,520).

Over the course of the voyage, passengers will attend lectures by Titanic experts such as Philip Littlejohn, grandson of a Titanic survivor. Littlejohn said he is sure his grandfather would be proud to know his story would be shared with passengers on the Titanic Memorial Cruise.

"It will be an emotional moment when we are over the wreck site, where I dived in 2001 and where my grandfather left Titanic rowing Lifeboat 13," he said.

While on board, passengers also will dine on meals based around dishes served in April 1912, with a formal dinner on April 13 made up entirely of dishes served aboard the Titanic.

Cruise organizers have set up a special memorial service on April 14 to start at 11:40 p.m. to mark the moment Titanic hit the iceberg, and later at the exact moment when the ship sank.

The cruise is among an abundance of commemorations and memorials to the reputedly unsinkable ship that have sprung up to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's doomed voyage.

Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.

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