12/04/2012...7:03 pm

What is it about Titanic that keeps people coming back?

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Starboard view of the White Star Line passenger liner R.M.S. embarking on its ill-fated maiden voyage.

As the commemoration of the centenary of Titanic’s sinking continues — 100 years on April 15 — we got to thinking about why, exactly, so many people feel a connection to the 20th century’s best-known cruise ship disaster. And, in particular, why the commemoration of the tragedy has the tendency to take on a ‘celebratory’ air.

In this ‘Titanic season,’ we’ve seen television mini-series, a re-release of the 1990s box-office record-breaker ‘Titanic’ in 3D, the opening of a museum and visitor attraction, Titanic Belfast, in Ireland and a selection of theme cruises memorialising the disaster. And these are only a few of the myriad Titanic-related offerings, making it clear that, 100 years on, Titanic is still very much a part of the zeitgeist … right?

(The alternative argument is, of course, that the focus on the ill-fated ship is driven by a combination of businesses trying to make a buck and media hype, but generally you don’t have the hype without pretty strong interest from the consumer.)

So, are you interested? If so, what pulls you in? How do you connect to this hundred-year-old disaster story?

Are you drawn in by the macabre, the gruesome and tragic loss of life? Despite more than 1,500 passengers perishing in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic, Titanic is not the deadliest maritime disaster of the 20th century. In fact, shipwrecks in the 19th, 20th and the 21st century surpass Titanic in terms of death toll.

Are you related to someone who was onboard? In a blog post we published in 2010, ‘Emotions run high over Titanic memorial cruise,’ we quoted Cruise Critic members from our forums who had familial connections to Titanic. Some of whom were none too happy with people’s plans for dressing in period costume to ‘celebrate’ onboard the Titanic memorial cruises. And, there’s also that chilling visit to the site of the disaster, where an at-sea memorial will take place.

Or is it simply a need to remember? Certainly enough people have felt that need to fill (or come close to filling) a few Titanic memorial cruises. Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral has seen the most media coverage with a celebratory sail away from Southampton, passengers dressed in period costume, relatives and descendants of Titanic’s original passengers making the memorial journey, and a couple of eerie delays to the journey.

Tell us (in our comments), what is it about Titanic that keeps you coming back?

–Jamey Bergman


  • My personal view is that the event is of great historical interest
    and a warning to master mariners who venture into waters where icebergs lurk.

  • Laura Valentine

    I have always been fascinated by the story of the Titanic, and even more so when I discovered a few years ago that a distant cousin, Henry Sleeper Harper (1st cousin, several times removed), his wife, man-servant, and prized pet Pekinese, Sun-yat Sen, had survived in lifeboat number 3. I think for me it was the poignant stories; All the women who refused to leave their husbands, John Jacob Astor helping his pregnant wife into a lifeboat (And her maid and nurse) and then stepping back, the Unsinkable Molly Brown, and the lady that wouldn’t go without her Great Dane and was spotted several days later, dead in the water with her arms around the dog. So many true stories that were 1000 times more interesting than that any story cooked up by Hollywood.

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