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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Titanic memorial cruise becomes a disaster for West Cumbria couple

The curse of the Titanic struck when a Workington couple’s memorial cruise to the site of the famous wreck turned into a disaster of its own.

Sheila Richardson

High Harrington woman Sheila Richardson, who was accompanied by partner Norman Hall, said: “There was almost a passenger mutiny at times because so much went wrong.”

Passengers on board the Balmoral, which was marking the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking in the north Atlantic, missed promised trips and some were upset when they were not allowed to throw wreaths overboard at the wreck site.

Mrs Richardson, an author, photographer and member of Workington Civic Trust, said she jumped at the chance to sail on the Balmoral, from Southampton, on what she thought would be an experience of a lifetime.

The Balmoral followed the course of the Titanic and then carried on to New York.

Mrs Richardson, a self-confessed Titanic maniac, signed up for the cruise three years ago.

The first nasty surprise came a month before the ship sailed when passengers were informed they would have to pay a fuel surcharge of £326 each. Travel agents had not taken out the insurance to protect passengers from the payment.

The ship left Southampton and arrived late in Ireland which meant planned onshore trips were cancelled.

She said: “Ireland was a highlight though. The reception at Cobh was amazing. They were commemorating the Titanic and there were hundreds of people out to see the Balmoral.”

They left Ireland but had to turn back to get within range of a rescue helicopter after a BBC cameraman was taken ill.

However, they arrived at the site of the Titanic wreck on schedule and prepared for a commemoration.

Passengers were told they could not throw wreaths or mementoes overboard because the wreck was now a UNESCO site.

Mrs Richardson said: “The ship had organised three biodegradable wreaths.

“As well as the passengers’ wreaths there were flowers from the South African government, Australia, Finland and more.

“They did set out a display of all the artefacts and mementos and that was moving, but it was ridiculous the way things were handled.”

She said many passengers left the ship at New York and cheap fares were offered to anyone wanting to sail back to Southampton, just to fill the spaces.

A further stop-off at an island off Newfoundland was also cancelled.

Mrs Richardson said: “It was a very disappointing trip and there were angry passengers.”

Miles Morgan Travel, which operated the cruise on behalf of Fred Olsen Cruises, said the fuel supplement costs were passed on by the cruise company.

A spokeswoman confirmed that no wreaths or mementos could be thrown overboard under UNESCO rules.

Have your say

Couldn't throw wreaths over board - people will find anything to moan about and make a story out of these days. I wonder what Fred. Olsen cruises will do about this, most likely nothing as its silly.

Posted by John on 18 May 2012 at 16:39

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