From the Balmoral, All is Well

We awoke around 8.00am and, after a good breakfast in the Palms Café, decided to go out on deck where the weather looked much brighter. We had a good wander along the deck, taking in the bracing sea air and watching the Balmoral as she glided through the deep waters of the north Atlantic. There was not so much of a swell today, so it was much easier to move around and all we could feel was the gentle, almost soporific, rocking of the vessel along with the muted vibration from her engines.

At 9.45am we went, as ever, along to the Neptune lounge to listen to the talk, with was all about the Canadian connection with the Titanic. In 1912, however, anyone bound for Canada (even if they were born there) were referred to as “British subjects” so, technically, there are no Canadians listed as being on board the Titanic. However, the speaker, Alan Hustak, said that there were actually 130 Canadians on board the doomed vessel, 48 of which survived.

He then showed a still from the 1997 James Cameron movie, “Titanic” which showed the fictitious characters Jack and Rose and asked everyone to forget all about that image and that movie, at which everyone applauded. This is because any Titanic aficionados (among which I’d like to include myself) absolutely hate the Di Caprio/Winslet film – why include a fictional sub-plot in a true story that is fascinating enough in itself? Also, there were many elements of Cameron’s movie that were historically inaccurate; but that’s enough about that. As our speaker said; forget this image, forget the movie. He was going to tell us the real love story on Titanic which related the short, but steamy affair between a 1st Class passenger, Quigg Baxter, who was a well-known hockey player from Montréal, Canada and a 3rd Class passenger who was a some-time night club singer (allegedly) called Bertha Villiers. To give us a laugh, he’d Photoshopped their images over the Di Caprio and Winslet faces in the photo. 🙂

We had a good walk around the deck of the Balmoral afterwards, and took lots of photos of her from various decks and angles, which can be seen in my gallery. On the lee side of the ship it was fairly mild and, indeed, some people were even braving the Deck 11 swimming pool. We decided to go into the Observatory and have a quiet drink with our birds’ eye view over the Atlantic.

At 12.00 noon exactly came Captain Bamberg’s navigational information from the bridge. We always enjoy listening to this information and it is interesting that they still say that the ship has “steamed” however many nautical miles since the previous day’s announcement. The captain told us the latitude and longitude, the temperature, the wind speed and how many nautical miles we’d travelled. He then ended his announcement, as he does every day, with “Ladies and gentlemen, have a very good afternoon and from the Bridge, all is well.” One of the unique little quirks we often find on each voyage we’ve done, like the captain on the Marco Polo during our Antarctic expedition in 2006, who always ended his midday speech with a little poem. 🙂

After the captain’s announcement the pianist in the Observatory, who had been quietly playing in the background, introduced Lauren Casey, a singer-songwriter. She sat down at the piano and started to “sing”, or should I say screech. What a dreadful, high-pitched voice. We had noticed that the glass in one of the windows of the observatory for’ard had been smashed into tiny smithereens, and we wouldn’t have been surprised if Ms. Casey’s tortuous high notes had done it. When she commenced singing the dreadful Celine Dion song My Fart Will Go On, we decided it was time to leave. Sorry for the play on words, but I hate this song almost as much as I hate the film it comes from.

We went into the Marquee Bar out of the way, and it was obvious that the other people present had the same opinion of the singer that I did, as we could still hear her wailing and ululating her way through her repertoire every time the door opened. There was a brief respite as she took her break for half an hour or so, before starting again. We decided to go somewhere out of earshot.

We went back to our cabin briefly before going up to the Lido lounge where a lady who impersonates Titanic survivor Mrs Margaret Brown was doing a talk called “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”. It was only 1.30pm and she was not due on until 2.00pm but the place was already packed and we could only get a seat fairly near the back, at the left hand side. However, we got the usual supply of extremely inconsiderate and selfish people, arriving late and then grabbing chairs from outside, bringing them into the lounge and then plonking them down right in front of people who’d made the effort to be there in good time. It absolutely infuriates me and we come across this sort of behaviour time after time. It meant that, from where I was sitting, I had gone from an impeded view to now no view at all. Really annoying. I decided to leave as I couldn’t see anything and it just spoilt it for me.

However, we managed to get a good seat in the Neptune Lounge afterwards for the Question and Answer session with some of the speakers we had listened to on this voyage so far. The panel consisted of Philip Littlejohn, Susie Millar, Senan Moloney, Ron Warwick and Charles Haas. It was immensely interesting as the members of the audience were invited to take the microphone and put their questions to the panel. There was a wide range of questions from all nationalities and it really illustrated the panel’s knowledge of the people and the events of the Titanic as there was not a question remained unanswered. From my perspective, I was very pleased to hear the ridiculous myths and conspiracy theories that have sprung up in recent years about the Titanic firmly refuted and dispelled. A few of them: the rivets and steel used were inferior (untrue), an unusual phase of the moon affected the tides (untrue), it was really the Olympic and not the Titanic that sank (untrue). In each case the members of the panel were able to argue, convincingly why these stories were just so farcical.

We passed the afternoon pleasantly before getting changed for dinner and going along to the Ballindalloch restaurant, where we had a full house at table #61. As ever, we enjoyed a sumptuous meal in excellent company; the wine and the conversation flowed until, fully sated, we hot-footed it along to the Neptune lounge for the evening’s entertainment, a comedy pianist called Colin Henry.

The comedian was absolutely hilarious; at least the Brits thought so although I suspect some of our transatlantic friends may have had a little trouble with the Lancashire humour. 🙂 He was also a very talented pianist and his pièce de résistance was standing on his head, back to the piano, resting his legs on the top of the instrument then playing a note perfect tune upside down. Apparently he’s in the record books for this. He also played an excellent rendition of Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto, a piece of music which I love and which is completely underrated.

We finished the evening off by going, as usual, to the Lido lounge for a singing quintet who were very pleasant, before having a nightcap and then off to bed. It didn’t take us long to fall asleep tonight, lulled by the Balmoral’s gentle rocking among the vast seascape of the Atlantic.

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