En Route to Halifax, Nova Scotia

Got up fairly early this morning to bright sunshine and a calm ocean. After a good breakfast in the Palms Café we went out on deck; despite the sunshine however there was still a bit of a nip in the air. Well, it is still only April after all, and you know the old saying “Cast ne’er a clout until May is out”.

Our lecture this morning was given by the marine historian Peter Boyd-Smith and discussed the immediate aftermath of the Titanic disaster; what happened once the Carpathia arrived in New York and the initial enquiry into the cause of the catastrophe, as well as the various early (and , at the time, inaccurate) reports in the various newspapers of the time. As a souvenir, we’ve been given a replica front page of the Daily Mirror showing the headlines and news dated Tuesday, 16th April 1912.

Peter’s talk also touched on the ship, the Mackay Bennett, that brought the bodies to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where we are due to arrive tonight at about 8.00pm.

Once again we went up to the Observatory for a drink and a light lunch and enjoyed looking out at the sea. We noticed quite a few birds today, indicating that we are getting closer to land. Indeed, Captain Bamberg in his noon announcement informed us that the ocean depth was only 75 metres; really shallow compared to the 3,800 metres depth at which the Titanic lies.

Our afternoon lecture was given by Charles Haas and Jack Eaton and talked about the New York connection with Titanic and White Star Line; they showed slides of what New York was like in 1912 and what it is like now, and if any of the buildings still existed. As with all the talks we’ve had on this trip, it was very interesting.

When we came out we saw a huge queue and realised it was for a grand afternoon tea being given; you have probably never seen so many cakes and pastries displayed together in your life! There was probably about six cakes per passenger and there are 1309 of us on board. The chefs had really done a great job as ever. Trevor and I didn’t indulge however; it’s not as if we don’t get enough to eat on a cruise, ha ha. 🙂

Later that afternoon we looked out of our cabin window to see “land ahoy”; our first sight of land for a week. We watched the Balmoral slow right down and then the pilot boat came up alongside, the pilot boarded and guided her gently into her berth at Pier 21, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The dress code tonight was smart-casual and it was hardly surprising as everyone had one goal in mind for after dinner – going ashore. The Balmoral was due to stay in port overnight so it would give us a chance to spend the evening on terra firma. I felt sorry for the entertainment troupe who would probably be performing to a near-empty Neptune lounge later on.

We enjoyed a good dinner again; I started with soused herring and salad, then I had lamb cooked in strawberry and mint, with creamed potatoes, parsnip puree, carrots and peas, a dish which had been served to 1st Class passengers on board the Titanic. Against my better judgement I enjoyed crème caramel for dessert plus a glass of amaretto then, leaving the table fit to burst, we returned to cabin 4170 to change into warmer clothes for venturing ashore.

We disembarked the Balmoral around 8.30pm and took in our immediate surroundings. There were the usual shops and stalls set up at the wharf side selling souvenirs and postcards. We had docked at Pier 21 which is Nova Scotia’s version of New York’s Ellis Island, that is, it was the main immigration processing pier in days gone by, when there was mass immigration in the USA and Canada.

We bought some postcards then took a walk along the street, experiencing that usual phenomenon we get after days spent at sea (particularly rough sea) of still feeling as though you are moving, even when standing still. At this time of night all the shops were invariably closed, but we saw some pretty little bistros and wine bars along the harbour front and it was nice to be able to stretch our legs.

Eventually we decided to go into an Irish bar, similar to the “Scruffy Murphy’s” bars we get back home. It had a nice atmosphere and played rock music in the background. I wanted to write out my postcards but the light was too dim to allow this, but my Android phone indicated there was free Wi-Fi. 🙂 As I had my Netbook with me I was able to check my emails; in addition, we went onto the BBC News website and it allowed us to see the television coverage that our Titanic Memorial Cruise had been given by the BBC, as we’d had one of their cameramen on board with us all week. There was some great footage given of the Memorial Service the other night which allowed us to see the bits we’d missed. 🙂

We stayed in the Irish pub for three drinks each; by this time it was 11.00pm and time to make our way back to the Balmoral. Once back on board, it was nice to return to a cabin into unaccustomed silence as well as to get into a bed that wasn’t moving. We both slept soundly.

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