Passengers aboard the Titanic memorial cruise ship Azamara Journey are now at the site of the marine disaster that unfolded in the North Atlantic 100 years ago and will lay a wreath where the legendary vessel sank.
The Titantic, an icon of Edwardian luxury, was travelling from England to New York when it struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912. It sank at 2:20 a.m. on April 15, with the loss of more than 1,500 of the 2,208 passengers and crew.
The Azamara Journey left New York on April 10 carrying history buffs, many dressed in period costumes. They stopped in Halifax on Thursday to visit one of the cemeteries in the city where 121 Titanic victims are buried.
CBC reporter David Common, who is on the Azamara, said he expects to seeing a lot of "moving" scenes of emotion to unfold Saturday night as relations and others on board pay their respects.
Another ship retracing the route of the Titanic, the MS Balmoral, set sail from southern England on April 8, and will join the Journey for memorial services, 640 kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland.
Late Saturday afternoon, the Canadian Ice Service announced it paid its respects to the victims of the Titanic. One of the planes that patrols the waters off Newfoundland flew over the site of the wreck, dropping a wreath and rose petals from the plane.
The U.S. Coast Guard had planned to twin the fly-over with the Canadians but that flight got called away to another rescue.
A family's close call
Kathy Corson of Hamilton, Ont., said her mother and a number of siblings had planned to travel on the Titanic during its ill-fated maiden voyage, but they ended up waiting for the next ship to leave from Southampton, England.
Corson, speaking to CBC's John Northcott Friday at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, said her mother would have celebrated her 13th birthday on April 13, a day before the Titanic started sinking.
"She was going to come over on the Titanic with her sisters and her older brothers. When one of the brothers came down, he wanted to take them first-class because they had lost their parents," she said.
"But they couldn't get enough tickets, so they waited for the next boat to come over."
The centenary of the disaster has been marked with a global outpouring of commemoration and commerce. Events have ranged from the opening of a glossy new tourist attraction telling the ship's story in Belfast to a 3-D re-release of James Cameron's 1997 romantic epic Titanic, which awakened a new generation's interest in the disaster.
In Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the Titanic was built, thousands attended a choral requiem at the Anglican St. Anne's Cathedral on Saturday. There was also a nationally televised concert at the city's Waterfront Hall.
Helen Edwards, one of 1,309 passengers aboard the Balmoral, said the story's continuing appeal was due to its strong mixture of romance and tragedy, history and fate.
"[There are] all the factors that came together for the ship to be right there, then, to hit that iceberg. All the stories of the passengers who ended up on the ship," said Edwards, a 62-year-old retiree from Silver Spring, Maryland.
"Romance is an appropriate word right up until the time of the tragedy — the band playing, the clothes. And then there's the tragedy."