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Lest We Forget The Lusitania

Today is the day to remember the Lusitania.

Lusitania?

If there hadn’t been a Titanic, you’d know all about the Lusitania. It sank 100 years ago today, courtesy of a torpedo, and if the Titanic had missed that iceberg three years earlier, Lusitania would have been the word by which all cruise-ship disasters at sea would be measured.

There’s surely nobody left old enough to remember the Lusitania’s demise.

Cunard, at 175, is…and with good reason. The Lusitania was the first of 22 Cunard ships that were sunk during World War I, by then just a year old. Today, 11 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale in Ireland, near Cobh, Cunard’s Queen Victoria will hover over the Lusitaniaapproximate spot where the Lusitania went down. There will be floral tributes. Its whistles will sound. Chances are the Queen Victoria will linger for 18 minutes, because that’s how long it took for the old ship to disappear into the depths at 10 minutes past two that afternoon.

At the time, it was apparently the most famous ship in the world, heading from Liverpool to New York. Along with sister ship Mauritania, this was the first of what were called “floating palaces.” Many of the passengers were from the Liverpool area, Cunard’s original home. A church service and minute of silence were planned, along with a walk past the Lusitania’s propeller.

On the Queen Mary, in the midst of a 7-day memorial cruise, there is a Lusitania exhibition, assembled by Eric Sauder, who has dived onto the wreck and who was once a tour guide on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. Sauder has written two books on the ship, the release of the second to coincide with today’s anniversary.

David Dingle, CEO of Cunard Line, provided some context for the ship: “Her story was also one of triumph in the technical achievement of her construction and her glittering career from 1907 until the outbreak of war.”

That career began five years before the Titanic’s fateful maiden voyage in April 1912. Cobh was the last port before both ships crossed the ocean on the trip to New York. On the Titanic, 1,517 people perished. On the Lusitania, 1,190 perished.

But the Titanic was first. As such, its name is forever memorialized and Lusitania’s is not. She is remembered only on anniversaries like today.

In the news…

• Carnival's brands donate $200,000 to Nepal earthquake relief
• All-inclusive suite class coming to Royal Caribbean in 2016 [Travel Weekly]
• Freestyle Choice freebies for Norwegian cruisers who book this month
• Mexico building a cruise home port southwest of Phoenix [Arizona Republic]

Today at portsandbows.com: Flight deals to get to Silver Galapagos

Norwegian Jade
7 nights
June 6, 2015
Venice (return): Dubrovnik, Athens, Ephesus, Split
Inside: $649
Cost per day: $92
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A Sunken Cunard Ship not called Titanic

For those of us who enjoy being on ocean liners, there’s nothing like an old story about a ship…or a new story about an old ship.

Today’s topic: Cunard’s Lusitania.

In the realm of ship tragedies, this is something of a forgotten example. For one thing, the Titanic sank first (1914) and anything that’s first is automatically more notorious, whatever the subject. For another thing, 1,198 souls perished on the Lusitania, about Lusitania300 fewer than on the Titanic, and the Lusitania — while smaller, older and faster than the Titanic — was the first of the “floating palaces” yet never had the same celebrity cache. And the Lusitania didn’t hit an iceberg…it was hit by a torpedo. Many believe her demise at the guns of a German U-boat was part of the reason the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, three years after it began.

This all happened 100 years ago next May, and Cunard will memorialize the event with a cruise from Southampton (return) that will pass where the Lusitania lies, 11 miles off the coast of Ireland. It’s called Lusitania Remembered, and passengers on the Queen Victoria will be able to attend a special ceremony on shore in Cobh, Ireland and commemorative dinner that night (May 7) on the ship

One of the passengers will be Eric Sauder.

He is an historian who was commissioned by Cunard to create a temporary exhibition of Lusitania artifacts and memorabilia. A former tour guide on the old Queen Mary in Long Beach, he has written two books on the Lusitania and has dived to the sunken Queen Victoriaship. If nothing else, he’ll be fascinating. The Queen Victoria embarks on her historic journey on May 3. Among ship aficionados and story tellers, only the superstitious wouldn’t want to be on her when she leaves Southampton.

Today at portsandbows.com: Great prices for the Caribbean

Carnival Victory
5 nights
October 27, 2014
Miami (return): Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, Nassau
Inside: $219
Cost per day: $43
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