From Titanic’s birthplace in a Belfast shipyard to its resting place in the North Atlantic, thousands were gathering Saturday to remember the cruise ship that embarked on its maiden voyage as an icon of Edwardian luxury but became, in a few dark hours 100 years ago, an enduring emblem of tragedy. The ship was traveling from England to New York, carrying everyone from plutocrats to penniless emigrants, 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. Aboard the Balmoral, a cruise ship that is taking 1,309 history buffs and descendants of Titanic victims on the route of the doomed voyage, passengers and crew will hold two memorial services at the site of the disaster, 400 miles (640 kilometers) off the coast of Newfoundland — one marking the time when the ship hit the iceberg, the other the moment it sank below the waves.

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100th Anniversary of the Titanic

The cruise ship Balmoral is prepared prior to boarding of passengers going on the Titanic Memorial Cruise in Southampton. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Titanic Memorial Cruise leaves port in Southampton. STAFF/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

A lifeboat from the Titanic pulls alongside the Carpathia following the sinking of the Titanic. HANDOUT/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Crowd in New York awaiting survivors from Titanic to arrive aboard the Carpathia following the sinking of the Titanic. HANDOUT/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Titanic is launched into River Lagan for towing to fitting-out berth where her engines, funnels and interiors would be installed. HANDOUT/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Titanic just prior to being launched into River Lagan for towing to a fitting-out berth where her engines, funnels and interiors would be installed. HANDOUT/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Passengers and crew walk under posters of passengers from the Titanic as they make their way to the deck of the Azamara Journey cruise ship, in New York. KEITH BEDFORD/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

A visitor to the Bonham's auction house looks over antique newspaper headlines related to the sinking of the Titanic, on display in New York. KEITH BEDFORD/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Anais Verbraeken of Belgium poses on board the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Copies of original newspapers describing the sinking of the Titanic rest in an exhibit at the South Street Seaport Museum commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic in New York. LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

A patron photographs a model at an exhibit at the South Street Seaport Museum commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic in New York. LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

A patron looks at pieces of an exhibit at the South Street Seaport Museum commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic in New York. LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

A crew member rearranges the deck chairs on the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Derek Chambers of Belfast shows off tattoos of Titanic's crew while onboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Patricia Watt holds a picture of her grandfather George Mackie while onboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Lynn Chambers of Belfast shows off tatto while onboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Commemorative Titanic stamps from St. Vincent and the Grenadines are seen on board the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Maritime artist Flood of Florida paints the doomed Titanic liner as it would have appeared arriving in New York, onboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Descendants of Titanic survivors and victims gather for a portrait during an informal meeting onboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

A man walks past a mural to the Titanic in East Belfast ahead of the 100th anniversary of Titanic's fateful maiden voyage.. CATHAL MCNAUGHTON/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

A woman walks past a mural to the Titanic in East Belfast ahead of the 100th anniversary of Titanic's fateful maiden voyage.. CATHAL MCNAUGHTON/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

A general view of the dock in East Belfast where the Titanic was built.. CATHAL MCNAUGHTON/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

A man walks past a mural to the Titanic in East Belfast ahead of the 100th anniversary of Titanic's fateful maiden voyage.. CATHAL MCNAUGHTON/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Passengers enjoy traditional afternoon tea as they sit in a top floor lounge on board the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Passengers queue to enter a reception on board the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

The crew of the MS Balmoral takes a bow to assembled passengers during a reception on board the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Tormod Gaasbakk and Anne Isabel Udbye of Trondheim, Norway, pose before a reception on board the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Passengers dressed in period costumes assemble for a group photograph on board the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

A horse-drawn carriage with period style casket leads a procession past St.Paul's church in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia. PAUL DARROW/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Three wreaths are seen before a memorial service on board the MS Balmoral in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Beaumont-Jones of Australia, is embraced by a friend, as she views the passing sea at sunset, as the Titanic Memorial Cruise. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

People watch an interpretive presentations to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic in Halifax, Nova Scotia. PAUL DARROW/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Two women hold candles as they watch presentations commemorating the100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic in Halifax Nova Scotia. PAUL DARROW/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

People holding candles sit on the steps of St. Paul's church in Halifax, Nova Scotia. PAUL DARROW/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

People gather in the Grand Parade for performances commemorating the 100th anniversary Titanic sinking in Halifax, Nova Scotia. PAUL DARROW/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Passengers observe a two minutes silence on board the Titanic Memorial Cruise over the Titanic disaster site in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

A cruise ship lies over the Titanic disaster site 100 years after it hit an iceberg in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

A wreath floats in the sea during a service of remembrance aboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Belgian violinist Kerckhoven performs with quintet Grupetto during a service of remembrance aboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Passengers embrace after a service of remembrance aboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Passengers sing hymns during a religious service of remembrance aboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Susie Millar looks out to sea after a service of remembrance aboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Women arrive on deck to observe a two minute silence on board the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Passengers observe a two minute silence on board the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Passengers observe a two minute silence on board the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Passengers observe a two minute silence on board the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

A wreath is seen before a memorial service on board the Titanic Memorial Cruise, over the Titanic disaster site in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Passengers take part in service of remembrance aboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Belgian quintet Grupetto perform during a service of remembrance aboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Passengers sing during a service of remembrance aboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

100th Anniversary of the Titanic

Passengers embrace after a service of remembrance aboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise in the western Atlantic Ocean. CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

Apr 15, 2012