Agencies have reported that Fred Olsen's elderly Balmoral cruise ship chartered by Miles Morgan Travel for a Titanic Memorial Cruise averaging £6,500 per guest, has been forced to turn back after a passenger on board was taken seriously ill with a suspected heart attack.
Julian Bray, Cruise Industry Commentator and Titanic Lecturer said: The Balmoral, which set sail from Southampton on Sunday, called at Cherbourg and then Cobh, Ireland (Queenstown) retracing the first two legs of the ill fated RMS Titanic maiden voyage. The Fred Olsen ship following the medical evacuation is still expected to stop over the site of the sinking, where a memorial service will be held. It will then call into Halifax where many of the recovered bodies from the RMS Titanic sinking are buried. Using Balmoral, a fair weather ship, for what is an Atlantic Winter crossing, was always going to be a problem. The one saving factor is that the route taken by the Balmoral will not be the orginal northern plotted course taken by RMS Titanic, as after the sinking a more southerly line was taken, then some years later, a further move southwards was agreed by the maritime industry, avoiding icebergs......
Balmoral has now turned round and retracing some 20 nautical miles towards landfall so the passenger can be picked up by helicopter and transferred to hospital. Newer cruise ships have helicopter landing pads, but still need calm seas to land on deck.
Julian Bray adds: "The passenger is understood to be Tim Rex, 56, cameraman and a member of the BBC crew covering the voyage, who was thought to have suffered a heart attack, but was later seen to be upright and walking about. Doctors on board however decided that the passenger should as a precaution be referred to hospital for further tests. An air sea rescue helicopter was sent from Shannon and winched Mr Rex from the bow of the ship. Newer vessels have an integral helipad, where patients can be swiftly loaded by stretcher or ambulance wheelchair, without the need for winching.
Contributor: Media, Cruise Line, Aviation, Politics & Travel Expert, Broadcaster & Journalist Julian Bray NUJ, EQUITY UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 downline +44(0)1733 555 319 (HOME ISDN 017 33 55 53 19) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs Glensound C5 SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK