THE ill fated journey of the Titanic is to be retraced on the 100th anniversary of the disaster.

A travel firm is taking reservations for the cruise which will follow the exact route, passing the point where the Titanic sank in April 1912, killing 1,517 of the 2,223 people on board.

Amongst the many famous passengers who died was William T Stead, a former editor of The Northern Echo. A pub is Darlington is named after him.

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The 12-night cruise on board MS Balmoral will depart from Southampton, Hampshire, on April 8, 2012, passing Cherbourg on the French coast before calling at the Irish port of Cobh as the original ship did.

A spokesman for Miles Morgan Travel, based in Bristol, said: "From here the ship will sail across the Atlantic, arriving at the Titanic site on April 14/15, exactly 100 years on from this tragic voyage, where a memorial service will be held to pay tribute to the brave passengers and crew who perished on that fateful night.

"The voyage will then continue to Halifax, Nova Scotia, the final resting place of many who were on board, before sailing on to New York, the Titanic's ultimate planned destination.

"This is obviously a unique event and such is the interest in the 100th anniversary of the Titanic it is highly recommended that a booking be made as soon as possible."

Prices for the unique cruise on board the Balmoral, which holds 1,350 passengers, start at £2,595.