Some of the passengers have a direct link to the ship, through an ancestor who was onboard. Most feel some sort of connection to an event whose ripples have resonated for a century. Edwards said the lives of her grandparents, who married in 1911, were marked by the disaster even though they lived far away in Montana.
"They had talked about going back to Sweden to see his parents, and they didn't because of the Titanic," she said.
Another cruise ship, Journey, left New York on Tuesday and will join Balmoral at the site.
In Belfast, Northern Ireland, where Titanic was built - pride of the Harland & Wolff shipyard - thousands were expected to attend a choral requiem at the Anglican St. Anne's Cathedral or a nationally televised concert at the city's Waterfront Hall on Saturday.
The city spent decades scarred by its link to the disaster, but has come to take pride in the feats of engineering and industry involved in building the Titanic.
The memorial concert will feature performances by Bryan Ferry and soul singer Joss Stone, as well as 100 drummers beating out a new percussion work, "Titanic Drums." Actors including Kenneth Branagh, Simon Callow and Imelda Staunton will read from contemporary accounts of the disaster.
At the cathedral, the performance of composer Philip Hammond's "The Requiem for the Lost Souls of the Titanic" will be followed by a torch-lit procession to the Titanic Memorial in the grounds of Belfast city hall.
In the ship's departure port of Southampton, an orchestra will play composer Gavin Bryars' work "The Sinking of the Titanic," and a commemoration is planned in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where more than 100 victims of the tragedy are buried.
The most famous maritime disaster in history is being marked around the world, even in places without direct links to it.
Venues in Las Vegas, San Diego, Houston and even Singapore are hosting Titanic exhibitions that include artifacts recovered from the site of the wreck. Among them: bottles of perfume, porcelain dishes, even a 17-foot piece of hull.
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 rerelease of James Cameron's 1997 romantic weepie "Titanic," which awakened a new generation's interest in the disaster.