Titanic lives for another maiden voyage, and if you have a lot of cash to spare, you could have the journey of a lifetime.
That’s at least the spin. The reality is not much different. To hear its backers tell it, Titanic II will be as much a legend as the ship that launched a thousand dreams.
A replica of the luxury liner is being built by Australian shipping tycoon Clive Palmer to tap a market that is looking for new and unique experiences. And in this, few markets are as lucrative as the Chinese.
“Certainly, a strong, sizable proportion [of passengers] will be from China. Titanic II has a relatively strong Chinese element compared with the original Titanic because it will be built in China and many hardware on board will be supplied by Chinese companies,” Raymond Tam, director of Asian Operations of Palmer’s Blue Star Line, told the Hong Kong Economic Journal’s EJ Insight.
The cruise ship is scheduled to make its six-day maiden voyage from Shanghai to Southampton, London and New York in late 2016. Commissioned in February, the ship is being built by state-owned CSC Jinling Shipyard Co. Ltd. in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. Design work is undertaken by Finland-based naval architecture firm Deltamarin Ltd.
Tam did not reveal the construction cost nor say how much it will take to experience Titanic II. However, he said quite a number of customers have indicated they are willing to pay as much as US$1 million to join the maiden voyage.
The ship will shuttle between Southampton and New York after the first voyage.
Tam said the measurement, design and facilities of the new liner will replicate the original Titanic. It will be 270 meters long and 32 meters wide and will accommodate 2,400 passengers and 900 crew members.
As in the original Titanic, its 835 rooms will be divided into three classes. Passengers in steerage will share rooms with double-deck beds.
“We want to give passengers the authentic Titanic experience, which is the central theme,” Tam said. “There won’t be any internet services. We want passengers to talk to each other.”
As a concession to Chinese tastes, Tam said they had to make some adjustments to its restaurant menus. A casino and a theater are standard features. “We have an open mind about forming partnerships with gaming operators to run the casino,” he said.
The project is being solely funded by Palmer, whom Tam described as a big fan of the tragic ship. He said Palmer wants to recreate the legendary British liner and make a success of it. Titanic sank on its maiden voyage in 1912 after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic. More than 1,500 people died.
“Profit is certainly not the motive. He [Palmer] has long been fascinated by the Titanic story. It’s an icon and a legend… He wants to rebuild the legend,” Tam said.
Palmer owns magnetite iron ore companies Mineralogy Pty. Ltd. and Queensland Nickel Pty. Ltd. He is reputed to be the wealthiest man in Queensland. His interests run from business to politics.
Mineralogy has commissioned the Chinese shipyard to build four bulk cargo ships. The first carrier will begin operation early next year.
To ease worries over a repeat of the Titanic tragedy, Tam said Blue Line will educate potential customers that the ship’s new iteration will use the latest safety navigation technology. It has enough lifeboats, to begin with.
Also, Tam said the global maritime industry has significantly tightened safety regulations. The company will educate passengers to enhance their sense of security. “Safety is the key. We will make sure about that,” he said.
Tam sees enormous potential for the venture given that Titanic is an iconic global brand. In keeping with the dash and dazzle under which it was launched from an Irish dockyard more than a century ago, plans are afoot to make the new ship’s debut a star-studded extravaganza, complete with Hollywood glitz and glamor.
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