Titanic sails again! Would YOU book a berth on New York voyage ?
A replica of the ill-fated Titanic is to be built by Australian mining billionaire Clive Palmer, who plans to sail it on its maiden voyage from England to New York by the end of 2016. But how many people will be put off by the horrific history?
Billionaire Palmer: with a Titanic mock-up
Brett Jardine, an Australian cruise expert, said Titanic II could prove viable at the top end of the luxury market.
"From a marketing point of view, many will embrace it ,"he said, "and perhaps there'll be some that wouldn't. If you've got a niche, it's going to work".
The ship will be built by Chinese company CSC Jinling Shipyard, of Nanjing, with whom Palmer has signed a first-stage agreement . The Chinese Navy will be invited to escort it on its first trip, the Queensland-based businessman said in an e-mailed statement yesterday (Monday).
Asked by a reporter whether the new ship could sink, Mr Palmer, , said: "Of course it will sink if you put a hole in it." He added: "It will be designed as a modern ship with all the technology to ensure that doesn't happen. But, of course, if you are superstitious like you are, you never know what could happen.''
The ship will be exactly the same size as the original Belfast-built Titanic, then the largest liner in the world at just under 270 meters (about 880 feet) and 53 meters high. It sank 100 year ago on April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg east of Newfoundland.More than 1,500 passengers and crew died .
It will have four funnels like the original - but for decoration only. The ship will be diesel powered and will, like its predecessor, have 840 rooms on nine decks, said Palmer said. The shipping line will be called the Blue Star line, a nod to the original owner the White Star Line.
"It will be every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic, but of course it will have state-of-the-art 21st century technology and the latest navigation and safety systems," said the billionaire, along with gymnasiums and swimming pools.
Below the water line, there would be welding rather than rivets, a bulbous bow for greater fuel efficiency and enlarged rudder and bow thrusters for greater maneuverability. Avoid that iceberg!
The Titanic II will carry around 1,680 passengers, fewer than big modern cruise ships which carry more than 2,000 passengers, he said.
Palmer's current investments include golf courses, hotels, coal and iron-ore mining projects, a nickel smelter, a football team and a horse stud.
A former media adviser to Queensland's late state premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, 58-year-old also has political ambitions . He unveiled the Titanic II plan an hour before a separate announcement that he would stand against Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan at a federal election due next year.
The Chinese shipbuilding industry has not previously been a builkder of cruise ships, concentrating on bulk carriers. The market is dominated by European shipbuilders.
But Palmer said, "The Chinese ship-building industry with our assistance wants to be a major player in this market."