July 18, 2012
Palmer wants to protect pensioners from themselves and questions whether anyone who can't afford a First Class ticket should even be gambling onboard.
Speaking at a press conference in Brisbane yesterday, Palmer also revealed the deck plans for the replica ship -- which will follow the original plans as closely as possible but with one or two modern additions, including lifts, air-conditioning -- and enough (modern) lifeboats.
The ship, which is being built in China, will be about four feet wider in the beam, with an extra deck to carry more passengers, lifeboats and safety equipment, including escape chutes. The hull will be welded (rather than riveted), and it will be diesel-powered, rather than run by coal, despite Palmer making his billions from mining.
Teijo Niemela, Editor of Cruise Business Review, questioned how closely it would be possible to stick to the original design: "It's quite an interesting problem that they're going to have with the design. The closer they keep the design to the original, the less the ship will be modern. After a few years when all who are interested have seen the product, how many will want to go back to a ship whose design is 100 years old?
On the other hand, if they incorporate too many modern features, such as the gadgets Queen Mary 2 has, then the problem is it wouldn't be Titanic II."
Like the original, Titanic II will be divided into first, second and third classes, with those in steerage sharing bathrooms and sitting at long tables for meals.
Clearly influenced by the James Cameron movie, Palmer said that's where he would be found –- dancing jigs (presumably with a Kate Winslet lookalike) –- in third class:
"It's more fun to dance around with an Irish drum than it is to sit at a casino all night," he said at the press conference. "That's where I'll be -- that's where the fun will be!"
First-class tickets on the original ship in today's money would cost about £57,000 -- about the price of a world cruise on a six star ship today, and out of reach of all but the most wealthy. Palmer said: "I'm sure we can do better than that," when asked what a first class ticket would sell at.
When pressed why he wanted to ban pensioners from the casino, Palmer insisted he did not want to cause offence to the elderly: "I love pensioners. My closest relations are pensioners," he said. "I was just trying to say that we need to protect and respect people who have given a lot service to this country and make sure that we don't act positively to impoverish them later -- that's all it boils down to. We have to have some social responsibility too."
The casino is likely to be located in first class, so as with on Cunard's Grill Class, it will be possible to segregate passengers, Palmer explained: "There will be some sort of screening to make sure the people who do go there are people who can afford to go there. I think third class we'd have to have questions about, wouldn't we? If you can afford a first class ticket at the prices that I'll be charging, you can probably afford to go to the casino. We'll only locate the casino in first class probably, so we should be able to segregate."
The drawings released yesterday depict nine decks, complete with first-, second- and third-class staterooms, as well as officer and crew accommodations. From deck D upward, engineers Deltamarin have managed to keep the public rooms, passenger stairs, cabins and features in similar locations as in the original ship. The board of his shipping company, Blue Star Line, is yet to approve the final design. The first voyage is set for late 2016.
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor