March 2, 2013
Multi-class tickets may also be sold so people can get a taste of life in first, second and third class during the six-day voyage from Southampton to New York. And there will be a video camera attached just below the bow of the ship to capture visitors -- who will be allowed onboard in port -- to capture their "I'm the king of the world" moment from the movie Titanic.
"Why did people build the Titanic in the first place?" asked the billionaire Australian businessman behind the venture, Clive Palmer, speaking at a press conference at the Ritz, in London. "Because they could and they can. It's about bringing to life the vision of so many people. It's so we can remember who we are and where we come from."
Palmer said Titanic II would serve as a memorial to all those who died on the original Titanic on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York almost 101 years ago.
"Think what it will be like when Titanic II arrives in New York on her maiden voyage," he added. "Titanic II is taking on the baton of Titanic. It will be a representation of all those people who set out to find a better life."
Palmer said the ship would hark back to a different, more innocent time, which is why he wants so few of today's modern distractions onboard. Titanic II is almost an exact replica of the original, with cabins, public rooms and even the tiny indoor pool, gymnasium and Turkish bath recreated as they were on Titanic.
However, it differs in three key ways: It is three inches longer, four metres (about 12 feet) wider and has an extra deck, Deck 7 -- ‘The Safety Deck'. It is on this deck where the new ship will differ most dramatically from the original, with the addition of more up-to-date distractions such as a casino and modern entertainment.
Palmer said money was not the primary consideration behind the project, joking: "But unfortunately it looks like I'm going to make a lot of money with this." He claimed that 40,000 people have requested tickets and that 16 people have said they are prepared to pay $1 million for a cabin on the maiden voyage.
A memorandum of understanding has been signed at a Chinese shipyard CSC Jinling but no formal contract has yet been agreed. The ship is due to set sail in 2016. A team has been put in place including renowned naval architect Markku Kanerua of Deltamarin, who designed a number of modern ships including Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas. When asked how designing Titanic II compared to the Oasis project he replied: "It's easy compared to Oasis. You're talking about a ship of 5,000 plus people compared to one which will carry fewer than 2,000." The only difficulties will be marrying the demands of the owner for authenticity to that of modern safety and designs, Kanerua added.
When Palmer was asked whether in fact the whole idea was an elaborate hoax, he had a one word response: "Bull****."
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor