This is not just any new cruise ship being launched.
This is billionaire Clive Palmer's folly. His gift to the world after a phenomenal career in finance and mining that has brought him untold wealth. And why is this ship different from any other cruise ship? The Blue Star Cruise Line's Titanic II, as near as possible, will be an almost exact replica of the Titanic - only 3 inches longer. Large swathes of it will be modelled on the original White Star liner that famously sank in 1912. Of course, there is an additional deck inserted where the life boats are located that will be all about safety, but the sumptuous Grand Staircase, Turkish Baths, Gymnasium, Smoking Room, First Class Dining Room, Veranda and Palm Courts and Café Parisienne will all be there. And nearly exact replicas of the spaces that were on board the original cruise liner.
He waves aside criticism that naming this ship after the Titanic is disrespectful to those 1500+ original passengers who met a horrific fate when the largest cruise ship in history sank not long after it launched. He insists that this project is about peace and love and bringing people of the world closer together. But the many references to James Cameron's movie, Titanic, and the characters of Jack and Rose do make it seem like a Titanic Theme Park, particularly when it is revealed that visitors at the various ports of call will be able to come on board for a brief photo opp. at the bow of the ship. Won't everyone want to mimic Kate Winslet's famous pose from the film? I imagine quite a few will.
On interviewing Professor Palmer, he said that the Titanic II will hark back to an era when life was slower and people 'cared about each other'. "There are no plans to have Wi-Fi or internet on board," he reports. Again there is a reference to Jack and Rose and also Romeo and Juliet with the suggestion that romance is what people are seeking when taking to sea. There have already been 40,000 inquiries from people seeking to book a voyage on the Titanic II. An astonishing number. Is interest still lingering after the memorial cruises that occurred last year, I ask? "That is not what has propelled me to take on this project, it is just the right time in my life for me to take on something of this magnitude".
"Titanic was a ship of dreams and Titanic II promises to be a ship where dreams come true", he says.
Controversially, the ship will have 1st, 2nd and 3rd class sections and segregation just as the original Titanic did. When I ask him why he would want to replicate the steerage class and segregation of passengers by class that existed in the early part of the last century, he replied, "The Titanic II is about taking people on a personal journey. The class separation on board will be re-created so that people will be able to experience what it would have been like to travel on a luxury ship in 1912". He even states that, if he can, he will book himself on 3rd class passage and go incognito. "We plan to have passengers measured up and an entire wardrobe of Edwardian clothes put in their cabins awaiting them when they embark. Guests will even have the option of travelling in all three classes to get a complete experience of what Edwardian life was like on board the Titanic".
The ship will launch, with great fanfare, on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in 2016 after being constructed at the Jingling Shipyard in Jiangsu province of China. She will sail nearly the identical voyage from Southampton that Titanic undertook just over one hundred years ago. This time, one can pretty safely assume, without any dire consequences.
Professor Clive Palmer trained in law and business and is one of the most celebrated people in Australia. He owns the largest collection of cars on his continent, 100 trotting race horses and also a luxury hotel and many other properties. His business interests include mining, property and tourism. He teaches Macro Economics at Deakin University in Queensland and Bond University on the Gold Coast.
Specifications of the Titanic II:
Length: 269m (3 inches longer than the original)
Crew and Officers: 900
Life Boat Capacity: 2700
Titanic Features retained:
1st class: Gymnasium, Turkish Baths, Squash court, Swimming Pool, Grand Staircase, Smoking Room, Veranda and Palm Courts, Cafe Parisien, A La Carte Restaurant, Reading and Writing Room, two Millionaire suites on B Deck, 1st class lounge, Dining Room and Reception Room.
2nd and 3rd Class spaces, features and accommodation.
Starboard side cabins on B Deck, 51,53, 55 and Port side B-52,54 and 56 consisting of two bedrooms, private bath and sitting room with fireplace and enclosed private area on promenade deck.
Also: Marconi Room, Chart Room, Captain Smith's Sitting Room his Bedroom and Quarters.
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