It’s a story that has fascinated us for more than 100 years: A grand ship designed with the utmost luxury in mind sinks to the bottom of the frigid Atlantic Ocean after being touted as “unsinkable.” Museums have been erected and, of course, blockbuster movies have been made, all to fulfill our fascination with this infamous icon. But one Australian billionaire, Clive Palmer, thought there was one experience left unexplored: creating an exact replica. Get ready for Titanic II.
Scheduled for 2018, Titanic II is set to follow the same path as the ill-fated vessel took in 1912, but this time it plans to complete the journey.
“The Titanic was the ship of dreams,” Palmer said in New York at the project’s official launch. “Titanic II is the ship where dreams will come true.”
This romantic notion has garnered a lot of discussion about whether or not it is a good idea. “Everyone is familiar with the decadence and beauty of the Titanic, and the nostalgic look at luxury from that era certainly inspires a certain association,” said Ross McGraw, senior vice president of creative brand experience at Optimist Inc. “On the downside, there is also an immediate connection to the tragedy and some less-than-luxurious lower-class areas” in the original ship.
Palmer says he’s aware of these negative associations and even plans to make the divide that used to exist between the upper and lower classes on the original Titanic system part of the experience. Forget inside, outside, or balcony stateroom options; passengers will be choosing between first class, second class, or steerage when it comes to their tickets.
Period costumes appropriate to their class will even be provided, and there’s a discussion of multiclass tickets so people can experience all three levels. Palmer joked that he would in third class because “that’s where the fun’s going to be.”
Playing dress-up and reliving the grandeur of the turn of the century may be very appealing to some, but what about the attachment to a terrible tragedy? “We find that people separate the historical significance of the Titanic and modern cruising,” says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief of Cruise Critic. “In fact, the blockbuster film starring Leo DiCaprio has actually spurred major interest in cruising, and some cruise lines even show it on board. Plus, so much has changed since 1912, in terms of safety, technology, and ship design.”
Cruise ships today may look much different than they did in the past, but Palmer promises that passengers will get the chance to see and feel what it was like to be on the most famous ship of all time. Historians, experts, and craftsmen are working together to ensure that Titanic II has all the same intricate details as the original. “We’re bringing in some of the best designers for cruise shipping from Europe that have had years of experience to make sure nothing is overlooked,” said Palmer. “We have a specification that is far, far superior than the original Titanic. But, the experience on the ship will be exactly the same.”
Still, there’s one question on everyone’s mind: Are there enough lifeboats? Though Titanic II will closely resemble the original, there will be important modifications, including a slightly wider hull, an extra layer of decking, and modern lifeboats. Palmer wants to pay homage to those 1,500 victims while maintaining total safety if something were to go wrong. “We will have 130 percent more than what is required,” said Palmer. “There is also a helicopter pad and satellite technology and navigation.”
Could this ship truly be unsinkable? Palmer stopped short of making that boasting, simply saying, “It would be very cavalier to say anything like that. I think people have said that in the past.”
Unlike the original, Titanic II has a website and Twitter account so people can stay up to date on the progress of the ship. Both will let you know when tickets finally become available.