Thanks to the 1997 multiple-Oscar-winning movie featuring the overplayed title track by Celine Dion – the melancholic story of the Titanic has been etched into our hearts. While the movie, at its core, focused on the love story between a high-class English Socialite and an American peasant trying to get back home, the real-life incident was deemed as one of the largest maritime disasters of modern history. During its maiden voyage in 1912 from Southampton to New York City, then-largest commercial ship RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg on the Atlantic Ocean and sunk, drowning more than 1,500 passengers. Now, a century after the incident, an exact replica of the ship is being built that aims to undergo the same journey in the new millennium.
An identical copy of the infamous liner, Titanic II is the mastermind of Australian businessman and politician Clive Palmer. The idea was first floated in 2012, after which a financial dispute with the Chinese government halted development in 2015. Now, Palmer has announced that work on the ship has resumed and will undergo its maiden voyage by the year 2022 – exactly 110 years after its parent had set sails. While the ship will commence sailing from Dubai, it will halt in Southampton before embarking on the perilous journey across the Atlantic to New York City. “The ship will follow the original journey, carrying passengers from Southampton to New York, but she will also circumnavigate the globe, inspiring and enchanting people while attracting unrivaled attention, intrigue, and mystery in every port she visits,” said Palmer.
The nine-decked replica ship will be home to 835 cabins, accommodating 2,435 passengers. Similar to the original ship, travelers can buy first, second, and third-class tickets to avail a cabin. The ship will also be outfitted exactly like the original Titanic and include the grand staircase that plays a memorable role in the movie. In order to avoid a repeat disaster, Titanic II will be equipped with technologically advanced navigation and radar equipment, along with a welded hull unlike the riveted hull of the original. In the worst case of an accident, it will also be outfitted with plenty of lifeboats to carry all the passengers.
In 2016, China decided to build a Titanic replica at an estimated cost of $145 million. However, the replica isn’t poised to set sail in the ocean – being permanently docked 745 miles inland in a reservoir in the Qijang River. Meanwhile, American company OceanGate has scheduled diving trips into the wreck of the original Titanic for 2019. Costing $100,000 per person, the company provides a chance for the rich to witness the remains of the disaster first hand.
On account of the tragedy surrounding the first ship, many people have stated that replica ships and voyages to the shipwreck are in bad taste. However, an OceanGate official has stated that he doesn’t see diving to the wreck as inappropriate. “The people who tend to want to go are very respectful. And you can only do eight to nine civilians on a ship. So you’re not getting a bunch of giggling teenagers who are spending over $100,000 to go along and get selfies,” he said.
One can only hope that travelers respect the sanctity of the original ship while traveling on Titanic II, praying that the advanced navigation systems prevent the kind of disaster that occurred on its predecessor.