Some people like to jump out of aeroplanes. Others like to surf down the side of an active volcano on a wooden board. And some people, apparently, seem happy to replicate the most cursed sea journey in our recent collective memory: the voyage of the Titanic.
When it embarked on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York on 10 April 1912, not one of the 2,224 passengers and crewmembers suspected the steam liner would last less than a week.
Most of us know the tragic story – on April 15, the Titanic scraped past a fateful iceberg, opening the seams of the hull below the waterline.
If you’re thinking “Who would want to replicate that?” – a very reasonable question, really – the answer lies in a company called Blue Star Line, owned by Australian millionaire, former politician and self-described “national living treasure” Clive Palmer.
Palmer announced the Titanic II in 2012, slated for a 2016 voyage, but the project ran into some woes in 2014.
The next year, work on the project was suspended due to a dispute between Palmer’s flagship company Mineralogy and Chinese company Citic Limited; according to Palmer, it meant he didn’t have enough resources for the Titanic II.
Then in 2016, a company called Queensland Nickel (owned by Palmer) went into voluntary administration. The administration report revealed that Palmer had taken AU$6 million from now collapsed Queensland Nickel to pay for the Titanic II – although Palmer denied this.
Now Blue Star Line has announced that the dispute between Mineralogy and Citic has been resolved, and construction on the US$500 million replica ocean liner has resumed.
Palmer has also appointed Clive Mensink, who is Palmer’s nephew and who was director of Queensland Nickel when it collapsed, as a director of the Titanic II project. The Australian Federal Court also has several warrants out for Mensink’s arrest for questioning over Queensland Nickel’s collapse. Mensink has been in hiding since 2016.
“Blue Star Line will create an authentic Titanic experience, providing passengers with a ship that has the same interiors and cabin layout as the original vessel, while integrating modern safety procedures, navigation methods and 21st century technology to produce the highest level of luxurious comfort,” Palmer said at a London event.
The Titanic II has enough room for 2,435 passengers and 473 crew, and will be equipped with adequate lifeboats, life jackets and other safety measures.
Her maiden voyage is scheduled for 2022, when it will travel from Dubai to Southampton. Once there, it will retrace the original Titanic‘s planned route across the North Atlantic to dock – one hopes – safe and sound in New York. There are also plans for voyages that circumnavigate the globe.
“In 1912 the Titanic was the ship of dreams. For over a century Titanic‘s legend has been powered by mystery, intrigue and respect for all she stood for,” Palmer said.
“Millions have dreamt of sailing on her, seeing her in port and experiencing her unique majesty. Titanic II will be the ship where those dreams come true.”
This is totally on form for Palmer, who appears to have a bit of a thing for blockbuster movies. In 2013, he launched a Jurassic Park-inspired theme park called Palmersaurus, featuring 160 animatronic dinosaurs. Visitor reviews, uh, were not kind before that park went the way of its exhibits: extinct.
Of course, there’s also a major feature film about the Titanic; James Cameron’s blockbuster starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio held the title of the highest-grossing film of all time until 2010.
There’s no word yet on when tickets for the Titanic II will be available, or how much they’ll be.
Given Palmer’s track record, though, it’s probably best not to hold your breath.