Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Titanic fans get cabin fever as liner's replica to retrace voyage

An artist's impression of Titanic II
An artist's impression of Titanic II
Billionaire Clive Palmer at MGM Studios, Los Angeles
Billionaire Clive Palmer at MGM Studios, Los Angeles

For £3, a ticket on the maiden voyage of the Belfast-built Titanic could have been yours back in 1912.

Today, spend-happy romantics are offering over £600,000 for a seat on a £330m replica of the ill-fated liner.

Titanic II is scheduled to set sail on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in 2016, along the route planned for the original, which ended in disaster after hitting an iceberg over a century ago.

The 885ft long, 187ft high, nine-floored liner, fitted with 840 cabins, is to be built at a Chinese shipyard for Australian mining billionaire Clive Palmer who wants to recreate life aboard the legendary ocean liner.

The Jinling Shipyard in Nanjing has already signed an initial agreement to build the ship.

It is claimed that design work for the vessel will precisely resemble the great four-funnelled original Titanic, built by Harland & Wolff, including the famous staircase.

Passengers will use Turkish baths, swimming pools and gymnasiums designed in the same style as those on the original ship.

On returning to their cabins they will be able to put on clothes in the fashions of the early 20th century. According to Mr Palmer, 40,000 people have so far expressed interest in sailing on Titanic II, with 35% of inquiries coming from China.

Though ticket prices haven't been set, several customers have said they'd be willing to pay as much as $1m (£665,000) for a seat on the maiden voyage, claimed James McDonald of Blue Star Line, the company behind the initiative.

The ship will carry 900 crew and 2,400 passengers and those behind the ambitious project have insisted that the liner will be equipped with advanced technologies – as well as more than enough lifeboats.

The original and 'unsinkable' Titanic set sail from Southampton on April 15, 1912, bound for New York City.

She hit an iceberg in the Atlantic and sank, killing 1,523 passengers and crew.

The history of the voyage is well known in China because of the popularity of the 1997 film staring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. It was one of the first western films to be authorised for general release in China and it remains one of the top three most popular films.

Celine Dion, who sang the film's title song, became the first foreigner to perform at this year's traditional Chinese New Year Gala which is televised across the country. She chose to sing the song from the film, My Heart Will Go On.

Factfile

A third-class ticket for the maiden voyage of the ill-fated Titanic cost £3, the equivalent of £196 today. A first-class ticket was £870 – £54,861 in today's money. Fans have been offering more than £600,000 for a seat on a replica of the original Belfast-built ship which is due to set sail from Southampton to New York in 2016. Titanic II is the ambitious project of an Australian mining billionaire

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