If you've ever fantasized about voyaging across the ocean on the legendary RMS Titanic, but could do without the whole iceberg collision and sinking thing, then boy, does an eccentric billionaire ever have a treat for you! A replica of the doomed ship is set to make her maiden voyage in 2016. What could possibly go wrong?!
Last year, Australian mining tycoon Clive Palmer announced a somewhat insane plan to build Titanic II, an exact replica of the ill-fated luxury liner which sank along with more than 1,500 souls in the mid-Atlantic over one hundred years ago. The extraordinary endeavor seemed like a bit of a long shot at the time (though it was less ambitious than some Titanic-related projects), but this week Palmer surprised many by agreeing to a deal with Chinese shipbuilder Jinling to actually construct a modernized (and hopefully much safer) version of the infamous vessel.
At the time of her launching, Titanic's owners declared the ship unsinkable to drum up press for her maiden voyage -- a claim that would sadly be proven untrue courtesy of a giant North Atlantic iceberg and a number of fatal design flaws. Here's hoping Palmer and company decide against making similar claims about Titanic II.
If all goes according to plan, Titanic II will be completed in 2016 and embark on her maiden voyage shortly thereafter. The ship will offer diehard fans of director James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster "Titanic" a chance to walk in the fictional footsteps of Jack and Rose (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet). Yes, you too will be able to stand atop her bow and declare yourself the king of the world... along with inevitably every other person who boards her.
The original Titanic's fate was one of the most famous disasters of the 20th century. The 1912 calamity has since been the subject of countless books, movies, and television shows, with Cameron's film being by far the most popular of these. To date, the film has grossed nearly $2 billion at the box office worldwide. Palmer's madcap scheme to rebuild the fabled ship is clearly intended to capitalize on the continuing popularity of the movie -- particularly in China, where the seafaring replica is being built. As one of the first Western films to be released in China, "Titanic" was extremely successful in the communist nation. Die-hard Chinese fans have already reportedly offered up to $1 million U.S. for a cabin aboard the still unbuilt luxury liner.
While naming the ship after such an unlucky vessel might strike the more superstitious as a bad idea, the real problem with Titanic II might be where it's being built. The Jinling Shipyard in Nanjing, China has more experience building cargo vessels, which are not required to meet the same rigorous safety standards as passenger ships. Given the developing nation's has a less-than-stellar record when it comes to safety regulation and enforcement, some might be hesitant to take a trip aboard Titanic II.
Personally, though, it's not the ship's name or the place it's being built that scares me; the worst part of this proposition is the idea of being stuck on a ship with Celine Dion's Oscar-winning ballad "My Heart Will Go On" playing on infinite repeat.
It's unknown if Palmer will even be able to raise the required funds to finish the shipbuilding project. South African business mogul Sarel Gous previously tried to build a replica of the Titanic, but the project was cancelled due high costs. Perhaps "Titanic" director James Cameron -- who is nearly as wealthy as Palmer -- will be interested in investing in the ship's construction.
Would you set sail aboard Titanic II, or do you think the whole project is bound to sink?