Australian billionaire Clive Palmer, who plans to build a modern replica of the legendary Titanic cruise ship by 2016, has received an “overwhelming” response from people around the world willing to be the first paying passengers.
A half-dozen people have even offered $1 million or more to be on the maiden voyage, officials from Palmer's company Blue Star Line announced at a press conference on Saturday.
"Many people when they think about Titanic II, they think about the romantic story of Rose and Jack, Romeo and Juliet,” said Raymond Tam, Director of Asia Operations for Blue Star Line. “So I am sure many people can associate themselves one way or the other with Titanic. So I guess our target has no limit on boundaries.”
The global launch of the Titanic II project is scheduled for February 26, according to the Blue Star Line website. It will be held in New York on the retired aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, not far from the original Titanic’s would-be port of destination. Details concerning the project are expected to be released at the event.
Preliminary plans and drawings of the Titanic II were revealed in July 2012. The ship is being designed by the Finland-based Deltamarin engineering company, and will be constructed by China's CSC Jinling Shipyard company.
The upgraded version of the world’s most famous cruise liner will have the same dimensions as its ill-fated original: It will be 270 meters long (885 feet), 53 meters high, and will weigh 40,000 tons. The ship will have 840 rooms and nine decks, and retain the first, second and third-class divisions of the original.
However, the replica will also be equipped with cutting-edge technology and the newest navigation and safety systems. The ship will also be wider, its bridge will have greater visibility over the bow, and this time there will be lifeboats for everyone.
Once completed, the Titanic replica will first sail from China to Southampton, and then carry passengers to New York along the original ship’s 1912 route. The Titanic was the world’s largest and most luxurious ocean liner, but it sank 100 years ago during its maiden voyage after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic, killing around 1500 passengers.
Palmer is not the first to set the ambitious goal of recreating the Titanic. In 1998, the same project was announced by South African business mogul Sarel Gous. It was abandoned in 2006 over lack of public interest and investment.