'Titanic II' cruise plan prompts scepticism


IRISH CRUISE specialists have a bad feeling about plans by an Australian billionaire to offer cruises on a replica of the Titanic.

Mining magnate Clive Palmer said yesterday he had signed a memorandum of understanding with state-owned Chinese company CSC Jinling Shipyard to build the Titanic II.

He said the maiden voyage would be in late 2016 and would travel from England to New York, just like its namesake had planned. The Chinese navy has been invited to escort the ship.

The announcement comes weeks after the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. More than 1,500 people died after the liner hit an iceberg in the north Atlantic, on its maiden voyage.

“It will be every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic, but will have state-of-the-art 21st-century technology and the latest navigation and safety systems,” Mr Palmer said in a statement.

The design of the Titanic II would be as close to the original as possible and the ship would have the same dimensions as its predecessor, with 840 rooms and nine decks, he said. The diesel-powered ship would have four smoke stacks, like the coal-powered original, but they would be purely decorative.

Mr Palmer said the main differences between the two ships would be below the water line. “Titanic II will be the ultimate in comfort and luxury with on-board gymnasiums and swimming pools, libraries, high class restaurants and luxury cabins,” Mr Palmer said.

The plan received a lukewarm response from Irish travel agents who specialise in cruise holidays.

John Galligan said: “It sounds like the Orient Express experience, but are you really going to get more than 1,800 people a week taking the transatlantic cruise? I’d be sceptical about it.”

Tom Britton of Kilkenny-based Cruise Paradise said he suspected the announcement was a publicity stunt.