Australian mining magnate Clive Palmer’s Blue Star Line has announced that Titanic II, his fully-functioning replica of the famous ocean liner, is still to be launched, but that her first cruise destination has been changed to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Palmer captured the attention and imagination of the cruise industry in 2012 when he first announced the eccentric project. The US $500-million ship was to be built in China and would sail her first cruise in 2016, following the exact course of the ill-fated RMS Titanic.
Since 2013, however, the website of the ship’s owners, Blue Star Line, a company set up by Palmer, has not released any new updates or news releases, and rumours have circulated that the project has been cancelled.
A spokesperson for the Australian businessman and politician this week told the Belfast Telegraph that the project was still underway, but that it had been delayed by two years.
Instead of launching in 2016, Titanic II will now sail in 2018. Her maiden voyage has also been amended, instead of sailing from Southampton to New York, her first fare-paying passengers will instead board in Jiangsu, China and disembark in Dubai, UAE. Blue Star Line told Cruise Arabia & Africa they’re “very excited about Dubai as a destination”.
“The new Titanic will of course have modern evacuation procedures, satellite controls, digital navigation and radar systems and all those things you’d expect on a 21st century ship,” said James McDonald, the global marketing director of Palmer’s company Blue Star Line.
Externally, the ship will be almost identical to RMS Titanic, however, except that her lifeboats will be placed on the first deck of the superstructure, as is now common in modern cruise ship building.
Her engineering will also differ significantly from her infamous ancestor. The ship will be four meters wider in order to meet today’s maritime safety regulations, and the hull will be welded, not riveted.
Like RMS Titanic, Titanic II will offer first, second and third-class tickets and will feature period decor along with Turkish baths, a swimming pool and gymnasiums.
She will feature nine floors and 840 cabins capable of accommodating 2,400 passengers and 900 crew members.
The ship’s maiden cruise has been changed from a Southampton – New York itinerary to a China – Dubai voyage because Blue Star Line has been forging business partnerships in the city, according to McDonald.
“We are not looking for investment from Dubai, as it is a project we are funding ourselves, but we have been in contact with a number of companies based in the Emirates who are looking at utilising opportunities that arises with the project,” McDonald said, suggesting Dubai may become a recurring cruise destination for Titanic II.
“It is people looking to use the opportunity of the trademark and licensing potential of the project… We own the Titanic II name and trademark and people are lining up to be part of it,” he added.
The state-owned Chinese shipyard CSC Jinling has been contracted to build Titanic II. A spokesperson for Blue Star Line declined to say how advanced the building of the ship was, but said it was “on track” for a 2018 launch.