An Australian billionaire named Clive Palmer has apparently decided to tempt fate by building a full-sized, working replica of the Titanic. Already, 40,000 people have expressed an interest in attending the vessel’s maiden voyage in 2016. Not only will the ship take the same route as the original Titanic on the night of April 15, 1912, but passengers will also be expected to don period fashions and eat the same menu served aboard the doomed ship. The ship will even be divided into different classes just like the original, where the rich bask in luxury and the poor find themselves crammed into steerage — and tickets won’t be cheap, with potential passengers already offering up to $1 million to reserve a spot.
As if the entire concept wasn’t tasteless enough on its own, in a news conference earlier this year, Palmer joked that due to global warming, the voyage should go off without a hitch, saying, “There are not so many icebergs in the North Atlantic these days.” Perhaps to try to make it seem like less of a sick publicity stunt, he’s even found the descendent of a Titanic survivor to endorse the project: Helen Benziger, the granddaughter of Colorado legend Molly Brown. Hopefully this project won’t spark a wave of interest in disaster-themed tourist getaways — one can only imagine what might result if someone decided to build a Chernobyl-themed hotel or reenact the flight of the Hindenburg.
For what it’s worth, it does seem that Palmer’s cruise ship company, Blue Star Line, is taking safety on the upcoming ocean journey seriously. The ship has been in production since 2012, and models are currently undergoing rigorous testing ensure that the Titanic II is up to modern speed and safety standards while maintaining the old-fashioned charm of the original. A few of the minor alterations to the original blueprint include a modern hospital, helicopter landing pad, full air-conditioning, high-speed internet access, and, of course, lots and lots of lifeboats.