in category of Bad News Suz, Suz Baldwin

It’s probably a sad commentary on the state of society today that the words Titanic II make people wonder how James Cameron got Leonardo DiCaprio to agree to a sequel.

For those of you out there who aren’t sure what’s real and what’s not, there was a ship called Titanic that struck an iceberg and sank on April 15, 1912. Coincidentally, April 15 has become one of the most hated days of the year thanks to the evil forces of the income tax and the IRS.

Anyway, Clive Palmer, an Australian billionaire, recently let slip that he’s commissioned a Titanic replica that will set sail in 2016. He’s having it built in a Chinese shipyard. I guess Harland & Wolff didn’t want to rehash old designs.

The Daily Mail quotes Palmer as saying, “Titanic II will be the ultimate in comfort and luxury with on-board gymnasiums and swimming pools, libraries, high class restaurants and luxury cabins.” The article goes on to describe the ship as an exact replica aside from the hardware that makes it go, and some minute construction differences to make it more efficient and safer at sea.

But that’s where his train of thought loses me a little bit. Yes, 90 percent of the world’s population is fond of Titanic, the movie, even if they won’t admit it to anyone. Assuming this ship even gets built – plans to build replicas have been scrapped in the past – it will probably enjoy a couple years of healthy commerce thanks to interest in the movie and the wreck. But after that, people are going to realize...well...a Titanic-type ship is kind of boring.

There, I said it. If he’s going for an exact replica of the liner, we’re going to have one very small gymnasium (with some fun gym equipment), a squash court, and a rather small swimming pool. The latest cruise ships out there have freaking water slides. Maybe they can attach one to one of the non-functioning and therefore decorative funnels? And can we talk about the disparity between first, second, and third class? Are we going to be barred from using the nicer dining rooms just because we got a dirt-cheap steerage ticket? There’s no theater. Yes, the Grand Staircase is beautiful, but when can we go dancing? Wait, we can’t? What about the cargo hold? Maybe we can convert that space into something interesting.

You guys are aware of the bathroom situation on the Titanic, right? A few of the first-class cabins and some of the officers’ cabins had their own, but for the most part, groups of staterooms shared restrooms. Are people really going to pay thousands of dollars for a ticket to share three stalls with a dozen other travelers?

You can see why I’m skeptical about an exact replica.

The other option here is that Mr. Palmer decides to go all first class and just creates a shrine to Edwardian excess. Gorgeous woodwork everywhere (fire hazard!), restrooms for everyone, and sumptuous feasts every night. Which is great, as long as he’s not passing it off as an exact replica.

I know I sound like I’m slamming the entire effort. I’m not really trying to do that; I am a huge fan of the old superliners – I read Exploring the Titanic by Dr. Robert Ballard at age seven, and ended up doing my thesis on the Lusitania’s sinking. In all honesty, though, I don’t know that a replica vessel would appeal to today’s potential cruisers beyond serving as a fleeting novelty; I’m guessing they’re going to compromise on a lot of stuff, and we’ll wind up with a ship that looks like the Titanic, at least on the outside, but has many modern amenities on the inside.

Hell, that’ll be enough for me. I’m  not a fan of the big cheesebox cruise ships floating around today. We could use a lean Edwardian looker to change things up.



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