Clive Palmer, pictured at left, is building the ‘Titanic II’.
When I first heard about this, I thought it could not possibly be real. But apparently, it is. They’re building a modern day Titanic replica, calling it the Titanic II, and a transatlantic voyage, from Britain to America, is tentatively planned for 2016. The announcement of the forthcoming Titanic II coincided with the April 1912 sinking of the original.
The man behind the effort is an Australian mining mogul Clive Palmer, who once alleged that Greenpeace was a CIA-funded conspiracy to bring down Australia’s coal mining sector. Palmer has apparently gone to great lengths to preserve quite a bit of the original Titanic’s legacy in the century-later re-creation. There will be 840 staterooms on the new ship, with segregated first, second, and third class accommodations. And the blueprints, according to the Brisbane (Australia) Times, are “eerily similar” to the original. The name of the ship will, if nothing else, raise awareness about boating accidents and cruise ship safety. It would seem to be bad luck to name your brand new hot air balloon “Hindenburg II”, but that’s just my personal opinion.
Clive Palmer’s foray into the cruising industry is a part of several larger trends the industry is undergoing as a part of its current evolution to meet customer demand. Cruising started out with smaller ships, and larger ships have become more the rule. Royal Caribbean executives have made a commitment to much larger ships, and until a few years ago Carnival had appeared to be content with slightly smaller ships, apparently indicative of the belief that massive vessels could not be as profitable. That strategy seems as though it may have been overturned, at least partially, with the deployment of Carnival’s new Dream-class vessels, which carry some 5,000 occupants, including crew.
Additional market segmentation in the cruise industry has given rise to a class of ships to which the Titanic II will belong. They’re smaller, more luxurious vessels that offer a more intimate cruising experience, but carry far less passengers. It remains to be seen what the safety ramifications of the return to smaller ships will be. Some boutique cruise ships are carrying 450-900 passengers; the Titantic two will ostensibly hold slightly more than that, but less than the liners of the industry’s major players.
While it’s not clear exactly how much safer—or less safe—the Titanic-class vessels will be than their larger counterparts, boating accidents are not uncommon, as measured by statistics and as seen in the mass media. While many of those accidents are alcohol related recreational vessel accidents with six or fewer passengers aboard, the larger boats do not fare that much better. When you consider the multimillion dollar budget for cruise ship building, and the labor budget that is expended just to keep a ship going for a day, one would think that accidents would be almost totally avoidable. One would think Captains would receive enough training to all but prevent accidents. Same goes for the crew. The reality is, the cruise lines save money wherever they can. The reality is that corporate profits and stakeholder happiness are the first operational priority.
If you feel your own safety has been made “priority number two”, then act quickly after the accident, injury, assault or incident to protect your legal rights. Contact an experienced maritime lawyer as soon as possible after the event.
Photo Credit: Sydney Morning Herald