Aboard the Intrepid in Manhattan on Tuesday, Professor Clive Palmer, along with representatives from Finnish marine consultant Deltamarin, announced the Titanic II project was taking shape and the official signing of a construction contract with a Chinese shipyard could happen as soon as next week.
Palmer and Blue Star Line currently have a memorandum of understanding with CSC shipyard for the 2,435-passenger vessel.
The ship, built as a modern version to the original specs, but meeting current SOLAS rules, will be run under the Blue Star Line, the cruise company created by mining tycoon Palmer to operate the Titanic II.
“We will complete the original journey and sail into New York,” said Palmer, at a packed press conference, who added that over 40,000 people have registered for updates to buy tickets online.
As far as financing goes, Palmer dodged questions on the price of the project, but stressed he was using his own money. The yard, CSC, is also building four 60,000-ton bulk carriers for the Australian billionaire.
“I’m not going to divulge cost, this is not about money, I can pay for this,” he said, adding: “We have a big pile of money and will keep spending it until we get there.”
The 56,000-ton ship is small by cruise industry standards, said Markku Kanerva, director of sales for Deltamarin – the company contracted by Palmer to design the ship.
“We have three pods instead of six propellers so the ship is a bit different, but will have the old stern frame,” said Kanerva, talking to Cruise Industry News. “It will have much higher maneuverability than the original ship and less vibration with the pods.”
The hull has been designed with crossings in mind, efficiently formed to operate between 18 and 23 knots, with a maximum speed of 24 knots.
In addition, the ship has space for two scrubbers, and radar masts are hidden in the front false funnels, but that may depend on suppliers being able to meet technical requirements.
Engine configurations are traditional, with a diesel-electric powerplant with four main engines.
The engineering firm has built several computer models of the ship, and Kanerva confirmed that it will go beyond all current rules, and meet the Safe Return to Port requirements.
The keel is set to be laid later this year, Palmer said, and delivery is scheduled, thus far, for the third quarter of 2016.
The Chinese Navy has been invited to escort the ship to Southampton from Shanghai, and Palmer hoped that the British Navy would escort her to New York.
Furthermore, he added that there are ongoing discussions with major corporate sponsors for the initial voyage, to have flags flying off the mast as the ship makes her way into the harbor.
While the original ship took six years to design, this one has taken just one year – with modern lifeboats and an added deck, along with three pods for propulsion – according to specs released from Deltamarin. The extra deck also includes a casino and theater.
The ship will not be void of the class system – with first, second and third class accommodations, with period-specific clothes (as if it were 1912) available in each cabin.
Palmer said he is planning a ticket package offering a six-day crossing composed of two days in each class.
Staterooms will not have TVs and internet is “still being debated.” The Titanic II is set to mainly ply the North Atlantic on crossings, Palmer explained, but said the ship would be available for other cruises as well.