Billionaire Clive Palmer has released plans for Titanic II, a "full-scale recreation" of the iconic ship that sunk while crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 1912, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,500 people.
The idea will stoke the imaginations and open the wallets of a generation raised on the classic James Cameron film "Titanic," but it is can also be seen as a supremely insensitive move, considering that the original Titanic became a floating death trap when it hit an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland.
The design plans for Titanic II were released Tuesday to great fanfare by the Australian mogul, who told USA Today that he has been inundated with positive feedback about the concept and that leads him to believe it "will be a real financial bonanza" so popular he will "have to build Titanic III."
There is little doubt that recreating a luxury cruise liner that figures so prominently in the fantasies of legions of travelers could produce windfall profits for Palmer, but that doesn't mean it is a good idea.
The ship will be built in China over the next few years in accordance with a blueprint he unveiled Tuesday at a press conference at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City, USA Today reported, and is slated to embark on its maiden voyage in the third quarter in 2016.
At 883 feet, the Titanic II will be 3 inches longer than the original, and it will weigh in at 55,800 gross tons, Palmer said. It will be able to hold up to 2,435 passengers, who will be treated to a range of luxuries, including Turkish baths, a squash court, a pool, a theater, a casino and a gym.
But this is not your average mega-ship. This is the Titanic II, a replica of a boat that will forever be remembered as the floating grave of hundreds of people. The reasoning that it "will be a real financial bonanza" does a serious disservice to the memories of those folks whose lives were cut short in the icy waves.
It's similar to building "can't-lose" condos on an Indian burial ground. OK, maybe it's not that bad. Maybe it's more like selling price-gouged 9/11 memorabilia at Ground Zero. Or making millions off a movie about the Holocaust. Or the public propelling "The Dark Knight Rises" to epic ticket sales out of a morbid obsession with seeing Heath Ledger's ghost dressed up as a crazed murderer a few months after he died. Or just plain exploiting a tragedy for monetary gain -- in this case explicitly stated.
But almost definitely, none of that will matter when the sunblock-soaked cruisers start lining up at the gangway for tickets to recreate the final moments of the love of Kate Winslet's life, Leonardo DiCaprio (or Rose Dewitt BuKater's beau, Jack Dawson, or whoever) on board a behemoth that will generate massive profits as a result of an enduring fascination with the massive loss of life that was the first Titanic's tragic demise.
And so, it's impossible to say just how bad of an idea Titanic II is. So let's just say it definitely isn't the most respectful business model on the high seas.