EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 1, 2013

'Titanic II' a good idea?|Column: Is 'Titanic II' a good idea?

We would have thought the cruise-line industry already provided enough unscripted excitement for their passengers.

The Carnival Triumph was just hauled into port, in Mobile, Ala., after an engine-room fire took out the electricity, running water and AC, leaving some 4,000 sweltering passengers to drift aimlessly in the Gulf of Mexico while a tow was arranged.

Thanks to modern communications like the cellphone, we learned about raw sewage running down the walls of the lower cabins and hourlong waits to get an onion sandwich.

There was, mercifully, no loss of life, only a lot of really grungy passengers who got free bathrobes and other amenities for their suffering.

And a year ago January, the captain of the Costa Concordia, with more than 4,000 aboard, took an unscheduled detour off the coast of Italy and ran aground. Most, but not all, of the passengers were rescued, and the great ship remains stuck.

With all this maritime excitement readily available to the average fun-seeker, it seems a tad excessive for yet another entry into that category of travel known as “Sea Voyages Gone Bad.”

Yet an Australian mining billionaire plans to re-create the ship that was the subject of perhaps the world’s best-known tragedy at sea, Titanic, the great vessel that in April 1912 hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage and sank in the North Atlantic, a disaster that has never lost its hold on the public imagination. More than 1,500 people died in the sinking.

The original Titanic was deemed by the press of the day as “unsinkable” — not a claim that is being made for Titanic II, according to news reports. Financial backer Clive Palmer, speaking to reporters, said with unassailable logic, “I think anything will sink if you put a hole in it.”

The designer of Titanic II called the planned vessel “the most safe cruise ship in the world,” not totally reassuring in view of recent events.

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