Travel Scene: Titanic II builders hopeful for happier fate

In this rendering provided by Blue Star Line, the Titanic II is shown cruising at sea. The ship, which Australian billionaire Clive Palmer is planning to build in China, is scheduled to sail in 2016. Palmer said his ambitious plans to launch a copy of the Titanic and sail her across the Atlantic would be a tribute to those who built and backed the original. (AP Photo/Blue Star Line)
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There's a remake in store for the "unsinkable" Titantic, the infamous ship that went down in the Atlantic about 100 years ago with 1,500 passengers.

An Australian billionaire, Cllive Palmer, who has vast holdings in real estate and coal, is funding a new version of the ship that he figures can set sail in 2016. He says some 40,000 persons have expressed interest in sailing the doomed ship's namesake's maiden voyage — which will be the original course of the Titanic from Southampton, England, to New York.

The original Titanic was the world's largest and most luxurious ocean liner when it hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank on April 15,1912. Only some 700 people of the more than 2,200 on board survived the most famous maritime disaster in history.

One of the reasons so few survived was partly because there were not enough lifeboats to carry everyone. Palmer told the Associated Press that global warming — an unknown when the original vessel sailed — may play into a positive for the new ship's fate.

"One of the benefits of global warming is that there hasn't been as many icebergs in the North Atlantic these days," he said at a New York press conference.


The original Titanic was deemed "unsinkable" by its designers. Today's designers, from Finland, say the Titanic II "will be the safest cruise ship in the world." The ship, to be constructed in China, will be built as closely as possible to the original design but meet current navigation and safety requirements.

Additionally, there will be a new "safety deck," featuring state-of-the-art lifeboats, safety chutes and slides. The new ship also will have amenities unknown a century ago, such as air conditioning.

Palmer is estimated in the Australian media to have a net worth of some $4 billion. In explaining his decision to fund construction of the Titanic II, he said, "I want to spend the money I've got before I die. You might as well spend it, not leave it to the kids to spend; there will be enough left for them anyway."


Tickets by the pound

Samoa Air has perhaps become the first airline to begin charging passengers according to their weight, a practice that the head of the airline says is "the fairest way of traveling."

The BBC reports Samoa Air head Chris Langton told Australia's ABC Radio that airlines run on weight, and that smaller aircraft have less variance that they accept in the difference in weight between passengers, which is why the airline began charging by the kilogram.

Each kilogram of weight (about 2.2 pounds) will cost 93 cents to $1 depending on the distance traveled, the airline says.

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