The six-year saga of the Titanic II continues. Clive Palmer, the Australian mining tycoon and politician behind the project, has controversially announced that the European headquarters of his Blue Star Line cruise company will be based in Paris as of 2019, rather than London as originally planned – with the blame rested at the feet of Brexit.
"It is of little use having a European headquarters outside Europe,'' Palmer said in a statement in Brisbane on Monday. "The decision will mean we won't open our European office until March 2019", he continued, "with Paris being ideally placed to suit the company's needs," the Daily Telegraph reports.
News of Palmer's plan to build Titanic II first surfaced back in 2012. At the time of the initial announcement, the billionaire's escapades were prolific in the Australian national press and no one took the revelation particularly seriously. Especially given the rather rambling and mildly comical nature of the announcement.
"It will be a ship of peace,'' he said at the time. "We will complete the journey. We will sail into New York. On the ship that they designed. That they envisaged.
"Titanic comes from a time when the world was different", his love letter to the past continued. "When there was a different culture, different ways of living. When people worked with each other more. And as James Cameron reminds us... my heart will go on.
"By learning from the lessons of the past, the spirit of Rose and Jack... lives in all of us.'' Who knew?
Ever the eccentric, Palmer created the Palmer United Party and was elected (in a Trump-like triumph that left the nation more than a little surprised) as a MP back in 2013. He quickly became known for sleeping through question time and turning up to parliament in his silver Bentley.
Palmer then went on to open the eponymous 'Palmersaurus' dinosaur park in December 2013 within the grounds of the Palmer Coolum Resort in Queensland. On TripAdvisor it is currently ranked #9 out of 10 things to do in the town of Coolum Beach, with 33 per cent of visitors rating the experience as "terrible''.
Indeed, a recent review suggests the attraction, while still listed on TripAdvisor, has now been abandoned. Which doesn't bode terribly well for Titanic II...
So when is the maiden voyage?
Titanic II was supposed to set sail for an inaugural voyage, departing from England and arriving in New York, by the end of 2016.
Applications were even received for the post of Captain back in May 2013. Guinness might want to check in with Palmer – this may well be the world's longest running job advert.
Plans stalled in 2015 due to financial difficulties, but Palmer announced that the build was back on last month. Now the two-week maiden voyage will apparently be from Dubai to the UK, before the ship begins its regular service, flitting back and forth between Southampton and the Big Apple, retracing the route of the original ship.
"Titanic II is a unique project that will generate unprecedented international exposure and public interest," he said in a statement issued from London in September. "The ship will follow the original journey, carrying passengers from Southampton to New York. But she will also circumnavigate the globe, inspiring and enchanting people while attracting unrivalled attention, intrigue and mystery in every port she visits.
"In 1912 the Titanic was the ship of dreams. For over a century Titanic's legend has been powered by mystery, intrigue and respect for all she stood for. Millions have dreamt of sailing on her, seeing her in port and experiencing her unique majesty. Titanic ll will be the ship where those dreams come true."
Blue Star Lines is reportedly ready to spend $500m making that dream reality.
A project of passion
If it wasn't already abundantly clear, this is very much a labour of love for Palmer.
"We've all been in love", he told AFP reporters in 2013. "I've been in love, I'm in love at the moment. And if you're not in love you long to be in love. What's wrong with love? It's very, very easy to make war - we have armies, we have navies, we have air forces - but it's a lot harder to make peace.
"And by taking Titanic II, by recreating that... we've built it with a concept of love that we all want. And that's what's common to man - in China, in Europe and the United States. And that's why it has got such universal appeal."
If he hadn't made his fortune mining Australia's natural resources he could have been a poet.
There will be three classes
Palmer is not, it appears, a fan of classless society. The three original classes will remain. And they will not be allowed to mingle. Authenticity is key.
The good news though is that he is hoping to charge passengers less than the cost of a first-class journey on the original Titanic, which would be about £50,000 today.
"I'm sure we can do better than that," he said. "But [if not] go third class, that's where I'll be – that's where the fun will be."
Lifeboats won't be an issue
The original Titanic, carrying 2,224 passengers and crew, was sunk after hitting an iceberg during its maiden voyage on April 15 1912. It had 16 wooden lifeboats which accommodated just 1,178 people – a third of the total capacity.
The new ship will be able to carry 2,435 passengers and 900 crew. Crucially it will have lifeboats that can carry 2,700 and life rafts with an additional capacity of 800.
Palmer said Titanic II would include safety chutes and slides to make it compliant with modern regulations.
But it will be as close to the original as possible
Computer generated images of Titanic II revealed how faithful the replica will be to the original design features, with amenities including Turkish baths, an Edwardian gym, a squash court and a small swimming pool.
But they may have to re-think the First Class smoking rooms and the pool being filled with heated salt water from the ocean.
Palmer has suggested that there will be no televisions or internet access, and said that passengers will be provided with period clothing should they wish to dress up. No doubt according to their class and station, of course.
So there won't be any mod cons?
Apparently not. Oh, apart from the air conditioning. And the hospital. And while television and Wi-Fi is out of the question (they got by without it back in the day), a helipad is, apparently, imperative.
There will be other changes necessary to meet today's more stringent requirements. The ship's navigational control centre (known as the Bridge) will be modified in compliance with the latest regulations and technology, while some features will be replicated for historical significance and not have a functional purpose.
The Titanic's original radio room – installed with a "state of the art" Marconi system, which allowed the vessel to communicate with ships on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean – will also be surplus to requirements. However, it will not be omitted but rather act as a historical replica and not a functioning radio room.
Tickets on the maiden voyage may be pricey
Some wealthy Americans had reportedly offered up to $1 million each for the chance to join the inaugural cruise from Southampton to New York.
This isn't the only Titanic replica being built
Sorry Palmer, but you've got some serious competition. China is building a replica too, and it is scheduled to be finished by the end of this year and open to the public in 2019. The Romandisea Titanic, however, will not be a seafaring vessel. It will instead be permanently docked on the Qi river in Sichuan's Daying county of south-west China. Visitors will be able to wander around the replica, which will include a ballroom, theatre, swimming pool and cabins. There will also be hosted banquets, themed parties and games.
There may be a new movie
"Due to worldwide interest in @titanic—ii I've registered Palmer Pictures. Will look at making a movie about its maiden voyage £titanic," Palmer tweeted in 2013, to much amusement.
He later told the AAP news agency that the movie would be filmed aboard his liner. "It will be a love story," he said (how surprising). "We have a lot of actors from Hollywood, China and Europe who want to star in roles."
Palmer made bold claims that his version will be "a lot better" than James Cameron's 1997 global hit starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and that he wanted to make a cameo. "I could be in a deckchair having a drink". Bold claims from someone who failed to make a success of a dinosaur park.
At the time, Palmer said: "the script is still being worked on and of course we would be seeking major Hollywood stars and production people to be involved in the movie project". There's been no update on the script and he may have to consider re-casting after the hiatus.
So when will Titanic II launch?
Great question. The financial problems that stalled the build have now been resolved in court, and the latest launch date is now 2022. But we wouldn't bank on it, and we wouldn't buy shares.