Maritime History Comes To Life With New Titanic

maritime historyMaritime history buffs travel around the planet to see and experience places where ships and the brave crews aboard may have helped to forge a new land and explore the unknown. The naval and passenger ships of yesteryear were an integral part of making the world we know today. Now, taking a step back to the past with an eye on the future, an Australian billionaire is honoring the legacy of Titanic, the ill-fated ocean liner that sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg, in a bold new way.

Last year, the 100-year anniversary of the sinking of Titanic was honored at namesake attractions, museums and events around the world. Adding to the slew of memorials, Australian billionaire Professor Clive Palmer will build a nearly exact replica of Titanic.

Australian billionaire Prof. Clive Palmer,

“This magnificent vessel is to be constructed in memory of the heroic people who served on the ship, the passengers who sadly shared their fate and all those that survived the tragedy,” said Professor Palmer in a Daily Echo report.

To be built in China’s CSC Jinling Shipyard, Titanic II will enter passenger service in 2016 sailing from Southampton, England, to New York City on a route similar to that of the original Titanic – minus the iceberg.Carrying 2,436 passengers, new Titanic II will cast a profile nearly identical to the original at 883 feet long (less than a foot longer than the original), 106 feet wide and have a maximum speed of 24 knots. At 55,800 tons, the new ship will be just 8,000 tons larger but have some important features that the former “unsinkable” version did not. Steam engines will be replaced by diesel electric pop propulsion units and, unlike the original, there will be plenty of lifeboats for all on board.

Staying with the “ship of dreams” motif, Palmer promises his new Blue Star Line will produce a vessel every bit as luxurious as the original White Star Line ship, with some important additions.

“Through the rebuilding of the ship I want to recognize the artists and artisans whose skill, creativity and dexterity has never to this day been fully acknowledged because of the ship’s limited service,” said Palmer.

Honoring the original design, the ship will offer staterooms and public spaces that will be nearly identical to the original Titanic – right down to having no televisions. Palmer is undecided on if the ship will have Internet access available but is adding an additional deck, air conditioning and modern toilets.

Titanic II will also feature a 400-seat theater, casino, shopping, business center, modern medical center and helicopter-landing pad.

Those sailing the new Titanic will have to choose between classes of accommodations, much like the original, or a package that allows them to sample all three classes in one voyage.

Along with nearly duplicate features of the original ship, including Turkish baths and a squash court, Titanic II is set to sail her first voyage in 2016 from Shanghai, China, to Southampton, and then on to New York.




[Photo credit- Blue Star Line]

Queens To Meet In London For Big Event

Buckingham Palance big eventThis June 5 is a big event in the UK as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 60 years on the throne. Cunard Line will bring Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations to a close with the first ever Cunard Royal Rendezvous in the fleet’s home port of Southampton, England.

Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth will be brought within close proximity of each other as a fireworks and special effects display will light up the evening sky. Queen Mary 2 will then lead Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria in single file down the Solent, a strait separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England, as all three ships set out on their celebratory Jubilee voyages.

This is not the first time the three Queens of the Cunard fleet have met. In 2011 they met in New York City, but the first meeting of the three queens was in 2008.

“In January 2008, Cunard Line’s first Rendezvous of their three Queens took place. It was quite exciting as it was the first time Cunard had three ships with Queen in the name and all three were together,” said Stewart Chiron CEO of CruiseGuy.com. “It was the last time for many to see Queen Elizabeth 2, as she would depart the fleet later that year.”

Enrichment programming on board the ships will feature lectures by former BBC Royal correspondent Jennie Bond; Professor Herbert Kerrigan QC, one of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II‘s Counsel in Scotland; and ITN royal commentator Robert Jobson.

Also on board will be a rare collection of Royal art, including watercolors by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and lithographs by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Guests sailing on board Cunard ships will enjoy a Commemorative Dinner followed by a Grand Ball. Cunard will also screen live BBC World News coverage of the celebrations across the fleet beginning at 9:00 a.m. (GMT).



[Flickr photo by micamica]

Five Places To Anchor Yourself In Titanic History

“Titanic” 3D hit cinemas this week just in time to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the ship’s fateful voyage. But the box office isn’t the only place you can pay tribute to the ship. Two new Titanic museums are opening up just in time to celebrate the ship’s anniversary, and there are many other places that are keeping the ship and its passengers’ legacy afloat. Below are some places where stories of the Titanic live on.

Titanic Museum Attraction
Branson, Missouri
You can’t miss the Titanic Museum Attraction in Branson, Missouri mostly because of its massive size and shape (even among all of Branson’s other over-the-top attractions). The exterior is designed to replicate the ocean liner, complete with an iceberg at the museum entrance. Inside, guests receive a “passenger boarding ticket” with the name and story of an actual Titanic passenger (the idea is to find out if you survived or perished through the course of your stay). The museum also has displays about what each class looked like, as well as plenty of authentic Titanic memorabilia including lifejackets, deck chairs and letters. The museum will hold a special musical tribute to the Titanic on Saturday, April 14, the 100th anniversary of the night the ship fatally struck an iceberg. Descendants of actual Titanic passengers are expected to attend and there will be a lighting of an eternal flame during the tribute. The attraction also has a sister museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.Maritime Museum, Southampton
Southampton, England
The goal of this soon-to-be-debuted museum is to tell Southampton’s side of the Titanic story. One of England’s largest passenger ports, the Titanic left from Southampton on its maiden voyage and the city lost 500 residents when the ship sank. The museum will explore the lives of the working-class crew as well as the impact their tragedy had on families back home in Southampton. Visitors follow the careers of cooks, stewards and watchmen, and the tour culminates in a teary-eyed video featuring recordings from survivors.

Titanic Belfast
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Another newbie to the crop of museums is the Titanic Belfast Visitor Center opened last Saturday to celebrate the birthplace of the Titanic. The museum is located in the heart of Belfast on one of the slipways where the ship was built. Now the world’s largest museum dedicated to the Titanic, the $160-million center looks similar to the Sydney Opera House with four prows of the ship jutting out in different directions. The museum houses exhibits where visitors can learn about the construction of the ship as well as the rich story of Northern Ireland’s maritime heritage. At the time of writing, tickets were already sold out through April 16.

Titanic Historical Society Museum
Indian Orchard, Massachusetts
The oldest Titanic museum in the U.S. is the Titanic Historical Society Museum in Massachusetts. At the entrance of the museum visitors are greeted with a 9-foot model of the ship. Inside, Titanic fanatics will find artifacts from the ship and its passengers, many of which were donated by survivors. Highlights include the lifejacket of the wealthy John Jacob Astors, original blueprints of the ship, a rivet from the ship’s hull, a carved oak chair from the ship’s dining room and even the wireless message received by the Titanic that stated the location of the fatal iceberg (it never made it to the bridge of the ship).

The Jane Hotel
New York, New York
For a little slice of Titanic history that is closer to home for many of our readers, stop by the ballroom of the Jane Hotel. Known for small, ship cabin-esque rooms and discount prices, the hotel is actually anchored to the ship’s past. Back when it was known as the American Seaman’s Friend Society Sailors’ Home and Institute, the hotel put up surviving crew members after disaster struck. A private memorial was held in the hotel on April 19, 1912. Today it remains a respite for weary travelers. The hotel will be offering two signature cocktails that commemorate the Titanic anniversary in its ballroom: the Bourbon-based “Unsinkable Molly Brown,” in honor of the only woman to row a boat to safety after the tragedy, and the Champagne-based “ST-705,” named as such for the 705 passengers that survived.

Images (top to bottom) courtesy the Titanic Museum Attraction, Titanic Belfast and The Jane Hotel.

Tudor House Museum reopens in Southampton

Tudor
It’s the quintessential style of English architecture. Tudor buildings simply ooze a sense of history and charm.

The only problem is, they’re a real pain to keep in shape. That’s what the curators of the Tudor House and Garden in Southampton, England, found out during their nine-year restoration. The house, shown above, dates back to the 1490s and while it was obviously well built, five centuries had taken its toll. The house was beginning to shift, threatening to destabilize the whole structure.

TudorNow the whole building has been given a makeover and equipped with state-of-the-art interactive displays to explain what daily life was like back then. The museum reopens today.

If Southampton is not on your itinerary, London has a good Tudor building as well. Prince Henry’s Room, shown to the left, is also being remodeled and will open sometime this year. Built in 1610, it’s a miracle this place is still around. It survived the Great Fire of 1666 and the Luftwaffe during World War Two. It makes for a nice picture if you’re passing along Fleet Street. The restoration crew let me take a peek inside and I can tell you the interior is as attractive as the exterior. We’ll be sure to cover it when it finally reopens.

[Photo of Southampton house courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Photo of Prince Henry’s Room courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

America’s Top 10 Beaches: Coopers Beach in Southampton, NY takes the top spot in 2010

Coopers Beach, Southampton’s stretch of white sand on New York’s Long Island, has been named 2010’s best beach in the America by Dr. Stephen Leatherman.

“New York has world-class beaches, but I don’t think a lot of people in the United States know about them,” said Stephen Leatherman, director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research.

Leatherman cited the fine sand, availability of parking and amenities, and Southampton’s long history as a beach community in his announcement.

Leatherman, aka “Dr. Beach,” announced his Top 10 picks for this year just in time for Memorial Day weekend, as has been his tradition since 1991. The coastal scientist says he uses more than 50 criteria — including water quality, temperature, sand quality, cleanliness, safety and environmental management.

Dr. Beach listed two Florida beaches this year — Siesta Key Beach and Cape Florida State Park — despite the oil spill still leaking in the Gulf of Mexico.

He told the Associated Press that Cape Florida State Park, near Key Biscayne, “doesn’t get the wave activity” that would encourage tar balls to wash ashore. As for Siesta Key, in Sarasota, Leatherman said he studied currents and does not believe the oil will reach the shores in Southwest Florida.

%Gallery-93850%Here are Dr. Beach’s Top 10 Beaches in America for 2010:

  • 1. Coopers Beach in Southampton, New York
  • 2. Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota, Florida
  • 3. Coronado Beach in San Diego, California
  • 4. Cape Hatteras on North Carolina’s Outer Banks
  • 5. Main Beach in East Hampton, New York
  • 6. Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
  • 7. Coast Guard Beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  • 8. Beachwalker Park in Kiawah Island, South Carolina
  • 9. Hamoa Beach in Maui, Hawaii
  • 10. Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne, Florida

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