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]

Life Nomadic: Luxury Cruise Ships at Hostel Prices

When I was a kid, my breakfast cereal of choice was Kellog’s Corn Flakes. The back of the box, which I relied on for breakfast-time entertainmant, sometimes had contests to win cruises on Carnival Cruise lines. I guess advertising works, because since then I had always wanted to go on a cruise.

I had no idea how much cruises cost. I never saw prices advertised, so I assumed that they were like first class air travel – too expensive to actually consider.

As I found out many years later, cruises aren’t expensive at all. In fact, if you know what you’re doing, you can stay and eat on a luxury cruise ship for less than a hostel.The one notable downside to cruise travel is that you only visit each place for one or two days at most. On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about meals, you don’t have to pack and unpack between spots, and the ship is a destination itself.

Before I became a nomad I focused on round trip cruises. Leave out of Houston, cruise around the Caribbean and Central America for a week, and end up back in Houston. Now I use cruises as transportation whenever possible, seeking out one way tickets. That means that the price of the cruise is counting against the plane ticket, meals, and lodging I would have paid otherwise.

The gold standard for a good deal in cruising is fifty dollars a day, including taxes and port charges. Except for a transatlantic on the Queen Mary II, I’ve never paid more than that. You will also have to tip $10 per day total to the waiters, maids, and cabin stewards.

The first place I look for cruise deals is the Cruise Sales on Travelzoo, particularly the exotic cruise section. Exotic is a euphemism for cruises with strange, long, and usually one way routes. This is exactly what I want, but such strange itineraries usualy don’t fit into the standard weeklong vacations that most people go on, so they get seriously discounted.

The next step, once you find the cruise you want, is to go over to Cruise Compete and put in a request. Cruise Compete is an amazing site where cruise agents fight for your business by offering private quotes. These quotes are always cheaper than you’ll find anywhere else, often times by half.

For example, I put in a request today for a 23 day cruise from China through Japan and Alaska to Vancouver. The advertised price on Travelzoo was $1149, but I got a quote for $647. That’s $28 per day, including all fees, for a room, all meals, and entertainment. This particular cruise also happens to be on Princess, which is one of the best cruise lines.

Some of the very best deals can be had during repositioning cruises. Cruise ships tend to migrate, usually across the Atlantic, every fall and spring, and offer very low prices to passengers who want to go on a long cruise with a lot of days at sea. In fact, I’m on a fourteen day from the Dominican Republic to London as you read this.

If you can get past the slightly overdone tackiness on most cruise ships, you’ll really enjoy your time on them. For the partying types there are clubs and bars all over the place, as well as half a dozen pools and hot tubs. Many newer ships have attractions like miniature golf, rock climbing, and even ice skating rinks. I like these things, but my favorite part of being on a ship is getting away from the distractions of cell phones and constant internet access, and finding some peace and quiet to get work done or stare out at the sea and do some thinking.

My next post will be ten tips on getting the most out of your cruise, so start looking for the right one now!