The RMS Titanic is being brought back from the deep, more than a century after its ill-fated maiden voyage, at a landlocked Chinese theme park where tourists can soon splash out for a night on a full-scale replica.
The project’s main backer was inspired to recreate the world’s most infamous cruise liner by the 1997 box office hit of the same name — once the world’s top-grossing film and wildly popular in China.
The original luxury vessel, the largest of its time and branded “unsinkable” by its owners, has become a byword for hubris ever since it plunged into the depths of the Atlantic in 1912 after striking an iceberg, leaving more than 1,500 people dead.
Su Shaojun, a Chinese investor who funded the replica, said that he was motivated to finance the audacious, 260m ship to keep memories of the Titanic alive.
“I hope this ship will be here in 100 or 200 years,” Su said. “We are building a museum for the Titanic.”
It has taken six years — longer than the construction of the original vessel — as well as 23,000 tonnes of steel, more than 100 workers and a hefty 1 billion yuan (US$153.5 million) price tag.
Everything from the dining room to the luxury cabins and even the door handles are styled on the original Titanic.
It forms the centerpiece of a Sichuan Province theme park more than 1,000km from the sea. The site features a replica of the Port of Southampton seen in the 1997 disaster epic, directed by James Cameron, where Leonardo DiCaprio’s fictional character, Jack, swings on board after winning his ticket in a bet.
Tour buses play the film’s theme tune, Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On, on repeat.
It costs up to 2,000 yuan to spend one night on the ship for the “five-star cruise service,” Su said, adding that with a functioning steam engine, guests would feel that they are really at sea.
He was so excited by the challenge that he sold his energy industry assets, including a stake in several hydropower projects, to invest in his Titanic.
However, even before opening, the replica has drawn plenty of controversy.
Online users have questioned whether the famous ship would attract tourists given the disaster that struck its real-life inspiration. Others feared that it would join other ambitious Chinese building projects that turned into white elephants — including a 2008 replica of the USS Enterprise, a US aircraft carrier, which cost more than US$18 million and was abandoned shortly after it opened.
Su hopes that as many as 5 million annual visitors will come to see his Titanic.
“This tourist volume should guarantee the return of our investment,” he added.
Xu Junnian, who manages the project, said that he felt it was important to preserve the vessel’s memory.
“The greatest significance of building this ship is to carry forward and inherit the great spirit of Titanic,” he said.
Aside from the enduring appeal of the Hollywood blockbuster, the Titanic has over the past few weeks stolen headlines in China with the release of a new documentary called The Six.
The film tells the story of a group of Chinese travelers on board when the ship sinks, of whom six survived.
However, the developers are hoping to rope in some bigger names to help draw visitors.
“We’d like to invite Jack, Rose and James Cameron to the inauguration ceremony,” Su said.
Offering Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccines to the public in Singapore for the first time since Friday, several private clinics reported overwhelming demand for the Chinese-made shot, despite already available rival vaccines having far higher efficacy. Singapore has vaccinated almost half its 5.7 million population with at least one dose of the vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Both have shown efficacy rates of well over 90 percent against symptomatic disease in clinical trials, compared with Sinovac’s 51 percent. Earlier this week, officials in Indonesia said that more than 350 medical workers have caught COVID-19, despite being vaccinated with Sinovac and dozens have been
When COVID-19 arrived in India, few places looked as vulnerable as Mumbai. However, a year on, South Asia’s most crowded city has surprised many by tackling a vicious second wave of the virus with considerable success. Gaurav Awasthi even traveled hundreds of kilometers from his home on the outskirts of Delhi to get his ailing wife a hospital bed there, paying an ambulance more than US$1,000 to drive 24 hours straight. “I cannot ever repay my debt to this city,” the 29-year-old said, recounting an ordeal that saw him spend five days fruitlessly searching for a bed across several cities, including Delhi.
CROWDED HOSPITALS: Deaths have begun to pick up as the COVID-19 hospitalization rate exceed 70 percent in 87 cities across the country, government data showed Indonesia’s COVID-19 cases are nearing 2 million, with hospitals starting to fill up as the country grapples with the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus. The government confirmed 13,737 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 1.99 million. Deaths have begun to pick up as the COVID-19 hospitalization rate exceed 70 percent in 87 cities across the country, with 371 people dying from the disease on Sunday — the worst since April, government data showed. “Because this is concentrated in certain regencies and cities, we can still mobilize resources from other areas,” Indonesian National Nurses Association chairman Harif Fadhillah said. “If
NEW APPROACH NEEDED? The royals, despite seeing themselves as above politics, are under tremendous pressure to urge parliament to reconvene, an expert said Malaysia’s royal leaders were to meet yesterday amid growing public anger over the Malaysian government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic during a state of emergency that has left democracy suspended for a year. The meeting, to be chaired by Malaysian King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah at 2:30pm, comes as daily COVID-19 infections averaged about 5,800 in the past seven days, nearly double than when Malaysia declared emergency rule in January. “The issue now is whether the emergency, which is set to end Aug. 1, should be continued,” Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, the head of the ruling United Malays National Organization’s youth wing,