Clearly billionaire Clive Palmer isn't afraid of offending the gods – or anyone else, for that matter. When you have enough money, any old idea sounds good, even if that idea includes building a perfect replica of the ill-fated Titanic, a death trap for more than 1,500 people, and then recreating its doomed maiden voyage, complete with a costume party.
Could you really walk around that cruise ship dressed up like Kate Winslet and not fall asleep worrying about an iceberg lurking in the dark? Maybe it's my Nova Scotian roots, but every sailor worth their salt knows that's just tempting fate. This guy learned it the hard way.
But even if it's tacky and ghoulish, Palmer has plenty of company – people have been making money off tragedy as long as there's been money to make. Hollywood is the most egregious perpetrator: Director James Cameron started raking it in the moment the young lovers played by Winslet and Leonardo diCaprio fogged up the window in the car parked in the belly of the movie's Titanic.
And on the notion of naming a boat after a sunken one, it's fair to say that Nova Scotians have a tricky argument – the province is, after all, about to set sail on a restored Bluenose II, a replica of the original that struck a reef off Sable Island and sunk. One could argue, though, that this case is different, at least in degree – namely, everyone got off the famous schooner, which was at the time humbled into grunt work as a cargo vessel, so the tragedy was confined to the ship itself. What's more, the Bluenose was carrying bananas – and everyone knows that's bad luck. (To cover the bases, as tradition dictates, two lucky coins were inserted into the masts of the restored Bluenose II when they were set in place last October.)
To be fair, superstitions come and go, though the crab fishermen on Deadliest Catch still refuse to accept suitcases on board, and many sailors would still consider it unlucky to change the name of a boat.
But the notion of another Titanic sailing the high seas just feels creepy. Palmer is already saying he has eager prospective passengers willing to pay up to $1-million a ticket to board his Titanic. The vessel, he vowed, will have enough lifeboats. And he wasn't so foolish as to declare it unsinkable. "Anything will sink if you put a hole in it," he said. Besides, "one of the benefits of global warming is there's not as many icebergs in the North Atlantic," he said.
The idea is receiving mixed reviews online and a fair share of mocking. As some have aptly observed: Hasn't the cruise ship industry been jinxed enough in the past year? And on the CNN website (with a story headlined Man Overboard?) one reader suggested that Palmer may have trouble finding good crew for his endeavour.
Would you buy a ticket for the Titanic II?