Clive Palmer, the Australian businessman planning Titanic II, a modern-day replica of the ill-fated passenger liner, is confident it will sail into New York on its maiden commercial voyage in 2016.
This is despite the lack of a formal shipbuilding contract with state-owned Chinese shipyard CSC Jinling, which has no experience building international luxury liners.
"Titanic was a ship of dreams. Titanic II will be a ship where dreams come true," Palmer said in a video presentation in Hong Kong yesterday.
The Blue Star Line chairman said the ship would sail from China to Southampton in England and continue to New York.
Titanic II will have 840 cabins and carry 2,400 passengers in three classes and 900 crew. It will have state-of-the-art navigation and safety equipment.
The Queensland-based billionaire hosted a dinner for about 700 people in Macau last night featuring the same 11-course menu served to first-class passengers the night Titanic sank on April 14, 1912. Palmer and Blue Star Line executives have launched an international marketing and publicity roadshow for Titanic II that includes visits to Hong Kong, Macau, London and New York.
James McDonald, Blue Star marketing director, said while ticket prices had not been fixed about "half a dozen" people had offered "more than US$1 million to go on the maiden voyage".
Asked if Chinese people were keen, McDonald said: "We wouldn't come here if there wasn't interest here." He said that while the ship would operate between Britain and the US, it could also sail to Hong Kong and other destinations in Asia and be rented for corporate events.
Raymond Tam, Blue Star's Asia operations director, gave no indication when a contract would be finalised with CSC Jinling, which has only signed a memorandum of understanding. "Both parties are working very, very hard to finalise the deal," he said. He said the ship's cost, rumoured to be at least US$500 million, and what had been spent were confidential.