There are plans to create a five-star Titanic-themed hotel at the old headquarters of the Belfast shipyard, Harland and Woolf, where the doomed liner was built.
If the planning application goes through, there will be a 90-bedroom boutique hotel at Queen’s Island in the east of the city with a swimming pool, gym and spa facilities. It will form part of a redevelopment of 185 acres of former shipyard land.
The area is already known as the Titanic Quarter in memory of the liner which sank on its maiden voyage in 1912 with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.
A spokesman for the developers, Titanic Quarter Ltd, said: “Given the enormous global interest in the Titanic and the building’s close association with the ship, such a hotel will add to the Northern Ireland tourist experience.”
Northern Ireland’s capital, for so long blighted by sectarian violence, is now mostly at peace and welcoming tourists from all over the world. The recent Tall Ships Festival attracted 500,000 visitors in three days to the Belfast waterfront and developers believe the Titanic plan will draw around 400,000 people a year.
by Andy Moreton
Like many other people, I’ve always had a fascination with the Titanic, but I’m not sure it stretches to going on a cruise to recreate the ship’s maiden (and final) voyage.
It’s been announced that the cruise liner Balmoral will set sail from Southampton on April 8th 2012 to follow the exact route of the Titanic to commemorate the 100th anniversary of its sinking.
The passengers will enjoy the same menus as their Titanic predecessors, while music and dancing will also be from the era. Titanic experts will give lectures during the voyage.
A memorial ceremony will be held at the exact location where the Titanic sank in the early hours of April 15th 2012, claiming the lives of 1,517 passengers and crew. The journey will then continue to Halifax, Nova Scotia - the final resting place of many who were on board - before sailing on to New York, the doomed liner’s planned destination.
Will there be a rush for this rather sombre cruise? A spokesman for Miles Morgan Travel, which has chartered the Fred Olsen cruise liner for the voyage, is convinced there will be. “The Titanic still grips the imagination of people throughout the world and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a unique cruise packed with interest for those with a fascination for the Titanic story.”
The Balmoral will carry 1,309 paying passengers – the same number that travelled on the fateful Titanic voyage. The 12-night cruise, including flights back to the UK, will cost between £2,595 ($4,100) and £7,995 ($12,700). Details at www.titanicmemorialcruise.co.uk
Soon after the announcement of the memorial voyage came news that the last remaining survivor of the disaster, Millvina Dean, had died, aged 97. She was two months old at the time and survived in a lifeboat with her mother and brother. Her father died.
by Andy Moreton