It used to be accessible to deep-sea scientists and James Cameron alone, but in 2020 anyone will be able to visit the Titanic. Two companies, OceanGate and Bluefish, are now offering curious passengers a ride to the bottom of the ocean. It's a once-in-a-lifetime adventure—as long as you have around $150,000 to spare.
The enterprise is taking disaster tourism to new heights, giving eager adventurers a chance to view the most famous shipwreck in history. Renewed interest in the Titanic surfaced after scientists announced that the ocean liner is disintegrating at an alarming rate. Some predictions put its complete disappearance as little as 20 years from now. Unfortunately for most of us, the cost of travel bars us from ever seeing the luxury cruiser.
But say you can swing the mighty price of a ticket—what will you see once you’re down there? Let’s explore.
As rust and underwater bacteria eat away at the ship’s hull and interior structure, they reveal previously unseen rooms. This means that explorers could discover something new among the lost treasures of the wreck. Historians estimate that there are thousands of personal items belonging to the 1,500 passengers that no one has seen since the ship set sail. Perhaps even more wondrous to behold is the rust itself, which hangs from the ship like a coat of deep-sea icicles.
Once you reach the bottom of the ocean, a 3,800-meter descent that takes five hours, what you see will surprise you.
That is, the Titanic, touted as the grandest passenger in the world when it was built, looks small compared to today’s cruise ship monoliths. Since it hit the sand in 1912, ocean bacteria have slowly been eating away at the wreck. Furthermore, treasure hunters and explorers have been taking mementos away with them since the site's discovery in 1985. However, because it lies in international waters, the pillaging of the sunken ship is impossible to stop. A quick search on eBay shows that you, too, can own a piece of Titanic history.
Though 1,500 people went down with the ship, only 347 of them have been found—none of them in the wreck itself. Rescue crews found bodies floating in a 50-mile-wide perimeter in the weeks after the crash, but the other 1,153 remain lost at sea.
Some were likely carried far away by underwater currents. Divers have found clothes and shoes, but no bodies. Some of the unfortunate deceased may still be trapped in the unreachable depths of the ship, such as the engine room.
In case you can’t pony up the dough for the full tour, there are other ways to see the incredible ship.
A virtual visit to the Titanic
Don your virtual reality headset as TitanicVR leads you through an immersive recreation of the voyage. You'll follow one family as they board, set sail, and then fight over lifeboats in this digital reenactment that you can also view on a screen if you don't have a VR set lying around.
You can also take a 3D tour of the ship by typing "Titanic" into Google Earth. Just don't ask for direction on how to get there.
Of course, a viewing of the melodramatic, but technically accurate, movie from 1997 is always just a click away. The tragic story of the ship lingers on in public memory in large part thanks to James Cameron's film.
Whether you go via submarine or screen, a visit to the Titanic is easier than ever.