The centenary of its sinking has spawned a 'Titanic' industry


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The Independent Online

Commemorations begin this weekend to mark the centenary of Titanic's tragic maiden voyage. Scores of events will take place; many are well meaning while others appear to be little more than a cynical cash-in on a disaster in which 1,514 people died.

Opening this weekend at the location of the former Harland and Wolff shipyard where the liner was built, the £97m Titanic Belfast will tell the story of the doomed voyage through rides, special effects and animations.

For those who prefer a singalong, Titanic the Musical may just be the ticket. The show, which launched on Broadway in 1997 and which opens in Liverpool in June, "didn't sink" but "soared" according to the official blurb.

In Southampton, the city where Titanic began her fateful voyage, the SeaCity Museum will feature a "disaster room" with hands-on activities. Most of the crew came from Southampton and more than 500 households were said to have lost at least one family member.

If you want to get close to the action, retrace Titanic's departure from Southampton on the Titanic Commemorative Excursion. For £45, the Red Jet boat will leave berth 43/44 – the same spot Titanic departed from.

For film fans, Titanic 3D opens nationwide: same film, same cast, but in 3D. Despite being one of the most cynical cash-in to mark the centenary, no expense was spared in converting the original to 3D.

Not wanting to miss out, the French open Titanic, Return to Cherbourg this month, on the day the liner sailed docked at the French port to pick up passengers. The permanent exhibition will recreate life on the ship through testimonies of those who survived.

In the US, the land-locked city of Atlanta, Georgia, has more to do with the ship than you might think. Colonel John Jacob Astor IV was the founder of the St Regis Hotel and the richest man on Titanic. For £2,060 a night you can stay in the Empire Suite – the same price as a first-class ticket on the ship in 1912.