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February 27, 2013

Sex on the High Seas

By Chris Boyle

Leonardo do Caprio & Kate Winslet in Titanic

Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet steaming up the windows of a vintage car in the hold as James Cameron’s RMS Titanic met its fate brought a legend back to life for an entirely new generation.

Sexual scandal of course was part of the actual maiden voyage. John Jacob Astor, America’s richest man at the time of his death in the icy Atlantic, was aboard with his 18-year-old and pregnant second wife. As an analogy, divorce at the time was akin to today having your private sex video go public. The widowed Mrs. Astor would re-marry twice more, the final time to an Italian boxer, 14 years her junior. Today I think she would be referred to as a ‘cougar.’

Sex, the Seas and the Super Rich have been part of my career in journalism. Many years ago when I was Publisher of Travel Agent Magazine I attended a press conference held by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines for a “major announcement”. The “big news” turned out to be research the line had conducted that getting out on the high seas sent one’s libido racing, in some cases to the life boats.

With Prince & Associates, we conducted for Elite Traveler a survey of over 600 private jet owners. It turned out while women said multiple millions made for “higher-quality sex” by a 93% to 59% margin, men said being rich resulted in “more frequent sex” by a 75% to 27% margin. By the way, women said lots and lots of money made for a “more adventurous and exotic sex life” by an 80% to 43% margin. Like the cruisers surveyed by Royal Caribbean, it turns out in our private jet owner survey passions were running high as both men and women agreed (approximately 80%) that “sex is very or extremely important.”

Fast forward to last night, less than a mile from where the real Titanic was supposed to dock in New York at the end of her maiden voyage 101 years ago. Over 1,000 New Yorkers were feted by Australian mining and resort mogul Clive Palmer aboard the USS Intrepid. Guests were served a lavish dinner from a menu of Titanic’s First Class as Palmer launched a worldwide tour to promote Titanic II under the flag of his Blue Star Line.

The ship is soon to begin construction in China and due to make its maiden voyage in 2016.  Aboard the Intrepid, men were dressed in their finest black tie and tails closely resembling how Astor and other titans of the Universe spent their final evening. Women were much more provocatively attired – au courant for today.

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Titanic II will feature three classes like the original, and based on the images being shown, the interiors will closely resemble the legend, down to long communal tables in the Third Class Dining Hall. No telling if you will find a model playing the role of Leo dancing the jig, although on this evening a Captain Smith impersonator led a dance line singing “New York, New York” and then enticed Palmer and plenty of ladies in a steamy conga line of well served guests.

Palmer – whose fortune is estimated somewhere between $4 billion and just under $1 billion – focused less on sex in his remarks, although he did promise that Titanic II guests would find “all of your dreams will come true.”

Promotional material however seems to position the new grand vessel as a great place to hold a meeting offering “travel in style in an ‘Owner’s Suite or first, second and third class accommodations for your VIP clients or best performing employees.”

Apparently there will also be room for marketing your company: “Boost brand awareness and personal connection through naming one of the luxurious facilities aboard the ship.”

Unlike the original Titanic, Number Two will have plenty of lifeboats which as I learned from the Royal Caribbean research means even more opportunities to get frisky on the high seas. While some of the party-goers questioned the financial numbers behind Palmer’s business plan (a single ship cruise line), based on the research I am familiar with it sounds like a winning formula – or at least a memorable company meeting. Palmer didn’t ask for my suggestions, but perhaps the tag line could be, “What happens on Titanic, stays on Titanic.”

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