End of an era for tourist trips to ghostly wreck of Titanic

Story highlights

  • A series of dive expeditions will take tourists to the wreck of the Titanic this summer
  • Enthusiasts can pay $59,000 to reserve a place on one of the dive trips
  • The company running the tours says it is unlikely to do so again

For Titanic enthusiasts, it's a last chance to glimpse the famous cruise liner in its final resting place, a full 100 years after the vessel's tragic demise.

A series of expeditions by marine dive specialists Deep Ocean Expeditions (DOE) will take paying tourists to the wreck site 12,000 feet below the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean in early July.

The British company has been running Titanic tours since 1998 but expedition leader Rob McCallum says the forthcoming trips will likely be their last.

There are currently no other organizations that offer commercial forays to the Titanic, meaning this summer's voyages could also be the last to cater to the paying public.

"We actually finished the Titanic dives in 2005 but it's the centenary year and we had so many requests to make the trip that we decided to do it one more time," says McCallum.

"Now that the last survivor has passed I just think it's time to move on ... we've been to Titanic 197 times and it's time to do other things," he adds.

See also: Deep sea tourism, voyage to the bottom of the sea

Three separate Deep Ocean Expedition (DOE) trips are already fully booked to set sail from Saint Johns, Newfoundland, catering to 20 paying guests a time and lasting for 12 days each.

It will take a day and a half sailing time to reach the dive site and once there lectures will be given to prepare divers for the rigors of the deep sea.

A Mir submersible chartered from the Russian Academy of Sciences -- one of the only vehicles sturdy and technologically advanced enough to reach such depths -- will then make a series of visits to the wreck site.

"Dives take between 10 and 12 hours to complete," says McCallum.

"It takes two hours to get down and two hours to get back. That gives (at least) six hours down on the wreck looking around," he adds.

See also: Did the moon sink the Titanic?

Divers are able explore the outer regions of both the bow and stern sections of the fractured vessel -- which are situated three quarters of a mile apart on the ocean floor -- as well as peer into the ship's inner sanctum, says McCallum.

"It is an emotional experience," he says describing the sight of the Titanic first coming into view.

"It is just such a big vessel. There is something about Titanic in terms of her majesty and her grace. She was the pinnacle of human engineering achievement at that time," he adds.

See also: 100 years later, Titanic's allure still strong

Although heavily involved in organizing and planning the trip for DOE, McCallum has only ever been able to take the plunge to the Titanic once.

At a cost of $59,000 per person, doing so makes the experience "a once in a lifetime" adventure for most, he says.

Yet despite the hefty price tag, it is not just the super wealthy who are keen to climb aboard, adds McCallum.

He explains that there are just as many people on middle incomes, who are enthusiasts or have a historic link to the ship, that save up for years so they can make the journey.

See also: The Titanic up for auction

"They are driven by a passion," says McCallum. "Sometimes it's a link to Titanic, to relationships with someone that was on board or in the construction or operation of the vessel."

"Other times there are people of an engineering bent, and occasionally it is not people who are interested in the wreck, they are just interested in getting two and half miles below the surface to see what's there," he adds.

No matter what the individual reasons may be, almost all who make the trip are humbled by what they experience, says McCallum. For them, "To actually see the Titanic and to explore it is the culmination of a dream," he says.

Unless another company comes along with a viable plan to continue the commercial voyages, however, McCallum believes it likely that future generations will be unable to indulge their varying Titanic curiosities first hand.

"If someone wanted to try it, good luck to them," McCallum says.

"Unless you are already substantially invested within deep-water explorations, I find it likely that .... it would be too much of a challenge," he adds.

      MainSail

    • Wide shot of a sailboat from a drone

      Drones offer new angle on superyachts

      "Sometimes, I fly the drone with my head in a trash bag so I don't get salt spray from the sea on my equipment," says drone operator Justice L Bentz.
    • Dave Swete and Nick Dana on the bow of Alvimedica for a windy downwind sail change during the team's second trans-Atlantic training session, this time from Newport, Rhode Island, USA, to Southampton, England

      Disney duo's new 'fairytale story'

      Navigate the world's most treacherous seas, crossing 73,000 nautical kilometers in a confined space with stressed-out, sleep-deprived crewmates. 
    • The Triton Submarine.

      Millionaire water toys

      Personal submarines, jetpacks, even 'walking boats.'
      Why the Monaco Yacht Show is a bit like stumbling upon James Bond's secret gadget lab.
    • London's new superyacht hotel, in Royal Victoria Docks.

      Inside $67M superyacht hotel

      London's new superyacht hotel is so enormous, authorities had to lower the water level by five meters just to fit it under a bridge.
    • Thomson hurtles up to the top of the mast aware that the boat can keel at any moment and fling him either onto the deck or the water below

      What next for sailing's daredevil?

      His mast-walking stunts have attracted over 3.5 million hits on YouTube, but Alex Thomson just wants to get back to doing what he does best.
    • Endeavour, a 1934 J-Class yacht, racing during The America's Cup Anniversary Jubilee around The Isle of Wight 21 August 2001. The four entries in the J-Class category represent the oldest remaining class used in America's Cup competition. Over 200 boats, including vintage yachts are taking part in the America's Cup Jubilee to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the first America's Cup race in 1851. AFP PHOTO Adrian DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

      Through hell and high water

      Elizabeth Meyer talks to CNN's Mainsail about the "Armageddon battle" to restore the pioneering J-class boat Endeavour.
    • Specatators use a boat to watch as boat crews race on the River Thames at the Henley Royal Regatta on July 2, 2014 in Henley-on-Thames, England. Opening today and celebrating its 175th year, the Henley Royal Regatta is regarded as part of the English social season and is held annually over five days on the River Thames. Thousands of rowing fans are expected to come to watch races which are head-to-head knock out competitions, raced over a course of 1 mile, 550 yards (2,112 m) which regularly attracts international crews to race. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

      'Downton Abbey' on the water

      Like "Downton Abbey," Henley's Royal Regatta reminds its visitors of an England of old. But for how much longer?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge poses next to the America's Cup as she visits the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich for the Ben Ainslie America's Cup Launch on June 10, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

      Britain's $134M secret weapon?

      Can a $134 million budget and the royal seal of approval bring the coveted America's Cup back to British shores for the first time in sailing history?
    • Eyos Expeditions offers superyacht journeys to the most remote places on Earth.

      Yachting to the ends of the Earth

      Bored of lounging on your superyacht in the Mediterranean? An increasing number of millionaires are now sailing their luxury vessels to the ends of the Earth, to get their kicks.