The £330m Chinese-built Titanic II will sail from Southampton to New York in 2016. Passengers are offering $1 million for a cabin. .

A life-size replica of the doomed 20th-century ocean liner Titanic will sail from Southampton to New York following the course steered by the original ship in 1912 before it struck an iceberg, with the loss of 1,500 lives.

Would-be passengers are offering up to $1 million (£655,000) for a cabin aboard the vessel, which will set sail in 2016.

The £330m Titanic II has been commissioned by Australian mining billionaire Clive Palmer, and will be built to specification by a Chinese shipyard.

The nine-storey liner will carry 2,400 passengers and 900 crew, and will be 885ft long and 187ft high. It will be fitted with 840 cabins.

The vessel will be upholstered in the mahogany veneers of the Orient Express, according to sources, and fitted with Turkish baths, swimming pools and gymnasiums in the style of the original ship.

To cap it off, wardrobes of period costumes will be offered to its well-heeled passengers, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Engineers at the CSC Jinling Shipyard Company in Nanjing stress the ship's watertight safety. While its exterior will replicate the Belfast-built original, its "improved hull" will incorporate engines using the latest technology, according to the company brochure.

"The liner will be equipped with advanced technologies, including the latest life-saving and communications systems, to meet the requirements of modern navigation," Jinling spokesman Li Wenbao told the China Daily state newspaper.

The popularity of the 1997 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet means the story of the ill-starred liner is well-known in China, ensuring widespread publicity for the project. To this day, Celine Dion's theme song is still widely sung in the nation's karaoke bars.

Palmer, whose business empire includes nickel mines, golf courses and resorts in the South Pacific, is known for his love of the high life. He keeps five corporate jets and a stable of 150 racehorses.

With four bulk carriers on order from the Jinling company, Palmer opted to "throw in the Titanic as a bonus", saying it would become a maritime symbol of China's economic achievement.

"It's difficult to replicate a luxury liner but Jinling Shipyard has a history of 60 years of building various kinds of high-quality vessels," said Jinling company director Ge Biao.

At a press conference last week to announce the project, which has been commissioned by Blue Star Line, a subsidiary of his mining company, Palmer appeared via video link to declare enigmatically: "Why build the Titanic? Why go to the moon?"

The original Titanic was operated by the White Star Line, which merged with rival Cunard in 1934.