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For $50,000 you, too, can visit the Titanic

For 80 years the Titanic guarded its secrets in its deep-sea grave. Then in the 1990s scientists began exploring the wreck. Now a St. John's adventure company wants to take paying tourists down to see it -- nearly four kilometres down, in the cold black depths of the North Atlantic.

Trips are scheduled for late summer at $50,000 a seat.

Armed with two mini-submarines that were used to film the 1997 hit movie Titanic,St. John's-based British Island Tours and its partner companies in the United States and Germany are taking reservations for sight-seeing visits to the sunken liner.

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Claustrophobics are not encouraged to sign on. The trip involves a 12-hour dive in a tiny submarine with two other people, including a four-hour plunge to the ocean floor, four hours for exploring the wreckage, and a four-hour ascent.

"It's expensive and wouldn't be for everyone," says Larry Daley, president of British Island Tours, who also runs a Titanic museum in St. John's.

"But the interest has been great from movie stars and CEO types, to an elderly lady who spent her life working in Macy's department store in New York and saved her money so she could travel the world after she retired."

Daley has teamed up with U.S.-based Quark Expeditions and the Germany-based Deep Ocean Expeditions. They've hired the Russian research vessel Akademic Keldish to take clients out to the site for two eight-day stints this summer.

On board, guests will be wined and dined and given lectures on Titanic history.

"We plan to make two trips out with about 20 to 30 people in August and September. The plan is to get cruise ships interested in visiting the site as well," Daley said.

"This is a big opportunity for Newfoundland to get a piece of the growing adventure tourism industry that's being generated by worldwide interest in the Titanic."

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