Cruise ships have long been called floating luxury hotels. With their butler service, designer shopping, choice of restaurants and spa facilities some are certainly in the same league. The latest idea being trialed at Echo Bay Marina on Lake Mead, NV are luxury floatels.
These moored lodgings are ideal for larger parties, families and gatherings of friends but can they really compete with luxury hotels in Las Vegas? Thankfully the boats are climate controlled for the dry desert environment, and they do come with a kitchen, four bedrooms, a TV and a sundeck with hot tub. Waterfront views are a given.
However, room service is not available and it is a long drive back to bed after dining on the Strip. While some places spring to mind as being a pleasant place to stay on water - Vancouver Harbour or Sidney Australia for example - most marinas with spare capacity for floatels tend to be seedy docklands and places you certainly would not want to return to alone after dark.
On the plus side, pets are welcome at these floatels and prices are lower than comparable luxury hotels. For me, floatels are closer to camping than pampering, despite what their optimistic advertising claims them to be.
by Gillian at Luxique Luxury Hotels
Cruising is a booming business with approximately 34 million passengers taking a cruise each year and contributing to the flourishing $60 billion industry.
News reports frequently hail the launch of newer bigger cruise ships, which have made this once exclusive domain of the wealthy available to all income brackets, but now cruise embarkation ports are in the news. Many major ports are planning improvements to make their facilities more secure, easier, more multi-functional and even a little more eco-friendly.
The Port of San Diego opened its new $28 million pavilion just before Christmas which will provide green shore-side power to cruise ships. When cruise ships are not in port, the huge complex can be used as a public events arena.
Not to be outdone, the neighboring Port of Los Angeles has just completed its $10.8 million solar roof project. The solar panels are estimated to produce 1.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity per annum and should save $200,000 in energy costs whilst providing a more eco-friendly system.
Known as the “Cruise Capital of the World”, the Port of Miami is the busiest cruise ship port in the world and sees around 4 million passengers a year depart its busy docks. It has laid out plans for a $2 billion expansion over the next two decades including a $75 million project to accommodate the world’s largest cruise ships to date, the Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas.
by Gillian at Luxique Luxury Hotels
For boutique hotels in Miami, Los Angeles and San Diego, check out the unique selection on Luxique.
A couple who lost their camera overboard from an ocean liner in the Atlantic have had it returned to them – by a Spanish trawlerman who found it in his nets.
Barbara and Dennis Gregory, from South Africa, were en route from New York to Southampton on Queen Mary 2 in 2008. When their camera went over the side, they didn’t expect to see it again, let alone any photos.
But Benito Estevez, fishing off the west coast of Europe, caught it in his nets, with five photos still intact on the memory card. He posted them online and they were then shown on a TV programme in the UK. Friends of the couple recognised them.
Speaking through a translator, Mr Estevez said:
“It makes me really happy to see that they have recovered the memories they lost. If it had been any other thing we would have thrown it back into the sea … but these circumstances were different. I think it’s because of destiny.”
Mrs Gregory said it was ‘absolutely mindboggling’.
And if you’re wondering what sort of camera could survive such an ordeal, it was the Nikon P90. Expect the company to advertise its hard-wearing qualities very soon …
by Andy Moreton
A debate has been raging in the media about the decision by the cruise line Royal Caribbean International to continue to dock its ships at a private luxury resort in Haiti.
Passengers have been enjoying the beautiful expanse of white sand at Labadee, only 60 miles from the capital, Port-au-Prince, where up to 200,000 people are believed dead in the devastating earthquake.
The burning question has been: Should vacationers relax and have fun with so much suffering elsewhere on the island, or would it be worse to stop the port calls and deprive locals of what they earn from tourism?
One cruise passenger wrote:
“I just can’t see myself sunning on the beach, playing in the water, eating a barbecue, and enjoying a cocktail while [in Port-au-Prince] there are tens of thousands of dead people being piled up on the streets, with the survivors stunned and looking for food and water.”
But Royal Caribbean President and CEO, Adam Goldstein, defended the decision to continue with scheduled stops in Labadee. He said the site had sustained no damage and the Haitian government had welcomed the ship. The country reaped a fixed cost per passenger, plus annual fees and the cash that tourists spent on goods at a market where locals sold trinkets and crafts.
In addition, he said, Royal Caribbean was delivering food and water during every call and pledging $1 million (£620,000) plus net revenue from Labadee to the relief effort.
by Andy Moreton
The Scottish capital, Edinburgh, is to promote itself as a must-see cruise destination.
A £35,000 ($55,000) marketing campaign and dedicated website will attempt to cash in on the growing popularity of the Northern European cruise liner business and achieve for the city a 40 per cent rise in passenger numbers by 2013. It’s estimated that 55,000 passengers came to Edinburgh during this year’s season.
Edinburgh’s specific aim is to increase its presence on the itineraries of the Norwegian and Baltic cruise operators.
Because cruise liner passengers spend more on average than other tourists, they are being seen as an important means of achieving the target of increasing Scotland’s tourism revenues by 50 per cent by 2015.
Peter Lederer, the chairman of the national tourism agency, VisitScotland, said: “Growing tourism is critical to the future of Scotland … in the current economic climate, it’s crucial we work together to get tourism growth back on track.”
The city authorities have a long-term ambition to have a new dedicated cruise liner terminal at Leith docks.
by Andy Moreton
Dubbed by some ‘the Athens of the North’, Edinburgh is one of Europe’s most picturesque capitals. At Luxique we’ve come up with eleven hand-picked luxury hotels in Edinburgh, from the classic Balmoral to the chic Malmaison Edinburgh.
Like many other people, I’ve always had a fascination with the Titanic, but I’m not sure it stretches to going on a cruise to recreate the ship’s maiden (and final) voyage.
It’s been announced that the cruise liner Balmoral will set sail from Southampton on April 8th 2012 to follow the exact route of the Titanic to commemorate the 100th anniversary of its sinking.
The passengers will enjoy the same menus as their Titanic predecessors, while music and dancing will also be from the era. Titanic experts will give lectures during the voyage.
A memorial ceremony will be held at the exact location where the Titanic sank in the early hours of April 15th 2012, claiming the lives of 1,517 passengers and crew. The journey will then continue to Halifax, Nova Scotia - the final resting place of many who were on board - before sailing on to New York, the doomed liner’s planned destination.
Will there be a rush for this rather sombre cruise? A spokesman for Miles Morgan Travel, which has chartered the Fred Olsen cruise liner for the voyage, is convinced there will be. “The Titanic still grips the imagination of people throughout the world and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a unique cruise packed with interest for those with a fascination for the Titanic story.”
The Balmoral will carry 1,309 paying passengers – the same number that travelled on the fateful Titanic voyage. The 12-night cruise, including flights back to the UK, will cost between £2,595 ($4,100) and £7,995 ($12,700). Details at www.titanicmemorialcruise.co.uk
Soon after the announcement of the memorial voyage came news that the last remaining survivor of the disaster, Millvina Dean, had died, aged 97. She was two months old at the time and survived in a lifeboat with her mother and brother. Her father died.
by Andy Moreton