I was reading Danielle Fear’s Cruise Miss blog recently, and came across some interesting facts about cruise ships I thought you might be interested in.
Did you know that cruise ship cabins are pre-manufactured on land and slotted into place and then connected to a ship’s power and water supply? A manufacturer can make 12,000 such cabins in a year.
Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas has its own ZIP code. It’s the first cruise shop to have one, though a Detroit River mail boat that delivers mail to passing freighters has one, too.
Karin Stahre Janson from Sweden became the first female captain of a cruise ship, the Monarch of the Seas, six years ago.
The Queen Mary 2 (pictured) is the only remaining ocean liner offering regular trans-Atlantic crossings between New York and Southampton in the UK.
The same guy founded both Carnival Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines. He was Ted Arison, father of Micky Arison who is chairman of the board of Carnival. An Israeli-born, American businessman, Micky spells his name “M-I-C-K-Y.” Carnival is the world’s largest cruise operator.
All the Vista-class ships of Holland-America are named after the four points of the compass. The ms Noordam means “north,” Oosterdam means “east,” Westerdam—well, you know what that means, and Zuiderdam means south.
Feel free to memorize a few of these factoids and win a bar bet or two.
Universal is spending $1.1 billion to expand both its California and Florida parks. In Orlando, there’s a Transformer ride, a Simpsons shopping area, and a second Harry Potter land coming. At Universal Studios Hollywood, a Despicable Me and other projects are being built.
Disney, too, is shelling out about a billion to create a whole new way for visitors to access rides at Florida’s Disney World. It’s a project called “My Magic+,” and it’s a massive, high-tech project that gives visitors a rubber bracelet—called a “MagicBand”–before they arrive at a park. That and a reservation system will allow visitors to avoid lines at popular attractions by booking three or four in advance of a visit.
Visitors will also charge purchases at restaurants and stores by simply waving their MagicBand in front of a reader, a move Disney thinks will sharply boost revenues.
Disney will also unveil a $425 million expansion of Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom by next year, and the company has begun work on an attraction based on the movie “Avatar” in the Animal Kingdom.
Parents, hold on to your wallets!
Well, it turns out that there is really an Area 51. It’s located in the Mojave Desert about 100 miles north of Las Vegas. But in admitting this for the first time, the government is also contending it isn’t hiding any UFOs or cadavers of aliens there.
For decades, the federal government has refused to acknowledge Area 51. And for decades, citizens in the region have reported UFO sightings. Area 51 has been credited with being the graveyard of squid-like aliens, wrecked UFOs, and even Elvis Presley.
Maybe you saw “Independence Day,” the movie that made much of Area 51. There’s a new movie coming out called simply . . . “Area 51.” The description of the plot on the Internet Movie Database is one sentence long.
“Terror strikes when reporters visit a secret base that houses extraterrestrials.”
But a couple of weeks ago, documents released by the federal government acknowledged Area 51, but—truth be tol–it’s just a big salt flat in the middle of nowhere that allowed the military to safely test the Stealth bomber and other secret aircraft.
But I’m afraid it’s going to be awhile until we can all go on a guided tour of the place, much to the disappointment of conspiracy fans everywhere.
Every September, Her Royal Highness goes to Scotland to Balmoral Castle, the 49,000-acre pile that’s been in the royal family since Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought it in 1852. It was torn down and rebuilt in 1856, and today there are six smaller holiday cottages available for rental by us commoners.
What that means to London visitors is that Buckingham Palace is open to the public until the 29th of this month. The two-hour tour involves a half-mile walk through the palace’s state rooms and gardens. You’ll see the queen’s coronation gown, priceless art and furniture, and the throne room.
Your admission price includes an audio tour—it’s about $30 for an adult ticket, less for students and visitors under 17 or over 60.
While you’re there, you’re only a ten-minute stroll to the Churchill War Rooms, the wartime bunker where Churchill and his government orchestrated World War II as London suffered under the Nazi Blitz. It’s a fascinating place to visit, and many first-time visitors to London might not be familiar with the attraction.
Yesterday I discussed how to determine whether you should use frequent flyer miles for items other than airline tickets. Things like hotel rooms, rental cars and merchandise. Today I want to mention two footnotes you should also know about.
Folks who are elite members of frequent flyer programs will often receive special deals that let them spend up to 55% fewer miles for rewards such as hotel rooms and packages that might include both a hotel room and a rental car.
It’s a way an airline can reward its best customers, so if you need another reason to work one or two specific airlines’ programs, there’s one.
And the Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney, writing earlier this month in his “Middle Seat” column, pointed out that packages can save miles, too. American Airlines asked 23,200 miles for an economy class car from Dollar Rent a Car and a room at the Luxor in Vegas over Labor Day weekend. That’s a 7.5% discount in the number of miles you’d have to give up if you’d bought each of those elements separately using miles.
When deciding to spend frequent flyer miles, take your time and do some comparison shopping.