Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: A third Irish attraction expects to hit 1m visitors in 2014, but which one?

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Header August 31

Picture by El-Moe via Flickr

The headlines this week:

*Moher set to hit the million mark

*Cruising takes a Quantum leap

*Flypast surprise over Croke Park

*Dublin Airport’s 81,521 passengers on busiest day

 

Travel Extra TVPooch Pool Party

Our video of the week shows Lakeview Park in Idaho hosting its annual Pooch Pool Party. Dogs are invited to enjoy the water park before it closes for the year. The clip reminded Travel Extra’s Conor McMahon of Hundsbadet beach at Långholmen, Stockholm, where dogs and their owners are free to swim and play together during the hot summer months. Watch here.

Take a POV trip with wingsuit flier Robert Morgan as he rushes down the Avalanche Line in the Swiss Alps. Watch here.

Watch pro surfer Benji Brand ride a kilometre-long barrel wave at Skeleton Bay in Namibia. Watch the GoPro footage here.

More GoPro footage, a blooper this time:  A curious marmot spoiled a timelapse video Greenpeace was trying to film at Glacier National Park. The marmot became absolutely smitten with the camera – and decided to lick it enthusiastically to show his love. Watch here.

The sky is the limit as far as  the design director of Technicon Design, Gareth Davies, is concerned. He spoke to The London Telegraph about the potential for a windowless jet. Davies stressed that his project is mostly conceptual, but it’s still an exciting prospect (in-flight virtual conferencing, selection of visual displays, multi-displays). Watch here.

  • Bloomberg listed the top five most unusual McDonald’s in the world including a restaurant installed in the fuselage of a retired DC-3 in Taupo, New Zealand, at number two. Watch here.
  • This is what air traffic at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport looks like during a thunderstorm. Watch here.
  • Financial Times reported on the growing craft beer market in Japan. Watch here.
  • Fáilte Ireland posted a video celebrating last week’s Fleadh Cheoil in Sligo (watch here) and a separate promo entitled ‘Incentive Ireland’ (watch here).

HeadlinesInside Quantum cabin

This is how the inside cabins look on Quantum of the Seas as seen by Travel Extra at the Meyer-Werft yard in Papenburg, Germany: the view is a virtual balcony, relayed from HD cameras on the ship’s side, as Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain put it: “as if you could see through the steel.” See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

quantumThe ship is nearing completion and engines were revved for the first time Tuesday night. It will travel to Bremerhaven on Sept 21 along the Ems River (a VERY tight squeeze) for finishing and fitting of the North Star observation gondola. Sea trials will begin immediately. It will host the 2014 ITAA Conference on a taster cruise from Southampton on October 31.

Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson volcThe Icelandic no-blow at Bárðarbunga continued to make headlines.  Check here for updates from Icelandic  broadcaster RUV. Icelandic geologist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson (pictured) says that while the developments at Bárðarbunga are exciting for geologists they do not pose a risk to European aviation. See here for advice from the European Aviation Safety Agency.  Listen here to Travel Extra‘s Eoghan Corry on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland speaking about how the approach to ash alerts have changed radically since 2010.

Katherine WebsterIreland will have a third 1m+ visitor attraction in 2014 if current trends continue. Katherine Webster (pictured) says that Cliffs of Moher visitor numbers are 9pc ahead of the same period in 2013 as of the end of July, putting the site shortlisted for Natural Wonders of the World on course for 1,046,500 visitors this year. Katherine says: “Visitors are strong from North America, Europe, especially France and Germany, Australia, China and for the first year in many from the British market.  The Wild Atlantic Way has really caught the imagination of visitors and new routes and capacity into Shannon Airport is also adding to the overall impact.”

Picture by Tinou Bao via Flickr

Picture by Tinou Bao via Flickr

As the Gregorian summer comes to an end, Ireland’s visitor attractions are reporting increases of between 3pc and 18pc. Both of the big two attractions, the Guinness Storehouse (+9pc) and Dublin Zoo (+3pc) will increase again in 2014 to 1,261,000 and 1,057,000 respectively. The Guinness figures are a good barometer for tourism in general: visitors to the Storehouse from North America and England are both up 20pc, France up 2pc, and the rest of the world up 3pc although Australia is down 7pc and Europe in general down 2pc.

The Cliffs of Moher will keep its third place, despite an 8pc increase in visitor numbers at the National Aquatic Centre. The Titanic centre (+7pc) looks set to pass the 650,000 mark. The Book of Kells (+10pc) will pass 600,000 for the first time. Tayto Park in Ashbourne (+15pc) is on course to hit 500,000 for the first time. Fota (+18pc) will go through the 400,000 barrier, Trinity Science Gallery (+15pc) will surpass 390,000, and the National Library (+18pc) and Natural History Museum (+6pc) both expect to pass the 300,000 barrier. The National Museum in Collins Barracks (-8pc) is the only major attraction to see numbers fall. Chester Beatty Library numbers are up 24pc – the entrance was adversely impacted last year by security restrictions during Ireland’s EU presidency. Castletown House is also seeing a big increase, 16pc to June.

Little Museum of Dublin

Picture by infomatique via Flickr

The Little Museum of Dublin is Ireland’s fastest growing attraction at over 80pc visitor numbers (which jumped from 24,248 in 2012 to 51,783 in 2013) and are set to exceed 93,000 in 2014, giving it a top 80 finish for the first time. Exhibits include a business ticket from Ryanair, supporting Gibbon’s argument that history is cyclical. The big percentage gains are unlikely to be sustained for the simple reason that the three highest-yield months for most attractions, July, August and September, fall in the second half of the year. Here is Travel Extra’s prediction for the top 20 visitor attractions for 2014: 1 Guinness Storehouse 1,261,000;  2 Dublin Zoo 1,057,000;  3 Cliffs of Moher 1,047,000;  4 Nat Aquatic Centre 927,000;  5 Giant’s Causeway Centre 750,000;  6 Titanic 657,000;  7 Book of Kells 648,000;  8 Nat Gallery 635,000;  9 Botanic Gardens Glasnevin 550,000;  10 Botanic Gardens Belfast 552,000;  11 Tayto Park Ashbourne 500,000;  12 Nat Museum Kildare St 441,000;  13 Farmleigh 435,000;  14 Fota Wildlife Park Cork 431,000;  15 St Patrick’s Cathedral 420,000;  16 Derry Walls 410,000;  17 Ulster Museum 400,000;  18 Science Gallery 390,000;  19 Blarney Castle 365,000;  20 Newbridge Silverware 360,000.

osborne groupThe aviation highlight of the Croke Park Classic American football match was a fly past by two United States Air Force fighters to open the game yesterday (Saturday).  They came from Germany via England. Picture shows Adam McKnight of A2B Transfers and Lee Osborne of Bookabed who hosted agents at the Croke Park Classic American Football match between Penn State and the University of Central Florida with Kevin Williams of Abbey Travel. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Sunday, July 20 was Dublin Airport’s busiest day of the summer with 81,521 passengers. Belfast Aldergrove’s busiest day was July 11 with just 18,000 passengers. Cork Airport’s busiest day of the year was July 20 with 9,364 passengers. Thursday was the busiest day in the history of Knock Airport with close to 5,000 passengers on 30 flights to 13 difference destinations. The previous busiest day of the year was Thursday July 31 with a total throughput of 3,656 passengers.

 Jane BoulwarePicture shows Jane Boulware, vice president of US Windows Devices, at the Quantum of the Seas pre-launch showcase event at the Meyer-Werft yard in Papenburg, Germany. Royal Caribbean is to provide its 40,000 crew members with Windows 8.1 tablets. Crew members of Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, will be the first to receive the 8-inch Windows-based tablets built by HEXA for the cruise line. The tablets will feature services such as Bing, Skype, Office 365 and OneDrive. Rollout will begin in October and is expected to be completed by the end of December with every shipboard employee in the Royal Caribbean fleet receiving a tablet.

michael o'leary kenny jacobs laughs_2172Ryanair released the final details on the business products and, as reported in last week’s Sunday Supplement, it will include premium seats for business passengers but not a business class in the traditional sense. Business traffic has gone from 22pc to 25pc of Ryanair’s passenger numbers. They do not expect that proportion to grow further, but they want to increase their share of the business market. There will be no blue curtain, Kenny Jacobs told Travel Extra, the loyalty scheme that right now will introduce will be personalised to a business design individual taste, not the rewards for zillions of miles travelled (as Michael O’Leary put it) rather a taster reward system designed to boost Ryanair’s own bookings.

Margaret ShannonSo farewell then from the industry she loves, Margaret Shannon, Emirates’ country manager retires from the industry today, eight months later than she had planned because she wanted to put preparations in place for the double daily service. After a successful career in Aer Lingus she brought KLM in Ireland to a major place in the corporate market from a standing start and then did the same for Emirates as their first country manager in Ireland. Emirates party for the trade on Wednesday served simultaneously as Margaret’s farewell and Enda Corneille‘s arrival function as Emirates country manager for Ireland.

The highlight? KLM’s bringing the Irish soccer team to the 2002 World Cup, the shenanigans with Roy Keane on the outbound journey was made up for the hilarity of the return. RTÉ’s Tony O’Donogue dressed up as a stewardess and served passengers. No photos please.

As of tomorrow Emirates are double daily to Dubai, meaning Ireland will have four flights to the gulf every day. How long until one of them goes treble daily?

Holiday prices fell off the cliff as schools prepared to reopen, falling more than 60pc in some cases. The pick of the bunch: Tunisia for €289 from Sunway, or €189 flight only.

Travel Trade

travel-counsellorsTravel Counsellors will hold their Ireland conference on Thursday and Friday April 16 and 17 2015, venue to be announced. Three new recruits in September bring the home working travel group’s numbers up to 60 in Ireland with a further 25 in the north. Picture shows the Travel Counsellors Ireland team: Bernie Whelan, Cathy Burke and Ciara MacConnell.

  • Belfast International Airport announced Graham Keddie will be new Managing Director form tomorrow. From 2001-5 he was Managing graham-keddieDirector of Manchester Airport Group’s Regional Airports division, responsible for East Midlands, Bournemouth and Humberside Airports, during which time he oversaw the introduction of GO, BMIBABY andRyanair.
  • The board of the Irish Travel Agents Association will meet on Wednesday to discuss proposals for a new trade event to be held in conjunction with the AGM next April 24-25 .
  • Innstant Travel is adding European football tickets to its sports products.
  • Sunway has added another Santa Lapland excursion: a one night sleepover with Santa ex Cork €799 per adult and €699 per child.
  • Abbey Travel is offering 2 nights in Disneyland Paris’s Hotel Santa Fe or Hotel Cheyenne from €799 for 2 adults and 2 children under 7 during mid-term break. Includes 3 days’ park tickets. Flights and transfers not included. Book by September 30. Call 01 804 7160 or visit www.abbeytravel.ie.
  • joanne caseyPart two of Joanne Casey (pictured) of Glowmetric’s Web Analytics webinar takes place Wednesday, Sept 3, 9:30am-11am. Cost: €25. More Info/ Bookings
  • Funway’s 6-day flash sale continues until August 31. Quote promo code NY50 to get £50 off bookings to New York and USASALE50 to get £50 off bookings to the rest of the USA. In addition to this offer, Funway will launch its Fact Finders competition for MoneyCard members on September 5. Every Friday throughout September and October, Funway will post a question on their Funway4agents Facebook page. To be in with a chance of winning a hamper worth £50-£100, agents must answer the question and submit their ABTA number in the comments section. Entries will be added to a league table on funway4agents.co.uk.
  • COR_ALK_01112Thomson is offering 7 nights all inclusive to Louis Family Resort, Alykes Potamos, Corfu, from €2,158 for two adults and one child and €2,957 for two adults and two children. Travel May 29, 2015, from Dublin.
  • Camino Ways is hosting a free Camino de Santiago talk this Wednesday (Sept 3) at 53 Degrees North, Blanchardstown, at 7pm. Click here to register.
  • Celtic Horizon Tours is offering soccer packages: Leeds Utd v Huddersfield Town, Sept 20, Elland Road, from €99pp incl. one night B&B and match ticket; Man Utd v Queens Park Rangers, Sept 14, Old Trafford, daytrip from €149pp incl. coach and ferry travel, transfers and match ticket; Liverpool v West Bromich, Oct 4, Upton Park, from €299pp 1 night coach and ferry package incl. all transfers, one night’s B&B and match ticket; and Scotland v Ireland, one night coach and ferry package, departs November 14, Celtic Park, from €179pp sharing incl. return coach and ferry, one night B&B, return transfers from hotel to stadium, match tickets available but waiting on confirmation of prices. Celtic Horizon is also offering packages to Cheltenham – depart March 11, 2015, 3 nights by coach and ferry from €469pp – and the Aintree Grand National – depart March 11, 2015, 2 nights by coach and ferry from €299pp.
  • EGY_SES_8655Falcon is offering 7 nights all inclusive from Dublin to Sharm el Sheikh, Coral Sea Aqua Club, Red Sea Riviera from €2,081 for two adults and one child or from €2,906 for two adults and two children. Travel May 7, 2015. Offer includes free Kids’ Club for children aged 3-11.

Hotels

czech-hotelPetr Marcinčák, the owner of the three-star Hotel Marcinčák in Mikulov, Czech Republic, hopes to deter public urination on the steps of his establishment after threatening to post videos of offenders on YouTube. Mikulov is synonymous with wine-making, and Marcinčák seemingly has grown tired of visitors who have been caught short on his hotel’s doorstep, so he erected an amusing sign that has delighted social media users.

  • Trivago featured Ashford, Ballinahinch, Belleek, Clontarf, Dromoland, Solis Lough Eske and Castlemartyr (is Catlemartyr really a castle?) among its seven castles to wake up in Ireland for Heritage Week.
  • Generator Hostel in Smithfield, Dublin, ranked number 3 in HotelsCombined.com’s top 10 most popular hostels in the world. The full list: 1 Generator Hostel London, 2 Meininger Hotel London, 3 Generator Hostel Dublin, 4 Anker Hostel Oslo, 5 Nihao Taipei, 6 40 Berkeley Boston, 7 Centre Esplai Hostel, 8 Eurohostel Helsinki, 9 Eurohostel Glasgow, 10 Camping Village Roma.
  • Shangri-La International launches its Hotel Jen brand on September 15 when Hotel Jen Orchardgateway opens in Singapore. Another ten Hotel Jens will open in major cities in Asia Pacific by March 2015.

International

Picture by infomatique via Flickr

Picture by infomatique via Flickr

Dublin retains its position as the 17th most popular city visited by Americans in the first half of 2014. Most cities rankings are unchanged, although Toronto swapped third place with Rome. Mexico and Cancun both gained four places and Bangkok slipped form the top 20: 1 London;  2 Paris;  3 Toronto; 4 Rome;  5 Vancouver; 6 Barcelona;  7 Tokyo;  8 Montreal; 9 Hong Kong;  10 Niagara Falls; 11 Amsterdam;  12 Venice;  13 Florence;  14 Madrid;  15 San Juan;  16 Mexico City;  17 Dublin;  18 Istanbul;  19 Singapore;  20 Cancun.

  • The World Sheepdog Trials take place at Fearn Farm near Tain in the Scottish Highlands on September 3-6. The event is being hosted by Scotland for the first time. Dog handlers from 25 countries and 240 dogs will compete, including 21 dogs from Ireland.
  • Dana Troy Minich was appointed president and CEO of Experience Kissimmee.Dana Troy Minich was appointed president and CEO of Experience Kissimmee.
  • Troubled times or not, the Red Sea International Jazz Festival attracts over 10,000 visitors to Eilat.
  • Breathe Luxury claimed the domain holiday.com could be sold for up to £21m when it is auctioned at the World Travel Market in November.
  • Cape Town will host World Youth and Student Travel Conference Sept 22–25 2015. Dublin hosts WYSTC 2014 on Sept 23–26.

Food & Wine

Research by the Restaurants Association of Ireland indicated that the reduced 9pc VAT Rate results in 31,584 new jobs.

  • The Taste of West Cork food festival opens next Friday (September 5) and continues until September 14. To celebrate the opening of the festival, Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa is offering a seven course dinner for €65 incl. a drinks reception and a pre-dinner talk on seaweed. The full programme is available at atasteofwestcork.com.
  • Galway chef JP McMahon is cooking a six-course dinner at Honest2Goodnest market in Glasnevin on Sept 25. This is a nose-to-tail meal so crackling, cheek, belly, neck and ear will all feature. Tickets cost €75 and include a wine pairing for each course. Book at honest2goodness.ie.

Aviation

aer-lingus-sanfranAer Lingus’s flight to San Francisco, currently 5w, will be daily from May 1 on which date Orlando will go from 3w to 4w with an extra Wednesday flight. The Cork to Brussels service has been suspended for the Winter (operated 2w in 2013/14).  Cork to Munich service has been reduced from 2w to 1w from  Dec 20 to the end of March when it will revert to 2w. Cork to Malaga has reduced from 3w to 2w between November to the beginning of March when it will revert to 3w.

knee-defenderKnee Defenders were a hot topic this week. An online debate was sparked by a heated row between two passengers over the anti-reclining seat device. A number of media outlets reported that a United Airlines flight had to be diverted after an unnamed woman threw a glass of water over the face of the passenger behind her who refused to remove a Knee Defender he had installed. Josh Barro of The New York Times sympathised with the female passenger and argued that “When you buy an airline ticket, one of the things you’re buying is the right to use your seat’s reclining function.”  He offered a proposition to the anti-reclining seat camp: “I fly a lot. When I fly, I recline. I don’t feel guilty about it. And I’m going to keep doing it, unless you pay me to stop.” The Knee Defender’s 6-ft-3 inventor, Ira Goldman, responded to questions about the ethics of using the device with a question of his own: Is it unethical to have long legs? He said that the device should be used to open up conversations about packed seating on board aircraft. The Boston Globe’s Christopher Muther agreed that The Knee Defender is intended to open up a discussion about limited legroom; he noted that the device even comes with a courtesy card for offended passengers, which reads: I realise that this may be an inconvenience. If so, I hope you will complain to the airline. Maybe working together we can convince the airlines to provide enough space between rows so that people can recline their seats without banging into other passengers. To decipher who was in the wrong – the recliner or the knee-defender – Businessweek turned to Brandwatch analytics. The company measured data from Twitter to see who the public sided with most. It turned out they sided with…neither party: “The public deemed both as having selfish motivators and reactions,” Brandwatch concluded. Does that bring an end to the legroom wars? No. The battle continued after another argument over a reclining seat caused an American Airlines flight heading from Miami to Paris to turn back. So much for conversation…kenny jacobs App

Ryanair has launched an updated app (pictured being showcased by Kenny Jacobs). A further announcement on social media developments will be made on Thursday.

  • British Airways is allowing potential passengers to hold seats for a fiver on aircrafts. British Airways’ worldwide seat sale is open until Sept 23.
  • It didn’t take long for the first book on MH370’s disappearance. Goodnight Malaysia 370: The Truth Behind the Loss of Flight 370 by Geoff Taylor and air accident investigator Ewan Wilson, airs the theory that the aircraft was intentionally downed by pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who they claim was “suicidal” and “mentally unstable”.  It was reported that unanswered satellite phone calls were received from the aircraft on the C-channel the turn south was completed by 18:40 on March 8, earlier than previously believed.
  • A Delta Air Lines jet en route from Amsterdam to Atlanta had to divert to Shannon after a passenger went into labour. The woman was rushed to University Maternity Hospital Limerick where she gave birth.
  • Lifehacker.com explained how to survive air travel like a Zen master: “Arrive [four hours] early and move through the airport like the Dalai Lama. You are in no rush. All obstacles are taken in stride, patiently, with a smile.” Slight problem with this piece: the Dalai Lama practices Tibetan Buddhism, not Zen. Plus the author considers 60-year-old travellers to be ancient; that’s hardly fair.
  • Dozens of passengers were stranded at City of Derry Airport on Wednesday because Border Force staff members were unavailable to check their passports.
  • A number of Delta Air Lines passengers, due to fly from Dublin to New York last weekend, reportedly had to sleep on the ballroom floor of the Carlton Hotel Dublin Airport when no alternative accommodation could be found.
  • As first revealed in the Sunday Supplement five airport retail outlets are vying for the 2014 Retail Excellence Awards: The Loop at Dublin Airport (Company of the Year category); The Loop at Cork Airport (Company of the Year and Top 100 Stores); Jo Malone at T2 Dublin Airport (Top 100 Stores); Topaz Filling Station at Dublin Airport (Top 100 Stores); and Victoria Secrets at T2 Dublin Airport (Karen Grehan, Manager of the Year). Category winners will be announced in November.
  • Qatar released pictures of its new Airbus A350 Xtra Wide Body aircraft with its first delivery scheduled before the end of the year.
  • Irish airline reservations software company Datalex reported profits of $600,000 for the first six months of this year, three times what it earned in the same period last year.
  • Qantas and Virgin Australia passengers are now able to use their electronic devices at all stages of flight (provided they are set to flight mode). The new policy applies to all domestic and international Qantas flights. Virgin Australia domestic and short-haul international flights will be allowed gate-to-gate device access.
  • A Frenchman claimed he was forced off an American Airlines aircraft because he smelled bad, an allegation the airline denies.
  • Kraftwerk and aviation enthusiasts listen up: Music producer Matthew Dear and General Electric acoustic engineer Andrew Gorton collaborated on an electronica song called ‘Drop Science’. With the help of Gorton, Dear sampled over 1,000 recordings of jet engines and equipment at General Electric research centres to create the track. You can listen to the track here.
  • The Aer Lingus Pack Up & Go Sale continues until September 15. Aer Lingus is offering deals on over 100 routes for travel from October to March including flights from Dublin to London Heathrow from €35.99, flights to Brussels from €45.00, Lanzarote from €99.99 and transatlantic flights from €219.
  • birds1Two beautiful birds were pictured by Mike Kelly in Dublin Airport where they arrived with fans for the Croke Park Classic on Saturday. The first is a United Airlines Boeing 747-400 (the -400 model is a dying breed ) that arrived from Harrisburg, PA with a flight time of 5 hrs 51 mins covering 3,478 miles. The second picture is of an Atlas Air Boeing 767 that it arrived from Orlando Sanford with a flight time of 7 hrs 43 mins and covering 4,100 miles.1937-Imperial-Airways-An-Ensign-Air-Liner-for-Empire-Services-610x401
  • Ben Sandilands pondered that Etihad’s $43,000 flights in the Residence are similar to the fares for kangaroo route flights in the 1940s.
  • Qantas posted losses of A$2.8bn for the financial year ending June 30.
  • British Airways will add pulled pork to its first-class in-flight menu.
  • Ryanair submitted a non-binding offer for Cyrus Airways on Friday.
  • Malaysia Airlines will cut its workforce by 30pc as part of a restructuring that will cost $1.9bn.
  • Etihad confirmed Sydney as the second destination to be served by the A380.
  • Ryanair is reducing flights to Finland this winter (from 40,446 seats to 17,010).
  • Etihad part-owned Airberlin showed its first 2Q profit since 2009 showing what analysts describe as promise from its business model restructuring.
  • Alitalia CEO Gabriele Del Torchio is to depart following Etihad Airways’ stake acquisition.
  • Bloomberg reported on the decline of first class on American aircraft.

Afloat

richard-fainA quantum leap is what Royal Caribbean insisted it had brought to the world of cruising this week. It was hard to escape the tidal wave of publicity generated by Royal’s three-day event in Papenburg where the three Quantum ships are being built on adjoining sites.  As Royal’s CEO Richard Fain explained at a pre-tour dinner speech, when you have it flaunt it (listen here). Some of the features will be retro fitted on other Royal ships. Virtual balcony screens are already available in inside cabins on Navigator of the Seas.

QThe focus was on Quantum of the Seas, so near completion that they have the artworks in place and the carpets in rolls ready to be laid. Travel Extra joined 150 media and trade from around the world to see the new baby. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Richard Fain, who took the tour himself said advance bookings for Quantum of the Seas are coming in faster and at a better rate than they did in advance of Royal’s last two showcase launches, Oasis and Allure of the Seas. In an interview with Travel Extra, Richard Fain was more frank than a CEO of a major corporation
bumper car richard fain_2807usually is. He said that the rates they were charging to get back the enormous in extra recreational and entertainment facilities (a virtual skydive, the first bumper cars at sea) would be higher than cruise customers are used to, but we don’t need charge too much of a premium to justify the investment (listen here).

balcony_2922Most of the features of Quantum of the Seas have been well publicised, the North Star protruding like a unicorn horn over the option, the sitting room entertainment space 270° the virtual skydive and, most spectacular of all, the screens designed to give the impression that everyone has an outside cabin. Fain said a lot of effort went into making these as realistic as possible, down to the nature and tone of the shadows on the screen. There were temptations to change the concept to allow movies and sports events be put on the wall screen, but he said that would corrupt the idea. Quantum’s virtual balconied inside cabins may be that oft claimed but rarely justified term in cruise ship evolution, a game changer. Nobody is going to opt for an inside cabin ahead of an outside one, but this is better than even our mock-ups suggested it would be, he said. The inside cabin screens (listen here) were designed to give a view from the perspective of the cabin (listen here). Some of this technology has never been done on land, (listen here) Richard Fain said. Will it work? The technology is holistic, Fain said (listen here), we take existing technology and see what we can do with it (listen here).We want to be as flexible as a yoga instructor (listen here).

  • People will be getting more for their money when Quantum embarks on its first sailings from New York in November. After six months she moves to Shanghai and will operate from there for the conceivable future (listen here). Anthem of the Seas will take up the New York run beloved of Irish cruisers.
  • bill-martinQuantum will be the most connected ship on the ocean, with have more bandwidth than all the world’s cruise ships put together. Bill Martin (pictured) explained how the bandwidth works on Quantum of the Seas (listen here) and Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said the price of Wi-Fi has not yet been decided (listen here). Richard Fain said the bandwidth not possible under old systems (listen here).
  • The bionic bar was the highlight of a technology launch. In response to questions about the bionic bar Richard Fain said the technology will check age ID (listen here), customise the service (listen here) and would be served by a factory rather than humanoid robot (listen here) – and they won’t be programmed to respond to my wife doesn’t understand me (listen here). Fain revealed some other innovations such as how refuse will be frozen and stored for recycling (listen here), giving Royal Caribbean what he called the coolest garbage at sea (listen here). Everything on the ship would be incinerated or recycled (listen here). There energy consumption would be down (listen here) leading to a 20pc improvement in Quantum’s environmental footprint (listen here), spurred by the installation of 60,000 energy saving light bulbs (listen here). He said Quantum is most environmentally friendly ship on the Ocean (listen here), with a reduced friction hull literally floats on air (listen here)
  • He said that most visitors to the project reacted by thinking they’ll never have it done (listen here) but Royal Caribbean had built up credibility in terms of delivering these things (listen here).
  • joshua-helzJoshua Helz explained that the North Star gondola has been completed and is ready for Installation when the ship moves to Bremerhaven on Sept 21 (listen here). Richard Fain showcased the bright red bumper cars amid enhanced the onboard activities (listen here), explained there were plans to avoid queues for north star and other activities (listen here) and said the entertainment space (listen here) as a new kind of space (listen here).
  • Richard Fain said the developments would make the mechanics of taking a cruise a lot easier (listen here). Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said the technology would prevent passengers losing the first day of their cruise (listen here). She said the Royal Caribbean boarding process was on course for a 15 minute sidewalk to ship experience even on the giant Oasis and Allure ships, with 60 to 90 check-in desks (listen here).
  • Richard Fain (listen here) and Lisa Lutoff-Perlo (listen here) separately talked guests through the IQ app. The app will be free and will replicate the content of the printed bulletin Cruise Compass (listen here) although the paper version will still be available (listen here). He said the rooms were spectacular without any technology (listen here).
  • corneliusCornelius Gallagher (pictured) said there were 18 restaurants and 14 bars on Quantum, six of which will be premium restaurants (listen here). Brian Abel spoke about Quantum’s food & beverage programme (listen here) and said the dynamic dining concept is about technology as well as product (listen here). Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said 150,000 people have booked meals on Quantum, booking an average 7 out of every 8 nights on board (listen here).
  • Lisa_2455Lisa Lutoff-Perlo spoke of the historical significance of the family run shipyard (listen here). See pictures here of construction on Anthem of the Seas, which was ongoing in the Meyer-Werft shipyard. Richard Fain said the ship build was best deal based on price and quality (listen here).  Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said the only difference between Quantum and Anthem would be the Broadway show, We Will Rock You on Anthem as against Mamma Mia on Quantum (listen here).
  • Lisa Lutoff-Perlo spoke of the plans to retro fit balcony screens, luggage tracking, dynamic dining and bandwidth to the rest of the fleet (listen here).
  • Hapag-Lloyd Europa 1970sHere is the Europa, flagship of the Harpag Lloyd group when it became the first cruise ship to call to Ian Irish port for recreational purposes all of 40 years ago in 1974. The company was looked after by the Cronin’s company Specialised Travel Services. Shannon Travel also looked after a ship back then too and Tommy Kelly of Moloney and Kelly Travel also handled a ship in the late 1970s. Things have changed since; 200 ships will call to Irish ports this year.
  • Oasis Travel -Marina cruiseOasis Travel hosted a cocktail party for some of its cruise customers on board the Marina cruise ship when it was in Belfast. Picture shows Oasis Travel’s Retail Operations Manager Alison Miskimmon and Alex Farquharson, Oceania Cruises’ Sales Manager for Ireland, on board the ship.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line is offering agents special rates on-board the Norwegian Epic for bookings made with Travel Industry Services from September 1 to 14 for travel from April 2015 to April 2016. Itineraries include: 3-, 4-, 6-, 7-, 10-, 11- and 12-night Western Mediterranean from Barcelona cruises from £215pp (3-night cruise); 7-night Western Mediterranean from Civitavecchia (Rome) from £489pp; 6- & 7-night Iberian Peninsula cruises between Barcelona and Southampton from £425pp (6-night cruise); 9- and 10-night Canary Islands and Morocco cruises from Barcelona from £475pp (10-night cruise).
  • Amer Hols Magnifica JC65Picture shows Rebecca Kelly, MSC Cruises Sales Manager, Ireland; Gemma Garrett and Astrid Johnston, Cruise Product Manager for American Holidays on board MSC Magnifica in Belfast.
  • Irish Continental Group, which owns Irish Ferries, reported revenue of €130.7m for the first six months of 2014, an 8pc increase compared to same period last year. However, first half operating profit was lower at €5.2m, down from €6.4m in 2013. Group fuel costs rose 10.5pc to €26.4m for the first half of this year. The Group carried 683,800 passengers during the first six months of this year, a 0.8pc increase, and RoRo freight increase 18.5pc. Chairman John B McGuckian credited growth to “The introduction of the new RoRo ship Epsilon on the Dublin-Holyhead and Dublin-Cherbourg route.”

Ireland

BOXING SHOWDOWNA MillwardBrown survey commissioned by the NITB showed that 75pc of visitors from overseas had included Titanic Belfast in their planning before visiting the North. Titanic was the highlight of the trip for 70pc of visitors. Picture shows Barry McGuigan and Belfast boxer Carl Frampton with Clare McCoy of NITB ahead of next week’s Titanic Showdown, which takes place on September 6 at Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. Frampton will compete against Kiko Martinez of Spain for the IBF World Super Bantamweight title.

  • The second Comeraghs Wild Festival was launched.DUBLIN SET TO ‘GLOW’ IN CANADA
  • Glow magazine in Canada featured fashion shoots from Ireland.
  • National Geographic listed Ireland’s most picture-perfect spots in this photo gallery.
  • Organisers of the fifth annual Irish Redhead Convention – which took place in Crosshaven, Co Cork, last weekend – claimed the event could become as important to Irish tourism as the Rose of Tralee.
  • Fáilte Ireland will spend up to €20m creating a new brand and logo for Dublin similar to ‘I Heart NY’ in a bid to clean up the capital’s image.
  • Outgoing NITB chief executive Alan Clarke said Tourism Ireland is not giving the north’s brand enough exposure.

Email editor@travelextra.ie to have your say or it is @TravelExtraIre on Twitter if that’s your bag.

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