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Futuristic travel — 2010 and beyond

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Space and underwater travel

With space holidays not quite a reality, you may not be ready to shoot outside the atmosphere just yet. What about a happy compromise? A cloud hotel.

The designers of what they call the "Manned Cloud" hope to have it operating by 2020. The giant airship will accommodate 40 passengers on a three-day global cruise at 5400m — and treating them with all mod cons.

It's not just the skies and space that man has big plans for squeezing the holiday dollar in the decade ahead. With water covering 70 percent of the earth, stand by. There's a hotel coming to an ocean near you.

The Jules Verne Undersea Lodge has already opened in Florida and there are plans for another in Fiji. It will be known as The Poseidon Resort. Dubai, of course, is building one known as Hydropolis. Istanbul has a seven-storey version on the drawing board. Opening dates remain fluid.

If you just want to eat and run and not stay beneath the waves, the Hilton's Conrad Maldives already has the world's first underwater restaurant.

In other futuristic developments, there's plans for a 10-star hotel in Beirut, but it's the zero-star hotel that's just opened in Switzerland that really took our interest.

The zero-star concept is a backlash against the excesses that brought on the global financial crisis. The Null Stern Hotel is in an old nuclear bunker. No windows, no natural light, no walls and one shared bathroom.

So, there's the future of travel — space but no stars.

Flying and cruising

The future of cruising is looking brighter than ever with 15 new ships launching this year. About 14 million people are set to sail in 2010 as cruising continues to be the fastest growing travel sector in the world.

In the next decade, river cruising will see a massive jump in popularity, and watch out for cruise lines offering more and more discounts for advance bookings.

Keep a lookout for the Norwegian Epic. It has water parks and bars made of ice. Also hitting the oceans is the 6400-berth Allure of the Seas, sister to the world biggest ship Oasis of the Seas which will feature on Getaway soon.

In 2011, Cunard's third-generation Queen Elizabeth will reinvent the golden age of ocean liners for a whole new generation.

While ocean liners are going all out to attract passengers with luxury and comfort, jet liners won't be far behind in 2010 and beyond.

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is set to start flying in October. It promises to be quieter and cleaner, with innovative changes in interior design including cabin lighting and new-age seating.

When Air New Zealand's Boeing 777 takes to the skies, there will be big changes to long-haul flights. They've unveiled their new economy-class seating. Three seats will turn into a "sky couch", perfect for snuggling, children to jump around or single travellers to spread out.

To find out more about the hot deals mentioned on the show, check out Holidays for Sale.

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