Will Hostels Ever Catch On In America?

Ask an average American if he or she would stay at a hostel and you’ll probably get a puzzled look. If Americans even have a clue what hostels are, they probably associate them with young budget travelers looking to party. On top of that, they probably think hostels only exist in Europe.

But the reality is, there are approximately 350 hostels in the United States, and they are geared toward people with varying ages and interests. The number might seem surprising, but it still pales in comparison to the more than 51,000 hotels across the country.

Budget accommodations seem like a no-brainer. So what’s holding the United States back from becoming populated with hostels? Lots of things, the biggest of which is simple: demand. Americans and visitors travel differently in the Land of Opportunity. Unlike Europe, where close cities and sophisticated rail lines provide the perfect incubator for backpacking culture, major cities tend to be more spread out in the United States. It’s no coincidence that most hostels are found on the Eastern Seaboard and in central and southern California, where hopping from place-to-place is more economically viable.

Still, there is an up-and-coming type of hostel that might work in the United States. “Boutique hostels” offer the same cheap, often dormitory-style accommodations, but in a design- and tech-savvy environment. These types of places are generally geared to millennials, who desire amenities like free WiFi and on-site nightlife over free cable and luxurious rooms. And to ward off any stigma, marketers don’t usually put the word “hostel” in their name.

So what do you think? Can hostels make it in America, or are the impediments too big? Weigh in below.

New Cruise Line Sets Sail In 2014 With Small, Luxury Ships

New cruise lines are about as rare as new hotel chains; there is just not a lot of action on that topic. Like hotel chains, airlines and other travel-related companies, most cruise lines have been around for a long time too. Still, there are those who see a need in the marketplace that existing companies just can’t fill. Such is the feel of new Pearl Sea Cruises, which will set sail in 2014 cruising the Canadian Maritimes, New England and the Caribbean.

Starting out by building just one new ship, the 210-passenger Pearl Mist, Pearl Seas Cruises will operate various seven-, 10- and 11-night Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway, Canadian Maritimes and New England cruises during their 2014 inaugural season.Currently undergoing final outfitting by Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Maryland, the Pearl Mist will be a Marshall Islands-flagged ship, first departing June 28, 2014, on an 11-night inaugural sailing from Baltimore to Halifax, Nova Scotia. On a total of 17 cruises planned for the 2014 season that runs through November, itineraries include:

  • Atlantic Coast– 11-night cruise from Baltimore to Halifax & reverse that showcases scenic areas long the U.S. East coast.
  • The Canadian Maritimes – 10-night cruise from Halifax to Québec focusing on Eastern Canada’s scenery, history and beauty.
  • St. Lawrence Seaway and Thousand Islands –seven-night cruise from Québec to Toronto & reverse taps international and old world charm via history, culture and scenic beauty.
  • Great Lakes and Georgian Bay – 10 and 11-night cruises from Toronto to Chicago & reverse features the largest freshwater ecosystem on Earth, sailing through four of the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay.
  • Southeast United States – 11-night cruise from Baltimore to Nassau, Bahamas – this trip down the East Coast stops in the various iconic cities of the south and ends in the Caribbean.

Bringing the current destination focus of small-ship cruising to North America on a new luxury ship, Pearl Seas Cruises brings the latest in comfort, safety, technology and communication. Not that cruising the waters of North America is something new; river cruise lines have been doing that for quite some time. Pearl Seas will sail the coast on new ships, in luxury.

Unique to Pearl Seas are oversized staterooms, all with a private balcony and most with sliding glass doors, a spacious dining room, and a variety of lounges. Combined with on-board enrichment and entertainment programs as well as exclusive shore excursions, Pearl Seas Cruises looks like a new cruise line that should do well here.

[Photo credit – Pearl Seas Cruises]