Interesting indoor spaces around the world

I love the outdoors, to the extent that I tend to bypass or overlook exceptional indoor spaces when I’m traveling or recounting a great trip. Fortunately, Lonely Planet author/former Gadling contributor Leif Pettersen’s recent list on LP’s website has reminded me that—as many a grandmother has said—beauty is on the inside.

Pettersen says only in recent years has he developed a special appreciation for the indoors. He had ample time to contemplate his new interest “during two sadistically cold weeks last winter when I voluntarily confined myself to the Minneapolis Skyway System as a livability experiment for an article I was working on.”

He’s since started a list of “singular, practical” indoor spaces (traveloguebookdealforthewin!) of note, including (obviously) Minneapolis’ Skyway System (“The largest contiguous skyway system in the world, connecting what may be the largest contiguous indoor space anywhere.”); Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar; Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest structure; NYC’s Grand Central Terminal (aka Grand Central Station); St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, and the Queen Mary 2. Here’s to keeping warm indoors this winter.

[Photo credit: Flickr user davedehetre]

Time lapse video: Queen Mary 2 sails the Atlantic

Queen Mary 2: Atlantic Timelapse from Adonis Pulatus on Vimeo.

Adonis Pulatus took these time lapse shots while aboard the Queen Mary 2 as it sailed from New York to the Caribbean last December. The luxury ocean liner appears to stay perfectly static as waves crash all around, making the boat almost appear to be photoshopped over a video of the deep blue. But Cunard’s ship isn’t really just a giant speed boat racing through the water, a fact that becomes clear once some brave souls zip around the swimming pool in the chilly air.

Deemed the “most luxurious ocean liner ever built,” the ship has been privy to an unfortunate series of events lately. Last month five women and four men – believed to be illegal Chinese immigrants – were taken into custody just after landing in New York. Before that, a 40-year-old stage hand was sentenced on child porn charges last September. Perhaps this is why the ship appears mostly empty in the videos – or maybe it’s just the cold.

Two Cunard Queens cruise to Long Beach

Not quite as cool as when Cunard Line ocean liners Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria, met in New York last month for the first time, two of the famed Cunard trio, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will cruise to Long Beach Harbor on March 3rd. Significant is the celebration of a milestone: the upcoming 75th anniversary of Queen Mary’s maiden voyage from Southampton, England on May 27, 1936.

“After the spectacular Cunard Royal Rendezvous in New York with our three modern Queens back in January, it is quite fitting that we continue the grand celebration on the West Coast,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line. “Queen Mary is an important part of our history and legacy and what better way to salute her than with a visit from Queen Victoria to celebrate the completion of her debut Americas season.”

Two queens coming to Long Beach is just one event in a long history of notable sailings.During Cunard’s 171-year history, the Queen Mary epitomized the golden age of ocean travel and served as a Cunard liner for more than 30 years. Additionally, she served as a troopship during World War II and a Royal Mail Ship, under contract with the British Royal Mail service.

Queen Mary’s influence lives on today as a hotel, museum and tourist attraction in Long Beach, California.

There will be three Queens in New York today

“Yeah so what?” one might ask. These three queens, Cunard Line ocean liners Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria, will all meet up in New York today for the first time.

The line’s flagship, Queen Mary 2 will arrive and dock at Red Hook, Brooklyn. The Queen Victoria and the Queen Elizabeth will sail up the Hudson and dock at the Passenger Ship Terminal in Manhattan.

“In January, 2008, Cunard Line’s first Rendezvous of their three Queens took place. It was quite exciting as it was the first time Cunard had three ships with Queen in the name and all three were together.” said cruise industry expert Stewart Chiron CEO, adding “It was the last time for many to see Queen Elizabeth 2, as she would depart the fleet later that year.”

The Queen Victoria and the Queen Elizabeth will have sailed in from Europe, doing what Cunard calls a “tandem crossing” where the ships sail side by side.

All three were expected to be passing under the Verrazzano bridge about 6:00 am today then spend a day in port before sailing by the Statue of Liberty to enjoy a fireworks salute to the famous ships before sailing off around 6:40 Eastern time.

“This time, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria meet the brand new Queen Elizabeth amid fanfare fit for royalty. New Yorkers love these types of events and what’s bigger than three Queens passing by the Statue of Liberty amid a gala fireworks show? QE2 had a very special place in New Yorker’s hearts as the ship made countless visits during her 39 years in service.” said Chiron.

We can watch live via the Queen Mary 2’s onboard web cam right now.

Image courtesy Cunard Line

Cruise ship power outage found to be explosion

Most of the passengers on board Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 were sleeping when the ship lost power on the morning of September 23rd. What was believed to be a brief power outage has now been identified as a more serious problem.

After a complete investigation, the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) ruled this week that the event was actually the result of an engine room explosion. In a report published this week the event was described as a “catastrophic failure” of electrical capacitors caused by gradual deterioration.

While passenger safety was not compromised the explosion, deemed strong enough to damage steel doors, adds to a call for improved cruise ship safety world-wide.

Maritime attorney Jim Walker notes “The reporting of this latest incident raises the issue of the safety of foreign flagged cruise ships, and comes after a string of recent disturbing mishaps.”

Earlier this week passengers were poisoned by potentially lethal hydrogen sulphide gas on Princess Cruises Sea Princess. On Holland America, a reportedly drunken passenger got into crew-only secured area and dropped the ship’s anchor. Carnival Splendor continues repairs for an on-board fire that canceled sailings between now and January.

While cruise vacations continue to be one of the safest methods of travel, these incidents have cruise lines taking a long, hard look at existing safety policies.

Flickr photo by Dawn Encido