Posts made in June, 2013

Fire damages Hapag-Lloyd HANSEATIC – Cruises cancelled

Posted on Jun 25, 2013 | Comments Off on Fire damages Hapag-Lloyd HANSEATIC – Cruises cancelled

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

source: seatrade insider

Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten canceled two more Hanseatic cruises following a fire that damaged the ship during its maintenance docking at Bremerhaven’s Bredo Werft earlier this month.

Hanseatic is now expected to resume service on Aug. 16.

Passengers will get a full refund and 10% off another sailing during the 2013-2014 season. Travel agent commissions are protected.

The July 14 sailing from Svalbard’s Longyearbyen and the Aug. 1 cruise from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, were dropped. Earlier the company canceled the June 17 sailing from Bremerhaven and the July 4 cruise from Tromsø.

The June 9 fire damaged the ship’s engine compartment and a fire watchman from the yard and two Filipino crew members suffered smoke inhalation, requiring hospitalization.

The blaze broke out during welding work in one of Hanseatic‘s ballast tanks. It was quickly extinguished by local fire services but caused enough damage to significantly extend the shipyard overhaul.

Fire is an ever-present enemy of ships and one all-too-familiar to the historic German line.

In 1966, a fire aboard the 1929-built HANSEATIC gutted five decks while in port in New York. She was subsequently scrapped.

BREMEN was destroyed by an arsonist in Bremerhaven in 1941. No lives were lost in any of these fires.

The gutted BREMEN in Bremerhaven, 1941.
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Airbnb vs Hotels: A Price Comparison

Posted on Jun 18, 2013 | Comments Off on Airbnb vs Hotels: A Price Comparison


Airbnb vs Hotels: A Price Comparison

June 17, 2013 | Permalink

At Priceonomics, we like to get more for our money. Typically, there is a trade-off between cost and quality; the higher the quality of a product or service, the more it costs. So when you find superior quality at a cheaper price than existing alternatives, that’s pretty great. In fact, figuring out whether something is a good deal is the whole point of Priceonomics.

Whenever we travel, our preference is to stay at an Airbnb instead of a hotel. For those of you unfamiliar with Airbnb, it’s a website that lets travelers stay at apartments they rent from hosts. Sometimes you rent the whole apartment, sometimes just a private room in the host’s home.

Arguably, the experience of staying at an Airbnb is better than staying at a hotel. (But really that’s a matter of personal preference.) At an Airbnb, you get access to a kitchen, you can stay in a neighborhood with character (hotels tend to congregate around touristy areas), and you can stay at some pretty unique places.

But is it actually less expensive to stay at an Airbnb than a hotel? Can you rent an entire apartment for less than the cost of a hotel? We suspected that Airbnb rentals are less expensive than hotels, but are they really?

So, we decide to find out. We looked at every major city in America and compared the cost of a hotel to the cost of renting an apartment on Airbnb. We discovered that Airbnb apartment rentals cost 21.2% less than staying at a hotel. And if you’re on a budget, you can save 49.5% if you decide to stay in a private room at a host’s house instead of staying in a hotel.

Cost Savings of Staying at an AirBnB vs. Hotel

Renting an entire apartment on AirBnB.
Renting just a private room on AirBnB.

Let’s dive into the details.

The Cost of Staying at a Hotel

Staying at a hotel can be expensive in America, but not all cities are equally pricey. The first thing we wanted to figure out is how much hotels cost in the most popular cities in America. By looking at the median price of a hotel room for two people (a one night stay, booked a month in advance) by city, we built an index of the most expensive cities in America to stay at a hotel this summer.

Not surprisingly, New York City handily beat out San Francisco and Boston as the most expensive city in America to stay at a hotel.

Most Expensive Cities for Hotels

Median Hotel Rate by City

1 New York, NY 245
2 San Francisco, CA 229
3 Boston, MA 229
4 Seattle, WA 224
5 Cambridge, MA 222
6 Honolulu, HI 204
7 Chicago, IL 199
8 Charleston, SC 197
9 Providence, RI 183
10 Santa Rosa, CA 180

See Full Ranking >


The Cost of Renting an Apartment on Airbnb

Next, we calculated the median cost to stay at an Airbnb for all cities with enough data available. We looked at the option of “whole apartment” since it’s most comparable to staying at a hotel. We also only considered “active” listings that met our minimum number of reviews threshold.
Here Boston takes the top spot, narrowly beating New York City. Notably, it’s not always cheaper to stay at an Airbnb apartment than a hotel, especially in smaller cities with less Airbnb inventory. However, it’s almost always much cheaper to stay in a private room than a hotel. For a frugal traveler, this is a great way to extend your travel budget.

Airbnb Price Index

Most Expensive Cities in America to Rent an Apartment

1 Boston, MA 185
2 New York, NY 180
3 San Francisco, CA 165
4 Cambridge, MA 155
5 Scottsdale, AZ 143
6 Charlotte, NC 140
7 Charleston, SC 140
8 Las Vegas, NV 135
9 Miami, FL 135
10 Chicago, IL 130

See Full Ranking >

Where in America is Collaborative Consumption Most Embraced?

Collaborate consumption refers to the trend where people rent out their under-utilized assets to others. This include assets such as your home (Airbnb), car (RelayRides, Uber), and time (TaskRabbit, etc). So where in America are citizens most embracing this trend of collaborative consumption? We can use this dataset to measure which cities have embraced collaborative consumption, at least as indicated by how many people rent out space in their homes.

Bigger cities have more Airbnb listings, but we wanted to know which cities in America are into sharing, even if they’re not that large. So we looked at how many Airbnb units are available for rent per 100,000 people who live in the city (per capita Airbnb listings).

Collaborative Consumption Index

Airbnb Listings per Capita by City (LPC)

1 San Francisco, CA 213
2 Cambridge, MA 135
3 Berkeley, CA 123
4 Boulder, CO 90
5 Washington, DC 89
6 New Orleans, LA 88
7 Austin, TX 83
8 Portland, OR 77
9 Seattle, WA 67
10 Honolulu, HI 53

See Full Ranking >

Here you see some smaller cities like Berkeley, Cambridge, Portland and Austin are really embracing this trend. This chart could be a roadmap for other collaborative consumption startups to plot where they launch next.

Let’s Drill Down Into Neighborhoods

Finally, we were curious which neighborhoods are most popular when people want to “travel like a local.” So we investigated the most popular neighborhoods for Airbnb in San Francisco and New York.

San Francisco: Most Popular Airbnb Neighborhoods

Active Airbnb Listings

San Francisco: Most Expensive Neighborhoods

Median Price of Airbnb Apartment

1 Fisherman’s Wharf 299
2 South Beach 265
3 North Beach 220
4 Cole Valley 218
5 Alamo Square 200
6 Glen Park 199
7 The Castro 197
8 Marina 195
9 Lower Haight 190
10 Telegraph Hill 190
11 Union Square 186
12 Cow Hollow 185
13 Pacific Heights 185
14 SoMa 183
15 Presidio Heights 178
16 Duboce Triangle 175
17 Haight-Ashbury 175
18 Chinatown 175
19 Russian Hill 171
20 Potrero Hill 168

The Mission has the greatest supply of Airbnb units. Perhaps it’s related to the delicious burritos? As for cost, Fisherman’s Wharf, a neighborhood catering more to tourists than locals, is the most expensive neighborhood for Airbnb.
Next, turning our attention to New York City, you can see the most popular and expensive neighbhorhoods to stay. Holy moly Tribeca!

New York: Most Popular Neighborhoods

Active Airbnb Listings

New York: Most Expensive Neighborhoods

Median Price of Airbnb Apartment

1 Tribeca 279
2 Noho 240
3 Union Square 233
4 Soho 223
5 Times Square 215
6 Flatiron District 210
7 West Village 200
8 Hell’s Kitchen 200
9 Greenwich Village 200
10 Midtown 200
11 Little Italy 199
12 Meatpacking District 199
13 Murray Hill 198
14 Chelsea 195
15 Hudson Square 195
16 Midtown East 190
17 Nolita 187
18 Gramercy Park 185
19 Kips Bay 183
20 Upper West Side 181


Go forth and travel! You can tool around with this tool below to compare Airbnb versus hotel pricing by US city. May you roam the world seeing interesting things and not spending very much money.

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The World’s Best Airlines 2013

Posted on Jun 18, 2013 | Comments Off on The World’s Best Airlines 2013


According to the Skytrax World Airline Awards, the world’s largest survey of air passengers spanning 160 countries with over 18 million respondents, the world’s best airlines are:

Top 10 airlines in the world

1. Emirates
2. Qatar Airways
3. Singapore Airlines
4. ANA All Nippon Airways
5. Asiana Airlines
6. Cathay Pacific Airways
7. Etihad Airways
8. Garuda Indonesia
9. Turkish Airlines
10.Qantas Airways

Winners in other categories

World’s best premium economy class: Air New Zealand
World’s best low-cost airline: AirAsia
World’s best aircraft cabin cleanliness: ANA
World’s best economy class onboard catering: Asiana Airlines
World’s best cabin staff: Cathay Pacific Airways
World’s best regional airline: Dragonair
World’s best first class: Etihad Airways
World’s best economy class: Garuda Indonesia
Best low-cost airline in Australia / Pacific: Jetstar Airways
World’s best first class lounge: Lufthansa
World’s best airline signature dish: Malaysia Airlines
Best airline Australia / Pacific: Qantas Airways
World’s best business class: Qatar Airways
Best staff service in Australia / Pacific: Virgin Australia

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A new sustainable Bedarra Island

Posted on Jun 17, 2013 | Comments Off on A new sustainable Bedarra Island

BED - Point Villa Deck 2

Bedarra Island Resort is renowned for its natural beauty, luxury and exclusivity. When it reopens on the 1st July, 2013 it arguably becomes Australia’s most sustainable island resort.

Since the island was devastated by Cyclone Yasi in February 2011, the Charlton Family acquired the resort and have undertaken extensive renovations to the property, including replacing the island’s services and utilities. Director, Sam Charlton said “Our first initiative was to conduct a sustainability analysis to assess the population density the island could support, particularly in relation to waste, water and energy requirements”. He added “the outcome of this analysis led us to reopen just seven villas (as opposed to the original 16 villas), convert the resort to solar power and close for three months during the wet season”.

Situated on the Great Barrier Reef, just ten kilometres from the coastal township of Mission Beach, nestled amongst the tropical ‘Family Group of Islands’, Bedarra is unquestionably worth protecting.

Traditional operations at the resort were heavily reliant upon diesel and with changes implemented so far, diesel consumption has been reduced by 95%. “The hum and smell of a diesel generator just seemed so inconsistent with the natural beauty of the island” added Charlton “it was an easy choice to upgrade to solar.”

So how was this change to a sustainable future achieved?
• The old generators (3x185KVA) were replaced with an off grid solar system incorporating a 30KW solar panel array, 1-2 days battery energy storage and a small backup 44Kva generator.
• Complete refit of electrical appliances at the resort reducing peak and base electrical loads by 80%.
• Water is now sourced from Bedarra’s granite filtered natural spring and fresh rain water, rather than a diesel powered desalination plant which has now been decommissioned.
• Architectural changes to villas to encourage cross flow ventilation including replacing fixed windows with louvres and the installation of under floor ventilation to capture cooling sea breezes.
• Installation of award winning Haiku fans offering a low energy and high efficiency mechanical ventilation alternative to air conditioning.
• A new twin system bio-cycle wastewater treatment plant has been installed, with sub-terranean reticulation of advanced secondary grade treated effluent, protecting the fringing coral reef from nutrient and phosphate runoff.
• Installing low energy pool pumps combined with ionic pool chlorinators, reducing chemical consumption associated with the pools by 85%.
• Composting of all organic waste for use on the island’s vegetable garden.
• Replacement of water reticulation infrastructure to eliminate water loss.
• Choosing suppliers who minimize their packaging and maximize their use of recyclable materials.

The reduction in population will make guests feel like they have the island to themselves, further enhancing the feeling of privacy, exclusivity and seclusion Bedarra is renowned for.

The Bedarra experience is now more relaxed, more personalized, offers more privacy and is truly the epitome of barefoot luxury. It’s about a beautiful location to relax and enjoy the tranquility, with the added advantage of having a much reduced impact on the natural local environment.

“Reducing our consumption of diesel and simplifying our operation and services has enabled us to offer guests considerably more competitive tariffs than in the past. It also makes the option of hiring the resort exclusively with a small group of friends or family a viable alternative for a holiday you will remember forever” said Charlton.

Bedarra reopens on 1st July, 2013. Room rates are for 1 or 2 guests starting at $990 per villa and are inclusive of all meals, selected alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and activities. Additional charges apply for reef/fishing charters, diving, scenic helicopter flights and our cellar master list of alcoholic beverages.

bedarra bay

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Hydro Majestic Hotel Begins Again

Posted on Jun 15, 2013 | Comments Off on Hydro Majestic Hotel Begins Again

Hydro Majestic Hotel


The much-anticipated revitalisation of the iconic Hydro Majestic Hotel has commenced in early 2013, a $30 million redevelopment aimed at reviving its golden age.  Owners Huong Nguyen and George Saad are behind the grand revival. The couple paid $11 million for the property five years ago.  Following almost four years of detailed planning and review, the Hydro is scheduled to open in two stages, with Stage (1) building works scheduled for completion in April 2014. Opening is scheduled for July 2014.

The long awaited opportunity to peel back the layers and rediscover the essence of the most famous historic holiday resort in the Blue Mountains has arrived. The refurbishment scheme will see the hotel’s facilities, interiors and gardens – which now stretch more than a kilometre across the escarpment – revitalised to a world-class standard. Past glories, architectural and design aspects, and lost atmospherics are to be revived and rediscovered, while a touch of the here-and-now is set to take the building into the future.

Stage One will include the revitalisation of the majority of the existing buildings including the Casino Building, The Wintergarden, The Billiard Room and Cat’s Alley, The Delmonte Building and Conference Rooms and The Majestic Ballroom. This famous and fondly remembered space will have a beautiful new Lobby and pre-function area and will also include a large garden reception terrace.

Casino Lobby Artists impression

Casino Lobby Artists impression

majestic ballroom Artists impression

majestic ballroom Artists impression

winter garden Artists impression

winter garden Artists impression


The new Mark Foy Pavilion will reflect the spirit of the much-loved Easter Show Pavilions of Sydney’s old showgrounds. Operating as a magnificent interactive living history space and the vibrant Providores showcase – demonstrating the best regional gourmet food and wine of the area: A Taste of The Blue Mountains. This retail and exhibition space will be a tourism destination: a place to discover the history of theHydro, including multimedia screening suites, tours and places to discover the amazing produce of the Blue Mountains and surrounding regions (including Bathurst,Mudgee, Orange and the Western Plains).

Hydro View

The Boiler House (which has been neglected for decades) is to be restored, celebrating the fact that the Blue Mountains was wired for electricity four days beforethe Sydney metropolitan region. The Boiler House will be opened to the public for the first time in history, and is to include the gallery and beautiful Megalong Terrace Café looking over the breathtaking Majestic Point Lookout.

The new Majestic Point Lookout, picnic and market grounds will provide public access to the best views of the Megalong Valley. Located 10 minutes drive from Jamison Valley in Katoomba, the lookout provides a panoramic vista for picnics, music and the lost art of public promenading!

The rejuvenation and expansion of the accommodation facilities at the Hydro Majestic are planned for 2 years following the opening of Stage One. During this time the Belgravia Wing will be used to house the Hotel Management Institute, an exciting new hospitality school with its first intake scheduled for Feb 2014 .

The challenges of adding another layer of history to these significant buildings have not been taken lightly. A team of highly regarded heritage experts, architecture specialists and designers have been enlisted to realise this vision, with particular weight being given to examining and respecting the Hydro Majestic’s social history and heritage.

The team has been assembled by Sydney based hotel investors and is under theguidance of the acclaimed heritage consultant Graham Brooks with Jonathan Bryant of Graham Brooks & Associates, with over 30 years of professional experience inAustralia, Asia, UK, Europe and US.
“We are all proud to play a key role in the revival of the much loved Hydro Majestic at Medlow Bath,” said Brooks. “The Hydro Majestic Hotel has developed eccentrically over time under the guidance of retail baron Mark Foy, from relatively humble beginnings as an Edwardian house hotel and hydropathic resort to its glory years as a grand hotel and resort between the two World Wars. Throughout, it has enjoyed periods of great success and periods of lengthy decline. Despite recent refurbishment under previous owners, the hotel has become increasingly run down, with a host of inherent short comings that have never been appropriately or comprehensively addressed. We are delighted that the current scheme to rejuvenate the hotel includes a comprehensive plan to revive gardens, interiors and facilities to a truly world class standard.”

The team philosophy is mindful of the past but always has an eye to the future, to ensure the hotel continues to live well beyond current generations. Our alterations choose to borrow from the existing structures, enhance the old and provide a feeling of total renewal.
The vision for the rejuvenation is to continue the Hydro Majestic’s unique and eclectic combination of architectural styles; where additions made to the hotel over the past hundred years reflect time and place. Architect Ashkan Mostaghim of Mostaghim &Assoc has created a series of magnificent new additions for Stage One and Stage Two of the development. The Mark Foy Pavilion and the new Belgravia and Mark Foy Wings add the 21st century layer to this famous Australian landmark – with absolute style and reverence for the staged form that is the Hydro Majestic.

International interior designer Peter Reeve of CRD will create luxurious, new, and historically-inspired interiors which reference the past and fold into the present with absolute luxe. They will work to harness the atmosphere and mood of the Hydro Majestic with a range of carpets and rich textiles based on period influences, timbers and stones, referencing the austere beauty of the Edwardian, the generosity of the Art Nouveau of the Belle Époque and moments of Art Deco.

Using the whites and soft tones taken from its original palette and expressed against the elegant contrast of ebonised timber and Black Japan, the interiors will work to reflect the Hydro’s flamboyant origins under the auspices of the retail baron Mark Foy. Design cues are also seen in the Raffles of Singapore and the Lavinia in Sri Lanka – sister hotels in a time of Empire, reflecting the flavour of the original Hydro Majestic.

The Avenue of Pines is to be reinstated with magnificent new landscape plantings reflecting the great gardens of the Blue Mountains and inspired by legendary landscape architect Paul Sorensen. The historic croquet lawn will live again, plus a beautiful new garden terrace entry to the Majestic Ballroom and lookout and escarpment aprons, encompassing a unique horticultural vision incorporating both European and Australian plantings.

Steeped in historical and social significance, the newly renovated Hydro Majestic Hotel, with its outstanding facilities, fine dining and accommodation, is set to offer an enormous boost to tourism and employment in the region and will re-establish the Blue Mountains as a glamorous national and international tourist destination.

The Hydro’s original owner Mark Foy was a visionary and this next chapter aims to continue his grand vision for the Blue Mountains.

Official Site

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Power Charging on the Go

Posted on Jun 15, 2013 | Comments Off on Power Charging on the Go

PocketCell Duo


For power charging on the Go.  The PocketCell™ Duo is an ultra-compact rechargeable battery bank, featuring an impressive capacity and dual USB power-ports that allow you to charge two tablet-PCs or two smartphones to full charge twice simultaneously.

Two built-in USB power ports combined with the critically acclaimed Magic Cable Trio—featuring an Apple-compliant tip, a micro and mini-USB tip—enable you to charge up to 10,000 USB-chargeable devices anytime, anywhere!

The Smart Charge feature intelligently detects the type of device the PocketCell™ Duo is connected to, and delivers the right amount of power to charge your device quickly and safely every time. The Innergie PocketCell™ Duo is equipped with a suite of protection features.  These features provide you with ease-of-mind while charging your devices wherever life takes you.

Well worth adding to your road warrior kit bag. SRP $89 USD

PocketCell Duo

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