Cruising into the future with the ship that dreams are made of

It is not a bird, nor a plane, but one man's vision of the future for luxury cruises.

If it ever leaves the drawing board, the Saltire project would see a floating city carrying more than 7,500 people from California to the Caribbean within the next 15 years.

The model ship may look as if it came from a Thunderbirds set, but its originator, John McNeece, is a respected ship designer who helped to plan Britain's largest luxury cruise ship - P&O's 67,000-ton Oriana.

However, his previous work pales into insignificance when compared to this grand vision. Mr McNeece's ship would boast ice rinks, convention centres and helicopter pads next to the more traditional cruise distractions of shops and cinemas.

But such additions, Mr McNeece said, will be necessities. "As we become more accustomed to a hi-tech environment we will demand these things."

Launched at a Miami conference in March, the project has its British airing today. So far, the project has had a warm reception from ship builders.

"Sadly, there have been no earth-shattering changes in the look of cruise ships in the past 50 years," said Mr McNeece. "Certainly not compared with the aerospace industry."

The most radical departure from current thinking in Mr McNeece's plans is how the new design overcomes the "Panamax" problem. This is the width limit imposed on ships if they are to negotiate the Panama canal, which links the east and west coasts of the Americas, the cruise industry's most lucrative market.

The limit, of 32 metres, has meant ships being developed around the traditional single-hull "long-and-thin" design. But Mr McNeece's creation will be able to detach its four floating pads, and retract its stabilising arms, ensuring that the 200,000 ton Saltire can sail the tricky canal.

That this is more fiction than fact does not deter Mr McNeece. "The cruise industry needs more 'blue sky' thinking, more brain storming," he said.

"One thing is certain - the cruise industry 50 years from now will belong to those who invested, pushing forward the frontiers to make their dreams reality."

From smoke-stacks to helipads

For all its reputation for luxury, cruising has humble roots. The first "holidays" sprung up in the late-1800s and were nothing more than passages on mail ships for sturdy travellers who wanted to cross the Atlantic, writes Randeep Ramesh.

Then came the great luxury vessels of the Edwardian age - the most famous being the ill-fated Titanic. Tragedy apart, none of the great ships, including the Normandie and the Queen Mary, were financial successes. Cruising came of age only in the post-war years, with Cunard's QE2 epitomising the height of luxury. Now the industry ferries nearly 6 million people around the globe, and is growing at 8 per cent a year. Carnival, Royal Caribbean and the Princess arm of P&0 all have 100,000-ton giants on the slipway. But they will be like minnows beside the 250,000-ton behemoth planned by two American corporations - the pounds 800m America World City: The Westin Flagship.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Chelsea are interested in loaning out Romelu Lukaku to Everton again next season
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series