Cruising into the future with the ship that dreams are made of
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.
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 4 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...