With April Fool’s Day falling last Friday, the travel industry wasn’t slow in catching the spirit of the occasion. Developments caught in the media spotlight ran from a fun cruise submarine on Sydney Harbour to four-year holidays for Australians hoping to escape the global impact of a potential Donald Trump presidency.
Virgin Australia launched a “Kids Class” – or so it seemed.
“At Virgin Australia, we recognise the magic of flying is discovered from a young age,” a video announced. The airline said it had decided to introduce a completely adult-free cabin, exclusively available for its junior flyers.
The Kids Class cabin had everything; even hopscotch down the aisle. Kids would have loved it. Alas, it was an April Fool joke.
Not to be outdone, Jetstar Asia announced its Singapore operations would be conducted in Singlish, a variety of colloquial English spoken in Singapore, incorporating elements of Chinese and Malay.
“For the month of April, the Singapore English homepage will display banners in Singlish, but the booking process, and language used in the booking pages will remain unchanged.
“Pilots and cabin crew will make certain announcements, and greet customers departing Singapore in Singlish. However, please be assured our strict safety standards will not be compromised. Should you be uncomfortable with Singlish, please inform our crew and they will use English where possible.”
Meanwhile, Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens announced that its scientists had mixed DNA from a coffee plant with that of a Shiraz grapevine to produce a hybrid “that could see viniculture in the Hunter Valley replaced by coffee production due to the impact of climate change,” according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“The coffee beans will grow on vine-sized bushes, which will mean that the crop can be gathered without the need to replace costly machinery already in place for mechanised harvesting of grapes.”
The Royal Botanic Garden celebrates its bicentenary this year – that’s genuine. But coffee taking over from Shiraz? April Fool!
Carnival Cruise Line Australia announced a bold new maritime venture – Carnival Submarine.
“Since our beginning, Carnival has been a pioneer in high seas travel. We are therefore proud to announce the newest vessel to our Australian fleet, a world-first in ocean tourism. Welcome to the next generation in cruising – Carnival Submarine.
“Carnival Submarine is a totally immersive experience (literally!) that encapsulates everything unique about a traditional Carnival cruise combined with upgraded facilities and brand new additions to your favourite areas.
“Your kids will love the newer, truer Camp Ocean, now with a full-length acrylic glass feature wall, transforming the space into an underwater aquarium. For fans of Alchemy Bar, why not pop in for one of two specially created cocktails: the Yellow Submarine and Deep Blue Sea.”
There were even water-slides under the sea planned, a media release said. Who knows, it may even happen, as shown below — one day.
Royal Caribbean got into the act with a wonderful name for one of its ships: Boaty McBoatface of the Seas (see below).
The name is based on a whimsical suggestion submitted by James Hand, a former BBC presenter, in a contest by Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council to name the council’s newest Antarctic survey vessel. Serious and stately names like Shackleton and Endeavour were proposed, but Boaty McBoatface was so preposterous everyone loved it. It got the top vote.
Recognising that a new force in naming ships had arrived, Royal Caribbean invited Hand to sail on its newest and biggest ship yet, Harmony of the Seas, when it launches in Southampton this May. In return, Hand will share his best suggestions to help name a future Royal Caribbean ship. The photo below shows such a vessel afloat. Aye, its Boaty McBoatface of the Seas. Shiver me timbers!
On another tangent, Royal Caribbean also announced it’s entering the space tourism sector with a new state-of-the-art spaceship, Orbiter of the Galaxies, planned for launch in 2030.
Groupon Australia revealed it was considering offering four-year holidays on a remote island paradise to Australians hoping to escape the global impact of a potential Donald Trump presidency. Orbiter of the Galaxies might come in useful for that one.
Contiki offered overseas holidays – without ever leaving Australia. Its Virtually Unlimited trips “are perfect for 18 – 35’s looking for that travel high, without the investment or time”.
“You can now choose from five virtual experiences; climb Peru’s Machu Picchu, paraglide in Sweden, Cycle through Vietnam, party in Oktoberfest – the biggest beer festival in the world or explore the incredible Iguassu waterfalls in Argentina.
“We’ll show you how to activate your senses whilst experiencing the best of the virtual world by booking a three-hour trip at your closest ‘Virtual Experience centre’ located around Australia.”
It sounds so authentic it could almost be true, but anyone clicking the “book now” button received an April Fool response.
Cheapflights announced its tie-up with “Britain’s newest and most exclusive boutique airline”, which is named Hipsterair. The airline promised to “peel away the homogeny of mainstream air travel to create something that is always just slightly out of reach for normal people”. The website www.hipsterair.com featured a picture of a De Havilland Comet, a plane more associated with the 1950s than 2016, bearing Hipsterair livery. Very retro.
Denmark’s national newspaper Berlingske, meanwhile, announced a revolutionary method of calculating departure tax. Passengers flying out of Denmark would now be charged if the combined weight of passenger, luggage and clothing exceeded 105 kilograms in total. Date of introduction? 1 April 2016 – of course.
Written by Peter Needham