Cruise and Air News: Robots Onboard; Chefs Too


Chefs at Ducasse Conseil.

Pierre Monetta


The Germany-based cruise line Aida, a Carnival Cruise line, plans to launch its new ship, the AIDAprima, in April with its first interactive robotic staffer. Known as Pepper, the roughly four-foot-high rolling robot is equipped to hear and answer questions from guests. The company aims to use it in guest orientation areas to offer information on daily activities, entertainment, embarkation and disembarkation. Pepper is not the first robot to sail — several of Royal Caribbean’s big ships feature robotic bartenders – but the novelty is set to expand. A second Pepper will join Costa Cruise’s Costa Diadema sometime following the Aida launch. Ultimately both cruise lines plan to deploy 10 Peppers on each ship across their fleets.


OneGo, a new service that offers travelers unlimited flights for a monthly fee, is set to launch today. Targeted to the frequent business traveler, the service allows members to book all the nonstop domestic flights they want each month across nearly every legacy carrier in the United States by using a smartphone app that they say streamlines booking. Unlimited national service costs $2,950 a month, and other packages offer unlimited regional flight bookings for $1,500 a month. Flights must be booked at least seven days in advance. “We’re trying to remove that whole process of searching for flights and taking time to do that. And we’re trying to solve that price fluctuation issue,” said Paulius Grigas, the founder and chief executive of OneGo.


The small-ship French cruise line Ponant has announced it is working with Ducasse Conseil, the consulting arm and training school founded by the chef Alain Ducasse, to create new menus and train the ships’ chefs. The training will begin on the first of the line’s five ships, Le Lyrial, this summer, with the remaining ships to follow by early 2017. Ponant has already partnered with several French luxury brands, including the Champagne house Veuve Clicquot as the exclusive bubbly on board, and Ladurée, the Paris-based macaron specialist, which supplies the ships with teatime treats.


Holland America Line and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts have partnered on a new classical music venue, Lincoln Center Stage, that set sail last week aboard the Caribbean-bound Eurodam. The new club is modeled after Lincoln Center’s venues as an intimate recital space featuring a wood-paneled stage furnished with a Steinway & Sons piano. A chamber music ensemble made up of five musicians who have recently graduated from music schools and conservatories will perform at the Lincoln Center Stage nightly. During days at sea, the ensemble will offer afternoon concerts. While their repertory is largely classical, the group’s numbers span Bach and the Beatles. Two more Lincoln Center Stages will debut on Holland America ships this April, including the new Koningsdam and the existing Oosterdam.


Los Angeles International Airport will celebrate its remodeled Terminal 2 on Tuesday featuring 16 new retail and food and beverage tenants, many with local roots. Seven of the new eateries are Southern California concepts making their airport debuts, including SeaLegs Wine Bar; Slapfish Modern Seafood Shack, a casual seafood specialist; Fresh Brothers Pizza; and Built, offering creative hamburgers. The mall developer Westfield, which has introduced local businesses to airport terminals in Boston, Chicago and other markets, doubled the concessions formerly available in the terminal. Construction on the terminal, the smaller of two international terminals at LAX, began in May 2014. Airlines operating from Terminal 2 include Air Canada, Qatar and Virgin Atlantic.

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