Are cruises safe? Not as much as you think...New Calgary hotels...Amex Pearson
Great story/expose in today's Star by Petti Fong, our Vancouver bureau chief and a regular contributor to the Travel section.
In a story on our front page, Fong writes that nearly 200 people have disappeared off cruise ships in the past decade, eight this year alone.
Most frightening is the seemingly universal lack of law enforcement. The ships themselves have little in the way of policing, even with thousands of "residents" on board. And the cruise companies register their ships in far-flung places that appear more interested in getting tax dollars than investigating potential crimes.
I mean, does anyone REALLY think Liberia or Panama police are going to go out of their way to look for a missing Canadian from a cruise ship registered in their country? It doesn't look like it. Fong writes about ships that fail to lock down after serious incidents and about what look like the most cursory of investigations.
Said Kendall Carver, president of International Cruise Victims: "The cruise ship industry has a reason to cover up any indication that these trips are not safe."
I'm not saying cruise ships are dangerous places to be. Heck, downtown Toronto looks pretty scary the past couple weeks. But it seems the cruise industry hasn't exactly distinguished itself when it comes to missing passengers, and, if nothing else, one would be wise to enter a cruise ship with the same kind of open eyes one would have while walking the streets of a major city.
HILTON COMES TO CALGARY
HIlton is putting up not one but two hotels (in the same complex) in the new East Village area of downtown Calgary.
The city's downtown east end has seen its share of troubles, but the city started a redevelopment scheme a few years ago and it appears to be paying off. The U.S.-based Widewaters Group, a commercial real estate firm, said it will build a pair of Hilton hotels with a combined 315 rooms at Fourth St. S.E. and Seventh Ave. S.E. (and can someone please find the idiots who came up with this system for naming streets in Calgary; it's godawful). According to today's Globe and Mail, one hotel will be a Hilton Garden Inn (usually good value) with 198 rooms and the other will be a Hilton Homewood Suites with 117 rooms/suites (always good for families or folks wanting a bit more breathing space).
Hilton isn't represented in boomtown Calgary, so officials called the project a "no-brainer."
Plans call for 11,000 new residents in the East Village by 2025. There's also a new National Music Centre being built in the restored King Edward Hotel.
Good times for Calgary, for sure.
AMEX AT PEARSON
I'm not sure I like this.
It was announced Monday that American Express Canada cardholders are about to get extra perks at Toronto Pearson Airport, including parking discounts and the ability to skip long security lines. The benefits depend on the type of Amex card one holds, so it may not be available to the run-of-the-mill cardholder.
Still, I don't really like the sound of it. I mean, isn't it bad enough that folks with money can pay to use Highway 407 and most folks are stuck on the 401? Do we really need to take this sort of system to our airports and give rich people more opportunities to stand apart from regular folks?
Amex says the new project will promote its brand and help Pearson strengthen its position as a major North American gateway. Yeah, maybe for elite business types, but not for you and me. Then again, Canadian airports long ago ceased to be affordable for average citizens. So maybe this is the best way for Pearson to stand out amongst the New York LaGuardia's and Chicago O'Hare's of the world....