This is a roundup of news that I have come across during the day. Read about a Royal Caribbean cruise to nowhere, Thailand is opening its borders to everyone, American’s favorite credit card will surprise you, Hanoi hotel coated in 24-karat gold, Dubai’s audacious Heart of Europe megaproject and another Italian town selling €1 homes.
A Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. ship is back in Singapore on what was meant to be day three of a four-day cruise to nowhere after a positive COVID-19 case was identified on board early Wednesday. About 2,000 passengers aboard the Quantum of the Seas vessel were informed of the development by the ship’s captain over the public announcement system at about 2:45 a.m. local time. The passenger who tested positive was isolated while officials traced their contacts.
Thailand has announced that it will be opening its borders to just about all foreign tourists, regardless of the COVID-19 situation in their country of origin. The country’s tourism sector has taken a massive nose dive as a result of border restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to recent research, there are more store cards in circulation than any other kind of credit card. In fact, as of 2018, there were a whopping 392 million store cards in circulation compared with 337.7 million Visa cards, 230.66 million Mastercards, 57.2 million Discover cards, and 53.7 million American Express cards.
A five-star hotel in Vietnamese capital Hanoi has opened with a twist that it hopes will attract guests with intimately expensive tastes: gold-plated bath tubs, basins and even toilets, all housed behind a massive golden exterior. The Dolce Hanoi Golden Lake Hotel has made the extra effort to bring visitors back to Vietnam where the tourism sector is slowly reopening after a three-month coronavirus lockdown.
Nearly two decades in the making, the Heart of Europe forms just one section of The World — a vast collection of man-made islands roughly in the shape of an atlas — but when completed it will be the opulent centerpiece. In the middle of a pandemic, it could yet prove to be a work of genius in its efforts to recreate the continent of Europe for upscale vacationers unwilling to make the trek.
Castropignano, a medieval village carved into the hills about 140 miles southeast of Rome, is joining the growing list of Italian towns selling their vacant homes for as little as €1. Many of Castropignano’s €1 homes boast river views, according to CNN, but buyers will have to do some work before they can sit back and enjoy those vistas. Like Italy’s other bargain houses, Castropignano’s €1 homes require significant restoration and remodeling. Buyers will also have to make their case to the town’s mayor before they can begin work.