Early space travel was never going to be cheap…
When I came up with the story of Hotel Caledonia (mission 7 of Black Ocean: Mercy for Hire), the idea of subsea cruising was supposed to be part of the futuristic novelty. The Venetian Dream was a submarine kitted out like a luxury yacht, ferry a select group of wealthy guests on a multi-day underwater adventure.
So much for the “fiction” in science fiction.
A company called U-Boat Worx has designed a 123-foot (37m) cruise ship that doubles as a submarine. While it’s meant to be primarily a surface ship, it will be capable of venturing underwater to avoid hazardous surface conditions. It’s not a stretch to imagine that some of the passengers may also enjoy the novelty afforded by the alternative mode of travel.
Typically, life aboard a submarine is associated with close quarters, minimal amenities, and military service. Many people get claustophobic just taking a tour of one on the surface.
How does that change when the close quarters expand into room to lounge? When Spartan conditions give way to opulence? When life aboard becomes a vacation instead of combat duty?
One of the things I’ve always found interesting about submarines is the parallels to what early space exploration might be like. Not the quick to-and-from rides to a space station in Earth orbit or a few days of scientific experiments and deploying satellites. I mean actual extended missions living and working in an enclosed environment, traveling long distances, and totally reliant on the resources contained within, both human and material.
Sci-fi space travel reaching a mass audience in real life needs a number of intermediate steps before it becomes a reality. One baby step along that path is making enclosed-vessel travel appealing to the people who can afford to fund its development.
Check out the original Gizmodo article to learn more about the luxury submarine concept.