Thursday 11 April 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 11/4/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Pushing the boat out: a cruise ship sails through Glacier Bay National Park

Image: Getty Images

Tourism / Gregory Scruggs

Cruise control

This year’s first cruises bound for Alaska have set sail from Seattle and Vancouver. Voyages to the Last Frontier are more popular than ever, with passenger numbers predicted to reach three million in October. The season’s inaugural sailing, however, was met with protests by the Red Rebel Brigade and Extinction Rebellion. Radical climate activists have earned a bad rep for glueing themselves to priceless artworks and other pointless shenanigans but calling out the environmental degradation that these floating hotels-cum-theme parks cause is perfectly justifiable.

In 2021, Venetian authorities barred cruise ships and other large vessels from entering the city’s lagoon. Though the ban has not yet been enforced, the message that it sent was clear. Glacier Bay National Park – which, like Venice, is protected by Unesco – should take a similarly confrontational stance. Though the cruise industry is well known to dump bilge and discharge fuel residue into the water, US and Canadian regulators have so far been reluctant to crack down on this practice. After all, it’s a golden goose that brings billions of dollars, as well as thousands of jobs, to Alaska, British Columbia and Washington state.

Travelling by sea is a perfectly logical way to visit the vast, roadless stretches of southeast Alaska but even if the cruise industry cleans up its act, the sight of a tacky ship bedecked with water slides would still mar the beauty of the region’s landscapes. Navigating the Inside Passage should be the concern of small ship operations with less offensive colour schemes, such as Uncruise Adventures and HX Hurtigruten Expeditions. On more appropriately scaled vessels, travellers tend to know how to settle in with a pair of binoculars and enjoy some of the world’s most breathtaking views.

Gregory Scruggs is Monocle’s Seattle correspondent. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings

Diplomacy / Turkey & Israel

Access denied

Turkey has announced restrictions on exports to Israel after Tel Aviv refused to allow it to airdrop aid over Gaza this week. According to the Turkish Ministry of Trade, the measures will affect 54 products, including steel and other construction materials. It’s a significant move: last year, Israel was Turkey’s 13th-largest export market. The restrictions will remain in place until a Gaza ceasefire deal is reached. Though Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has hardened his stance against Israel since the beginning of the conflict in Gaza, analysts believe that the decision to impose the new rules was spurred by domestic concerns. “Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party lost many provinces at the local elections,” Ankara-based journalist Victoria Craig tells Monocle Radio’s The Globalist. “People are saying that they want more concrete action to be taken against Israel and Erdogan is feeling the pressure.”

For more on Turkey’s export ban, tune in to Wednesday’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle Radio.


Design / Milan

Perfect brew

Premium luggage brand Rimowa has collaborated with La Marzocco to create a made-to-order coffee machine, which will be presented at Salone del Mobile, the Milan design fair that is taking place from 16 to 21 April this year. Every model is hand-built in Florence and the design echoes the aluminium ridges of Rimowa’s suitcases. To see the machine in action, visitors can stop off at the luggage brand’s pop-up café in Spazio Maiocchi.

“Salone resonates with our customers,” Emelie de Vitis, Rimowa’s senior vice-president of product and marketing, tells Monocle. “Many of them travel to Milan with our suitcases.” The LVMH-owned brand has previously worked with musical-instrument manufacturer Gewa on a violin case, Aesop on a travel-beauty kit and Tiffany & Co on a jewellery box. But this collaboration is the Köln-based label’s first foray into hospitality and a significant step in its efforts to become a fully fledged lifestyle business.

For more on Rimowa’s collaboration, as well as everything you need to know about this year’s trade fair, pick up a copy of Monocle’s ‘Salone del Mobile Special’ newspaper, which is out now.

Image: Kevin Serna

Art / USA

Playing to the gallery

Artists and collectors are gathering in the Windy City today for Expo Chicago. Launched in the 1980s, the international art fair made headlines last summer when it was acquired by Frieze. Some 170 exhibitors are taking part in this year’s edition, including Paris’s Perrotin and New York’s Kasmin Gallery, as well as local galleries such as Monique Meloche.

Expo Chicago also features projects and presentations by more than 20 non-profit organisations and institutions. By acquiring the fair, Frieze intended to further its status as a major player in the US art market and tap into Chicago’s vibrant cultural life.
Expo Chicago takes place inside the city’s Navy Pier until 14 April.

Beyond the Headlines

Thought patterns: Laduma Ngxokolo

Image: Laduma Ngxokolo

Q&A / Laduma Ngxokolo

Weaving magic

Laduma Ngxokolo is the founder and creative director of Maxhosa Africa, a South African knitwear brand that’s making a splash on the global fashion scene. Here, he tells us about his label, which blends local textile styles with high-end luxury.

What do you want to achieve with Maxhosa Africa?
We want to highlight the economic benefits of textiles and fashion, and change people’s minds about Africa. We also want to show that it’s possible to build an internationally recognised luxury brand that’s rooted in the continent.

How did you get into the fashion business?
I grew up alongside my siblings in a home where we made products with our mother, who was a tailor and knitwear designer. By the time we reached high school we already had the know-how to become entrepreneurs. When we became adults the process of making and selling products became instinctual.

Tell us about the brand’s growth.
It took time for us to believe that we could establish a brand on the southern tip of the continent. This year we are taking part in international runway events, including Paris Fashion Week, and are also planning to set up our first shop in New York.

For our full interview with Laduma Ngxokolo, tune in to the latest ‘Eureka’ episode of ‘The Entrepreneurs’ on Monocle Radio.

Monocle Films / Hospitality

Ikuchijima: Japanese island revival

The best hospitality projects delight visitors as much as locals. In this vein, businessman Yuta Oka transformed a series of historic buildings in the small town of Setoda into charming inns, a coffee roaster, a public bathhouse and more. Join us on a jaunt to the Seto Inland Sea.


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