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Gambling in the 21st Century Spreading to Ships in Ports and Pool Decks on Ships

Sometime soon, which is to say in the next few months, nine of Celebrity's 11 ships will be outfitted with technology that will allow passengers to gamble on their phones and/or tablets while on a ship that's in international waters. Bringing the casino to the patrons, as it were. About the time this was announced, Bermuda's government was passing a bill allowing passengers to gamble on ships in the popular port after nine o'clock at night. If something can ever be a safe bet (pun intended), these two "gambles" qualify.

Gambling is almost everywhere in the 21st century. You can debate the social fallout long into the night, or the year, but you cannot debate the popularity. Drive by a casino at any time it is open and see how many cars are in the parking lot…any casino, any parking lot. Check out casino entertainment and note how many of the headliners are performing long after you would have expected them to retire…hello there, Frankie Valli, who's 79 and still worth the price of admission.

Casinos are part of the fabric of life now, and that's why the Celebrity decision and the Bermuda vote are safe bets. Both will be popular moves, no matter what Gamblers Anonymous might say.

The Bermuda move was more or less expected. At stake was the future of cruise ships going there.

The Celebrity strategy is unique, but maybe it shouldn't be. Our resident expert, Phil Reimer of Ports and Bows, has discovered that 40 per cent of cruise revenue comes from on-board products…and table games and slot machines play a significant part. So why wouldn't Celebrity (or any cruise line) want to find new ways to maximize that?

On ships in the Solstice Class (5) and the Millennium Class (4), here's how it will work:

1. Passengers will create a virtual wallet at the casino desk (think credit card)

2. They will download a free app, Cantor Mobile Casino, to their smartphones or tablets via WiFi

3. Table games, slot machines or video poker will be available for their Apple and Android devices anywhere on the ship.

Will this mobile gaming take people deeper into gambling? Maybe. However, if people choose to gamble nowadays, they don't have far to go, do they?

You can't always protect people from themselves.

Celebrity Constellation
12 nights
November 12, 2013
Istanbul (return): EphesusBodrumRhodes, Marmaris, SantoriniAthensMykonosCrete
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $41
www.celebritycruises.com

Whale of an Invention for Seafarers

A story about a new app is, well, interesting.

Here's the story:

A new iOS app called Whale Alerts is designed to help mariners avoid collisions with endangered North American right whales by displaying whale locations on a real-time, digital map.

This raises several interesting points.

1. The news item is incorrect. An iOS is an operating system for Macs, sold by Apple and used on iBooks, iPhones, iPods and iPads. An IOS — note the capital "I" — is an Inter-Organizational System that involves the flow of information between two (or more) organizations. In this case, between a ship and a whale, although nobody told the whale about it. This is an Apple app, primarily for iPads, but not an operating system.

2. To help all of us who do not know right whales from wrong whales, this enables all of us to be better educated. They are "baleen" whales — hey, one lesson a bog is enough — that are called "right" because they're the right ones to hunt. The reason they're the right ones is they float when killed, swim near land and are not shy about approaching boats. Well, that's one theory, which by some is more of an old wives' tale…or an old fisherman's tale. Endangered? Only 400 are left.

3. While it's hard to imagine that the captain of a cruise ship would find this gizmo useful, there is a rumor circulating that its real purpose on cruise ships is to locate the guys who make too many visits to the buffet.

Whale Finder, right?


Carnival Sensation
4 nights
September 30, 2012
Port Canaveral (return): Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $189
Cost per day: $47
www.carnival.com

 

Cunard Cruise Ships All 'Apple Up'

How long, somebody was asking us the other day, have you been "Mac people"? How long is forever?

It was a high school teacher who introduced us to the world of Apple. If only the people at Cunard had met Gordon DeVito when we did.

By our estimation, it was at least 20 years ago that he began the arduous task of explaining "desktop publishing" to us on something called a MacPlus. Fast forward to today. Apple has blossomed, to say the least. The richest company in the world now enables us to create pages of everything from documents to books on MacBooks and iPads, to put all of our music on a mini-computer called an iPod that fits in our pocket or purse, and to reach the Internet (who knew there was an Internet?) on a telephone called the iPhone that's smaller than most wallets.

And, in the case of Cunard, to offer courses and seminars to people on all its cruise ships so that they'll better understand the world of Apple.

That's the "i" world, of course.

As if there is anything left to preface by the "i" letter, Cunard has come up with iStudy. The workshops were on the Queen Elizabeth when it was launched in 2010, which must have been the best-kept secret in cruising. Now that the iStudy is also on the Queen Victoria and the Queen Mary 2, it's time to tell the world that Cunard is in bed with, or at least being romanced by, Apple.

Says Peter Shanks, President of Cunard: “The concept is great for those who are already confident with Apple products as well as for those who want to try out an iPad or learn how to get the best out of devices they already own.”

That's more or less what Gordon DeVito said a couple of decades ago.

Carnival Glory
6 nights
May 15, 2012
Norfolk, VA (return): Nassau, Freeport
Inside: $529
Cost per day: $88
www.carnival.com

Epic Passengers Can Stay in Touch

Do you ever wonder if Steve Jobs could have iMagined the depth of his iCreations? Just when the world has become accustomed to the iMac, the iPhone, the iPod, the iPad and the iWorld, along comes the iConcierge.

This creation is the work of Norwegian Cruise Line, for use on its Epic, the flagship of the fleet until the arrival of the first of its two Breakaway Class ships next year.

By using the free smart-phone app called iConcierge, passengers on the Epic will be able to interact with guest information and service systems throughout the cruise, and communicate with other smart-phone users (voice and text) on the same cruise.

So, even on a ship as big as the Epic, none of them will get lost.

How likely is it that iConcierge, or a reasonable facsimile, will spread? These two “communicators” hope that it will work in small areas that don’t float on the ocean.

A few years ago, we accidentally became separated on the streets of Florence, Italy. It’s a long story how long that accident lasted, without an iConcierge and a GPS, but with one-way streets and a language barrier. The short version is that one of us (the navigator) stood on a street corner for about four hours waiting for her driver, who was going in circles looking for the street corner.

It probably wouldn’t have happened to Steve Jobs.

DAILY DEAL:
Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas
12 nights
May 24, 2012
Bayonne, NJ (return): Bermuda, St. Maarten, San Juan, Labadee, Bermuda
Inside: $958
Cost per day: $80
www.royalcaribbean.com

iRoom Internet Access for Visions

Yesterday, we were reading a press release from Royal Caribbean about the enhancements that will be made to the six Vision Class ships when they go into dry-dock over the next two years.

They had us at “iPad.”

When Splendour of the Seas emerges from its facelift early in 2012, there will be iPads in every stateroom. This is a revolutionary step, and only a little bit surprising in view of the fact that Celebrity ships with their iLounges seemed to have some kind of exclusive agreement with Apple, or so we were led to believe.

On the other hand, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are sister cruise lines, under the Royal Caribbean corporate umbrella.

What’s such a big deal about the iPads?

For one thing, whether the PC lovers like it or not, the iPad is the most highly regarded tablet in the computer industry. Also the most popular. Having all passengers with room access to an iPad is going to enable them to monitor their onboard account, watch movies, access the daily schedule and personal itineraries, check out restaurant menus and order room service. In other words, everything passengers have been doing on the room TVs.

Oh yes, and did we say they can go online?

Therein lies the real winner for Royal Caribbean. Having the Internet at their fingertips is likely to encourage customers to use it more — at a cost, of course — than they would by visiting the computer area and waiting for a machine to be available.

How long until iPads go viral in the Royal Caribbean family?

DAILY DEAL:
Norwegian Dawn
10 nights
March 18, 2012
Miami (return): Southern Caribbean
Inside $719
www.ncl.com

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