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Evolution Of Free WiFi On Ships

In the hotel industry, it started — at least for us — with Best Western. Free WiFi. In those days, it was a bonus because most hotels were charging up to $20 a night for checking your email. The next phase was free WiFi in the lobby and, today, most hotels offer some kind of Internet connection without a charge and soon, we suspect, all will.

NavigatorThe same thing is happening with airports, to the point where travelers now expect they won’t have to pay to go online.

Enter cruise ships.

If there was a more expensive venue for connecting than on cruise ships a few years ago, none of us knows what it was. And guess what? Every week, another cruise line is dropping the price…to zero.

The latest is Regent Seven Seas.

When the 2016-17 cruise season arrives, so will free Internet. Unlimited WiFi. On all ships. For all passengers. Anywhere on the ship. For all devices. Regent’s also including more free land tours on 11 sailings in Asia and Africa, with four ports of call Regent passengers have never before seen, plus 56 sailings ranging from seven to 128 days long.

But when Regent made the announcement, the carrot — the first line of type – was free WiFi.

Now to be fair, it’s probably easier for an upscale line that charges much more for cruises than the mass-market lines do, and for a line with a small fleet of smaller ships, to eat the lost revenue of free Internet. Why, you might ask, wouldn’t a cruise line like this announce it was giving passengers the free WiFi package immediately, and not wait until 2016-17?

Our guess is it’s because cruises between now and then are sold out.

In the news…

• Cruise lines, passengers, crew spent $21 billion in U.S. in 2014
• Free Trace Adkins concert in Dallas last weekend by Carnival
• Viking boss and Mayor of Bergen both deny corruption charges

Today at portsandbows.com: Britannia to move after a year in Barbados


Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas
4 nights
December 7, 2015
Miami (return): Nassau, CocoCay, Key West
Inside: $195
Cost per day: $48
www.royalcaribbean.com

Cruise Gambling…Cruise WiFi

News item: Cayman Islands government attempting to legalize gambling on cruise ships.

There is no gambling in the Cayman Islands, which seems a little odd considering that the Caymans have long been known as a place extremely wealthy people can hide money so they don’t have to pay taxes. That’s irrelevant, of course, when it comes to gambling on cruise ships. What is relevant is that the government is proposing allowing gambling on (a) ships registered there (b) passenger ships carrying more than 12 people (c) ships in international waters and on an international voyage between Cayman and another port.

Here’s the catch…

Gambling’s not allowed on ships in port or in Cayman’s territorial waters.

What are we missing here? Can’t cruise ships with casinos open the slots once they’re in international waters?

“This bill is aimed solely at the cruise ship industry,” said a government official.

It must be for the ships with 12 passengers.

News item: Carnival announced it expanded its innovative hybrid connectivity system to create the cruise industry’s largest WiFi network.

Okay, isn’t it time that somebody invented a gizmo to measure WiFi size? Doesn’t anybody have a gigabyte meter? In all that cyberspace, how does anyone really know who’s on first? Or second? Or even in the same ballpark?

In the last months, there have been Internet/WiFi announcements by three cruise lines, all of them crowing about having the biggest, best, fastest service at sea. If it’s a game, then we need a Commissioner of WiFi to tell us who really is the best…or does it really matter?

If your Internet service on a cruise ship is fast enough to make you happy, that’s good enough.

Isn’t it?

In the news…

• Unlimited and free Internet now on all Regent Seven Seas ships
• Five-year deal for better Glacier Bay access for American Cruise Lines
• Santa Cruz II replaces Santa Cruz I after 36 years to the Galapagos

Today at portsandbows.com: Disney flying high wirh Star Wars


Carnival Elation
5 nights
November 28, 2015
New Orleans (return): Cozumel, Progreso
Inside: $249
Cost per day: $49
www.carnival.com

Up In The Air Over Free WiFi!!!

You travel. You cruise. You hear the word "Norwegian" and you don't think about a tall Scandinavian or an Olympic athlete from Norway, competing in Sochi this week. You think about the cruise line.

We did.

Yesterday, another "Norwegian" popped up on our computer and it wasn't an Olympic athlete or a cruise ship.

It was an airline. It's not Norwegian Air, Airlines or Airways. Just Norwegian and you might like to take note of it for two reasons.

One, its fares from North America to Europe are competitive, to say the least. New York to Oslo for $242. New York to Stockholm for $257. New York to London for Norwegian-Anzassin$192. Including taxes, and these are starting prices. Norwegian also flies out of Fort Lauderdale.

Two, Norwegian offers free WiFi (most flights). That's right…fly for six hours and be online the entire time without paying a dime. That's what caught our attention because maybe there will be more free WiFi on airlines…and maybe in time it will spread to cruise ships.

There are reportedly 650,000 locations in 144 countries where you can locate free WiFi by using an app called WiFi Finder. It's also free.

Who doesn't like free stuff…especially when it's WiFi?

Remember. Norwegian is more than a cruise line.

-photo by Anzassin

Norwegian Jade
10 nights
April 2, 2014
Rome (return): OlympiaAthensEphesusIstanbulNaples
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $44
www.ncl.com

Free WiFi Crystal's Tip Of The Iceberg

Remember where you heard this first: Keep watching for free Internet on cruise ships.

The industry took another step in that direction this week when Crystal Cruises, near the top end of the luxury spectrum, threw WiFi into its all-inclusive packaging. Right now, it's for Crystal's First Society members (repeat cruisers) and it's possible because the cruise line recently completed a multi-million dollar upgrade.

Crystal SymphonyThe genie, as they say, is out of the bottle.

In this age of digital and satellite communication, cruise lines have realized how vital it is for their passengers to be able to "stay in touch" through their variousdevices. In fact, they've realized what a plus it is when you're the cruise line that makes it easiest and least costly…as in free.

Similarly, coffee shops and department stories and supermarkets and restaurants and any number of public places become more attractive when they offer free Internet. You can say the cruise line was slow in falling in line, but you need to realize the dominoes, as they say, are bigger.

Thousand of dollars on land can be millions at sea. That Crystal can offer 60 minutes of wireless service a day everywhere on its ships, to repeat customers who are two-timers or fifty-timers, means the cruise line has found a way to cover the cost. It may be more repeat customers, or it may be the one-timers who will pay 75 cents a minute to be online.

One day, it says here, the mass-market cruise lines will be…in the same boat.

Celebrity Constellation
5 nights
February 22, 2014
Fort Lauderdale (return): Key WestCozumel
Inside: $249
Cost per day: $49
www.celebritycruises.com

Free Wireless in The Big Apple

It would be great to be in New York right now. Well, it would be great to be in New York anytime, wouldn't it?

Right now would be appropriate because then we could try out the free WiFi that's sponsored by Norwegian's soon-to-be new ship, the Breakaway, which arrives in its permanent North American home in early May. If we could try it out, we'd be able to tell you more accurately why Norwegian is giving a chunk of New York free WiFi…for the month of February.

Is it just a "brand awareness" thing, to make sure New Yorkers who haven't heard that Norwegian wants to be "New York's" ship?

Is every person accessing the free WiFi going to see a page of Breakaway advertising before they get to that "I accept" button?

Is Norwegian going to offer deals to its free WiFi users this month, in the hope that they'll take their laptops and iPads and iPhones on the big ship sometime?

Norwegian is partnering with Boingo Wireless on this venture, and the free WiFi is at all three of the area's airports (JFK, LaGuardia and Newark) and at select subway stations in the Big Apple. Presumably, when you look up from your device, you won't be able to miss a picture of the Breakaway on a nearby wallboard or billboard, but we can't say that for sure because we're not there.

Alas.


Norwegian Star
7 nights
February 17, 2013
New Orleans (return): Costa Maya, Belize, Roatan, Cozumel
Inside: $349
Cost per day: $49
www.ncl.com

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