Smartphones, smart watches, smart boards, now smart ships. Cruise ships, that is. For any of you who have previous traveled aboard a vessel of the sea, you know the struggles of on-board internet. Super slow speeds, practically dial-up, on the few computers in the "library" room keep ships stuck in the late 20th century. Well, not anymore. Royal Caribbean has announced their new SmartShips and Carnival has announced their new "Got Wifi?" campaign, with other cruise lines quickly following the fleets.
Fortune magazine does a good job of mentioning three key points to this new innovation incorporated into the ships - a step toward the future, new customer opportunities, and customer satisfaction. Faster wi-fi is the key to these upcoming successes in the cruising industry. "O3b Networks, a company that provides ship-to-shore communication systems, started working with Royal Caribbean back in 2011 to upgrade its internet connections. It developed a new type of high-throughput satellite which quadrupled connection speeds, according to Steve Collar, O3b’s CEO". These new speeds transport cruising from a pre-connected time into the current era. Because of the new internet availability found on board, businesses can now take their business conferences, training, and other trips via cruise ships without losing connection to the business world they need to stay connected with while on the trip. Whether this be via internet communications or simply business workers working on the vacation, it means many new customers for cruise lines. But business workers aren't the only new clients gained; millennials that can't seem to be separated from their connections can now stay connected while cruising, opening a whole new world to them. With wi-fi so readily available now, people stay connected to social media, posting and sharing how much they're loving their cruise-cation, thereby promoting the cruising company and expanding their customers in that aspect as well. After a few trials of the new wi-fi systems were imposed, customer satisfaction jumped 50% because of the connections now available. Such improvement shows wi-fi is a strongly desired aspect of life nowadays, and now not only is it readily accessible from the seas, but the accessibility and connectivity are ever expanding and increasing to support the high demand of the quick-paced connected world we live in.
Unfortunately, the Fortune article fails to mention the losses this new implementation brings forth. It also focuses only on the wi-fi aspect although it is clear more advanced technologies are involved in the new smart ships emerging.
While it is true that this is a major step for cruise lines and cruise-goers, the importance of escaping the prison of a strong cellular or internet connection shouldn't be given up so easily. The world is full of natural beauty, and cruises are certainly a great way to get to experience a lot of that beauty, but if your nose is in your phone 24/7, why bother going on a cruise when you could do the same thing from home?