Monday, November 28, 2011

Give a Little, Get a Lot: Free IPads At Sea

Last week, Royal Caribbean announced that it would be equipping its 1800-passenger Splendour of the Seas with IPads in every stateroom. They would be available to passengers in the cabin or to carry around the ship and were to be used to access daily schedules, order rooms service, view restaurant menus, book shore excursions, watch movies and oh yes, access the internet.

Schooner Lounge (A Dombrowski photo)
So, in one savvy swoop, Royal Caribbean has gotten rid of the considerable expense of printing daily itinerary sheets (one would assume), and put into place what will undoubtedly be a huge income generator. I'm speaking of the internet access on these handy tablets. Unlike the shipboard functions for the I-Pads (preloaded ship maps, the ability to book restaurant reservations, etc.) Wifi will not be free. Far from it. As anybody who's ever had the unpleasant obligation of having to work remotely while at sea, the internet fees will remain killer. On its site, RCL lists internet access fees as being $35 for 60 minutes and $55 for 100 minutes (here's the complete list).

Xince the majority of passengers don't travel with their laptops and don't end up using the on-board computers that much, these outrageous fees haven't been as much of an issue as they could be. With the temptation of an I-Pod in every cabin, well, sticker shock on this front is going to explode.

And Wifi is likely just the tip of the iceberg. Think of all the videos and photos people will take on those IPads. Fees haven't been announced for the download of those, but my guess is they'll be substantial.

Royal Caribbean will be equipping its five other "Vision Class" ships with IPads within the next two years. So alongside your bikini, pack your willpower folks. Cause cruising's extra costs are about to get exponentially higher.

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