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5 Things to Know About Tech Friendly Cruises

Does your life style revolve around scanning your feed reader and checking YouTube for the latest Stephen Colbert video? Are you suffering from “carpel thumb” from using your Blackberry or Motorola Q to update your blog and read your email? Do you dream of a cruise vacation but dread leaving your wi-fi coffee shop world? Not to worry. You can travel and stay connected. You can exercise your mind, never break a sweat, and maybe even get a tan!

Cruise lines have recognized the value and buying power of the technology/information junkie but who is doing the best job?

  1. Holland America has premiered their Explorations Café, powered by the New York Times. These coffee house themed cafes are on all Holland America ships. They house one of the most extensive libraries at sea, internet stations with news, e-mail and the NY Times online edition. There are wireless hot spots throughout the café for your laptops. The ocean facing lounge chairs have Discovery Channel programming for their headsets. The New York Times crossword puzzles, spread throughout the room, are travel related and the Explorations Speaker Series features lectures and discussions related to the history and culture of the ports of call.
  2. Celebrity Cruise Lines offer Online@Celebrity. They have internet stations on every Celebrity ship. For a nominal fee they will even supply you with an e-mail address for use on board – and they’ll call your stateroom when “you have mail.” If you prefer the convenience and privacy of your own stateroom bring your laptop along and get one of the Connect@Sea kits. Celebrity also offers Computer Training At Sea. You can use your time to enhance your computer skills. If you’ve left home without your favorite music you can also rent an i-Pod while on a Celebrity ship.
  3. Celebrity Cruises and their sister company Royal Caribbean Lines also offer access to your own cell phone. Through their partnership with Wireless Maritime Services guests can make and receive calls on their own phones on select ships. The service will soon be throughout the fleet. The service activates when the ship leaves the range of the closest land based tower.
  4. Crystal Cruises also offers fleet wide WIFI access. They have simplified their Internet pricing plan with convenient packages offering the same prices for desktop or laptop use. They even have laptops on board for rent! Crystal is also launching their telephone service in October 2006. The luxury cruise line recently announced a partnership with Sea Mobile. Guests will be able to make and receive calls from anywhere in the world. They will also have access to other wireless services including text messaging and the use of PDAs.
  5. Crystal Cruises is also the place to be to stretch your brain muscles! Their 2007 World Cruise will feature unique opportunities to explore some of the most interesting enrichment at sea classes. There will be Memoir Writing, Repertory Theatre Acting Workshops, the Art Masterpiece Program- including mosaic workshops, mask making classes and a jewelry making segment. In an industry first guests on the full world voyage can earn three transferable college credits in Computer Science.

Most of the major cruise lines have Internet Cafes (or at least access) on their existing ships and are working hard to offer WIFI capabilities. As more new ships are ordered and built they will, no doubt, be already equipped. We’re in the “Information Age” and no one wants to lose a connection. So, fire up the laptop, charge the PDA and pass the sunscreen- you’re ready to go cruisin’!

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