Forget the old ship-to-shore phone.
Today's cruise lines are wired, wireless, and completely
Ever since Odysseus steered for Troy, ships at sea have been
isolated satellites of human endeavor, cut off from the shore and
the ever-pressing demands of everyday, dry-land existence.
But soon, all that will be ancient history.
In just a few short years, the telecommunications revolution has
seized command of nearly every cruise ship - from cutting-edge stem
to luxury stern. And with new advances coming at a dizzying speed,
the key decisions aren't so much whether passengers can call
anywhere, anytime, or click online at anyplace onboard, but whether
protocol demands that at least some of the communicating be limited
to discrete locations so as not to disrupt passengers who are happy
to leave it all behind.
Welcome aboard, for example, the newly commissioned Carnival Valor,
110,000 tons of fun that hosts nearly 3,000 passengers (based on
double occupancy). Every square inch of its staterooms, cabins,
bars, and deck chair space has wireless Internet access. Carnival
Cruise Lines is also negotiating with wireless-service providers to
make it possible for every brand of cellphone to call anywhere in
the world from its ships.
"Once, one of the attractions of the cruise was to get away from it
all," says Carnival's Jennifer de la Cruz. "Thirty years ago, you
had to go to a radio room to make a call. But things have changed.
The fact is that people want to stay connected via e-mail and via