Cruising is something that is near and dear to my heart. As someone who grew up very poor, my family never went on holiday - it was a waste of money. This was the mindset that I was raised to have, thinking travel was stupid, when money can go towards bills. This thinking was dangerous though, as I became an adult that almost never left New York. It's a cliche, but life is short, and it is silly not to see the world.
What broke this frugal trance was cruising. While a normal vacation is very expensive and far from my grasp, a cruise can be very affordable as all food is included. Over the last 8 years, I have been on 7 Royal Caribbean cruises, and a couple of weeks ago, I went on my first Celebrity cruise (it's the same company). Unfortunately, technology on the ships has been very lacking. As a computer nerd, not having tech was maddening, although sometimes freeing too. Now Royal Caribbean has appealed to nerds, with the help of Microsoft, as its Quantum of the Seas ship goes high-tech.
"Quantum of the Seas will operate with unprecedented bandwidth using satellites launched by tech partner O3b Networks. With speeds that match fast broadband connections onshore, guests can be online 24/7, no matter what personal device they bring onboard. Guests can watch streaming video, check email, share images on social media and enjoy face-to-face video conversations - even in the middle of the ocean", says Royal Caribbean.
This is great news, as the on-ship Wi-Fi has historically been slow and useless. Actually, it has also proven to be expensive, so on all of my cruises, I just forgo the internet. This is a shame, because sharing pictures of a vacation with loved-ones back home would be very cool. As great as improved internet speed and bandwidth is, price will determine how cool it really is.
Read more: UK broadband "unambitious and inadequate"
Holiday-makers aren't the only ones to get new tech; Microsoft is helping the staff to be more productive. The company explains, "Royal Caribbean Cruises International is providing its 40,000 crew members with Windows 8.1 tablets. Crew members of Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, will be the first to receive the 8-inch Windows-based tablets built by HEXA for the cruise line. The tablets will feature services such as Bing, Skype, Office 365 and OneDrive. Rollout will begin in October and is expected to be completed by the end of December with every shipboard employee in the Royal Caribbean fleet receiving a tablet".
Even though the Windows tablets are for the staff, it should benefit holiday-makers too. Think about it; by empowering staff with greater access to information and communication, they can better help guests on the ship. By utilising Windows-based tablets exclusively, Royal Caribbean should see great productivity from employees without the headaches of managing multiple operating systems on the same network. For these tablets, I wonder if Microsoft should rename its operating system from "Windows" to "Portholes"...
Fans of robots are in for a treat, as they will be making your drinks. At some of the on-board bars, dubbed "Bionic", you can order your drink on a tablet and watch as a robot concocts it for you. Sure, it may be a gimmick and it probably takes a job from a human, but it is neat nonetheless.
So, are you a fan of cruising? Do you like these new tech upgrades? Tell me in the comments.