The changes are really an effort by RSSC to play catch up in the industry rather than make waves. Costa and NCL already offer at-sea cell service, and Carnival is currently the Wi-Fi bandleader, having ditched hot spots in favor of bow-to-stern access on Carnival Valor and Carnival Liberty. There is one innovation being announced, however -- as part of RSSC's new online booking options, passengers can make alternative restaurant reservations before they even back their bags.
Here's a complete rundown of what to expect:
New Online Booking Options: Guests who've made a deposit on their cruise can secure a table in advance for alternative restaurants and, coming soon, book appointments at the spa (a capability Princess introduced in 2004).
Upgraded Internet Bandwidth: In English, this simply means faster connections for Web-surfing passengers. And believe it or not, with speed comes savings -- the rate is now 35 cents per minute (or 25 cents per minute with a package of 100 minutes), much cheaper than the previous rate of 75 cents per minute.
Wi-Fi Hot Spots: Select public areas on each ship are now outfitted with Wi-Fi capabilities for guests with wireless-enabled laptops.
Expanded Television Programming: FOX News has been added to CNN on the in-room lineup via a new digital satellite feed.
At-Sea Cell Service: RSSC guests can now use cell phones equipped for international roaming while at sea; the per-minute cost is similar to Caribbean roaming charges regardless of itinerary, and folks will be billed by their individual phone provider. (This service is not available when ships are in port, or on Paul Gauguin's French Polynesia cruises.)