In an effort to help passengers get the most out of their gadgets, luxury line Crystal Cruises is introducing a tutorial program called Technology Concierge, part of its ComputerUniversity@Sea offerings, which we've earmarked as some of the best enrichment options at sea.
While many lines have become more technology friendly -- for example, Princess Cruises loans out MP3 players in its adults-only Sanctuary, and Holland America and Disney Cruise Line are among those offering iPod-guided tours -- Crystal's program, dedicated to teaching passengers how to use these popular devices, is the first of its kind in the industry.
Slated to roll out on Crystal Symphony in April and Crystal Serenity in May, the free, one-on-one tutorials -- given by specially trained staffers, known as Technology Concierges -- will focus on the ins and outs of owning and operating MP3 players, GPS navigation systems and smartphones (like iPhones and Blackberrys). Individualized tips and pointers will be available by appointment, but walk-ins are also welcome.
"The instructors and staff in the ComputerUniversity@Sea have received an increasing number of questions about these gadgets, as they've become so much more popular for travel," says Julie Dibble, a Crystal spokeswoman who added that many passengers have already indicated their interest in the program.
While the newest electronic gizmos can be extremely useful, they can also cause even the most seasoned technology veterans to reach for the aspirin. From PDA's to GPS's, the abbreviations alone are enough to make your head spin. Crystal plans to have several of the newest devices on hand for those passengers who want to learn about, but who do not yet own, them. However, Crystal officials say the devices featured in the tutorials will not be for sale.
As an extension of the program, Crystal also plans to make popular technology publications available to passengers in its ships' Bistro Cafes.
We want to know how you use your technological devices at sea. Do you tap your Blackberry's GPS feature to navigate through foreign ports? Do you receive weather updates on your iPhone to decide how to dress for your next shore excursion? Vote in our poll!
--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor