November 22, 2000
Crystal Cruises is the latest line to upgrade its email capabilities by offering 24-hour access to its on-ship web centers. The company was somewhat of a pioneer in launching its Computer University at Sea facility more than three years ago (gasp!) -- which is equipped, on both the Harmony and Symphony, with more than 25 laptops, and email and Internet access. One relatively distinctive feature (although the QE2 offers a similar program) is Crystal’s tutorials. The line hires instructors to travel on cruises and teach passengers computer skills that range from using Microsoft Windows and sending e-mail to more advanced subjects such as manipulating digital images and using a personal data assistant. But Crystal is not the only cruise line currently upgrading systems. In the design of Holland America’s new Amsterdam, an Internet cafe, with an elegant mahogany-walled ambiance, is tucked into an alcove next to its coffee bar; in addition to typical Internet and email usage, passengers can also send video postcards. Royal Caribbean’s just-launched Explorer of the Seas also has a nifty new computer center as part of its double-decker library. Video-ing technology is included as well. The hottest new feature, which is still pretty hard to find, is cruise line’s allowing in-stateroom access. But beware: whatever onboard option you choose, staying in touch on the high seas comes with a princely tab. There’s relief, though; entrepreneurs all over the world have figured that out and port-side cybercafes are increasingly common.