November 6, 2002
Norwegian Cruise Line's launching a new service for news junkies -- call it the second generation of cruising's onboard "newspapers". The traditional New York Times "fax" collection of daily news nuggets is being replaced with the real thing. Well, almost. Just launched on four NCL ships -- Star, Sun, Wind and the Norway -- passengers can choose from a list of ten publications, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today. The newspapers, delivered to staterooms, are in an 11 x 17 format, printed on both sides, and include full text and even photographs. The service will be rolled out fleetwide after January 1. A couple of caveats. There is, of course, a charge. NCL has established a $3.95 fee per paper per day (you don't have to commit for the entire cruise) which, while significantly pricier than buying a copy at your local newsstand, still amounts to about what you'd pay in a foreign country. And there's no guarantee that you'll get all of it -- NewspaperDirect, the service provider who negotiates with individual newspapers and then transmits the content via satellite -- cannot guarantee that. Content provided is at each publisher's discretion. Typically that'll mean you won't get negligible (on vacation anyway) sections like classifieds or advertising circulars but you could also miss out on sports or features. While NCL plans to offer a regular selection of ten more commonly known newspapers, which also will include foreign publications such as International Herald Tribune, passengers who can't enjoy the cruise without their Boston Globe or Seattle Times, not to mention the New Zealand Dominion Post or Japan's Okinawa Times, can also make special requests from a list of about 150 newspapers. The charge for special requests is significantly higher -- expect to pay somewhere between $10 - $15 per copy. Passengers place orders once they've boarded their cruise. Norwegian Cruise Line is the first major line to commit to this program but other cruise lines are trying it out on a trial basis. Passengers on Holland America's Volendam and Amsterdam have access to the service and other lines (Carnival's rumored) are planning their own test efforts.