Tech Trends: Celebrity Cruises Takes Apple to Sea

February 22, 2010
cruise ship MacBook (6:20 p.m. EST) -- iPod, iPhone: What's next, the iCruise?

Not quite, although Celebrity Cruises has announced plans for an Internet cafe called the Celebrity iLounge, which -- as the name suggests -- will be big on Apple products. In fact, the cruise line has gone as far as to become an official reseller, which simply means you'll be able to buy Apple products onboard.

In addition to offering 26 MacBook Pro workstations and an "enrichment center" offering classes and tips on using Apple products, the iLounge will include a retail area where guests will be able to play with -- and purchase -- MacBooks, iPods and other accessories onboard.

The iLounge will debut onboard the new Celebrity Eclipse, due out in Southampton this April.

What's interesting about this announcement is how much thought some cruise lines are putting into their Internet offerings -- while others treat it as a mere afterthought. Consider the much-praised Seabourn Square on Seabourn Odyssey, which merges an Internet area with a coffee shop, library and general gathering place, and the cosy, coffee house atmosphere of the Explorations Cafes on Holland America Line's ships, part of a partnership with the New York Times.

Meanwhile, Celebrity's sister brand Royal Caribbean almost appears to have forgotten an Internet lounge; Oasis of the Seas, the biggest cruise ship on the planet, launched last November with a handful of computer terminals hidden in a space equivalent in size to two inside cabins.

"Our surveys show that our guests rely heavily on the Internet for research, learning and staying in touch," Celebrity Cruises' President and CEO Dan Hanrahan is quoted as saying in a press statement, "so we think this new offering will be a big hit, as will the contemporary online classes offered through the 'Discover' series of our inspiring and enriching 'Celebrity Life' experiences."

Guests using the iLounge, which is located on Deck 6, will be able to learn about creating photo books, editing movies and designing Web sites through popular Apple programs such as iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD and iWeb, while Apple novices can learn from scratch under the guidance of Apple-trained crew.

Although the cruise line has not announced plans to put an iLounge on Celebrity Solstice or Celebrity Equinox, the predecessors of Eclipse, it'll be a feature of Celebrity Silhouette, which launches in 2011, and the fifth ship in the line's Solstice class, which launches in 2012.

--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor