Royal Caribbean offers trade 10-day Wi-Fi trial

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by Natasha Salmon

Royal Caribbean International’s decision to extend a free Wi-Fi promotion to the trade has been welcomed, but the 10-day limit has been questioned.

From tomorrow (November 18), agents will be able to offer customers free Wi-Fi on selected European and Dubai sailings of six nights or more between January 1 and October 28, 2017. The promotion ends on November 28.

The offer was previously only available to customers who booked direct for a six-week test period, prompting complaints from agents, although the line said it always planned to roll it out to the trade.

Denise Hodgson, a partner at Travel the World 2 in Cheshire, welcomed the move but said the promotion seemed ‘unbalanced’.

“This would have been more welcome if it had come to agents in the first place. How will they be able to compare? If this is still part of the test, it is unbalanced as it is not running for the same period.”

Ben Bouldin, Royal sales director, stood by the promotion, saying: “I said from day one it was a test and we would offer it to the trade. It is for just 10 days, but if successful it will be considered for future campaigns and run for longer. If it works really well it could become a more mainstream part of our campaigns.”

Bouldin added: “Our research shows connectivity is an absolute priority for holidaymakers.

“We have just launched our November campaign and we thought the free Wi-Fi would be a good overlay before we head into a strong selling period around Thanksgiving and Black Friday.”

Royal’s November promotion includes a 25% discount on 2017 European and Dubai sailings, up to $400 onboard spend and low deposits from £25 per person.

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Silversea makes free WiFi available to all guests

Starting with voyages departing in January, every Silversea Cruises guest will get at least one free hour of WiFi per day, and guests staying in high-end accommodations will receive unlimited WiFi.

The policy applies to all cruises, including expedition sailings. Silversea called its offer unprecedented in the industry.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises, for example, offers complimentary WiFi on some voyages, to gold-level Seven Seas Society members, and to suite passengers, with the amount of wireless access dependent on the category.

Seabourn also offers complimentary WiFi packages to Seabourn Club members at and above the Silver level and in some suite categories.

Crystal Cruises will offer free WiFi to Crystal Society members starting this fall.

Passengers in Silversea’s Owner’s, Grand, Royal, Silver and Medallion suites on the line’s ocean ships will receive unlimited WiFi. On expedition ships, unlimited WiFi applies to the following accommodations:

  • Silver Explorer: Owner’s, Grand, Silver, Medallion and Expedition suites.
  • Silver Galapagos: Silver, Deluxe Veranda and Veranda suites.
  • Silver Discoverer: Medallion, Veranda and Vista suites.

Get away from it all? Cruise passengers want MORE…….

Get away from it all? Cruise passengers want MORE intrusion from the outside world with free wifi the innovation they’d most like to see on ships (…it can cost £20 an hour)

  • Poll of 1,000 passengers found demand for internet access was top
  • But logging on can prove costly…and the signal can struggle at sea
  • Experts say younger travellers like to share holidays on social media 

With their on-board entertainment and air of relaxed seclusion, cruise liners seem the ideal place to get away from it all.

But it appears that what holidaymakers really want is more intrusion from the outside world.

Almost nine in ten passengers said free wifi and email access is the innovation they would most like to see on cruise ships, a poll found.

Get connected: nine in ten passengers said free wifi and email access is the innovation they would most like to see on cruise ships

Get connected: nine in ten passengers said free wifi and email access is the innovation they would most like to see on cruise ships

With many now including smartphones and tablets in their luggage, travellers increasingly expect to be able to browse the internet even when far from land. And while many liners try to accommodate their demands with wifi hotspots, logging on can prove costly at up to £20 an hour.

There are also problems with repeated signal interruptions and slow service. ‘This is a particularly prevalent issue for younger families,’ said Sukie Rapal of Cruise.co.uk, which carried out the poll of 1,000 passengers.

‘Teenagers use their devices to stay in touch with friends on social media, access mobile applications and play games – meaning cruisers are susceptible to receiving a very unexpected cost at the end of their trip.’

The demand for better internet access is partly down to the falling average age of passengers, which the survey found has dropped from 60 to 55 years in the last decade.

‘With a 195 per cent rise in the number of searches for cruises on mobile devices this Christmas, it’s apparent that cruisers have become more tech savvy,’ she added.

‘Cruisers need to do their research to find the most reasonable rates for wifi use, because if they fail to do so, it could end up costing them more than the holiday itself.’

Get away from it all? No thanks: Many travellers increasingly expect to be able to browse the internet even when far from land

Get away from it all? No thanks: Many travellers increasingly expect to be able to browse the internet even when far from land

The poll also showed that world class entertainment came high up on cruisers’ wishlists, while around a fifth said their biggest demand was flat screen televisions in their cabins.

The least desired innovation was robot barmen, which have already been installed on a Royal Caribbean ship. Just one per cent said they were interested in seeing these on board.

The most popular ocean destination for this year is the Far East, while Europe’s Danube is the preferred river trip.