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Carnival Boosts WiFi On Cruise Ships For Social Media

More Americans are taking vacations aboard cruise ships than ever before, but the rate of growth has slowed, according to Cruise Line International Association, which show that the total number of U.S. passengers barely increased in 2013, rising just 0.4% from 10.67 million to 10.71 million.

The average age of cruise passengers hovers around 50, and adults ages 25-29 make up just 7% of the cruising population.

With an eye to the future, cruise lines are making a big effort to get more millennial travelers on board the big ships, offering everything from artisanal beers to zip lines (don’t use these things together). They are also catering to their fixation on technology by expanding high-speed WiFi on the ships -- satisfying their connectivity addiction and, not at all coincidentally, enabling them to share awesome pictures of their cruise experiences via social media.

This week, Carnival Corp. announced that it is updating Internet service onboard its ships, accelerating WiFi speeds by as much as tenfold with a new hybrid wireless network combining satellites and land-based transmitters. As the ship moves the service will switch between these connections to offer the fastest possible service.

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The company expects to have rolled out the new WiFi@Sea network to all 101 ships in its fleet by 2016, across nine brands including AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises UK, P&O Cruises Australia, Princess Cruises and Seabourn.

Carnival’s global chief information officer Ramon Millan explained: “Our guests are looking for different experiences when they cruise — some are interested in disconnecting and others are interested in staying in touch with their world back home. For those who want to stay connected while on vacation, our new network will help them do so, whether that means checking email or posting pictures to their social media sites… We believe it will also help us attract new cruisers, especially millennials who have made connectivity and social media an everyday part of their lives.”

Previously, Royal Caribbean Cruises announced a similar initiative to boost Internet connectivity with satellites, along with a new mobile app for booking services like spa treatments.

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