Well done to Carnival Corporation who today announced that it has expanded its innovative hybrid connectivity system to create the cruise industry’s largest Wi-Fi network – and one of the world’s largest satellite mobile networks.
With over 31 advanced satellite systems, the company’s expanded WiFi@Sea connectivity network features the broadest high-bandwidth internet coverage in the cruise industry currently deployed on 30 of its 100 ships — far more than any other cruise line company – with further deployment planned over the next few months. In addition, several of its brands have introduced innovative new plans and pricing packages to help make staying connected whilst on a cruise more convenient and affordable – and are improving the user experience and increasing the number of guests using Wi-Fi while cruising.
This new System is expected to be extended to nearly 40 percent of the company’s industry-leading fleet across several of its global brands by the end of 2015, the expanded WiFi@Sea service has led to increased guest satisfaction, higher usage rates and greater number of devices connected during voyages. Carnival Corporation’s brands currently using the new features include AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line. Building on existing broadband Wi-Fi capabilities already available throughout its fleet of 100 ships, Carnival Corporation is continuing the deployment of its technology solution with plans to expand the new system on the majority of its fleet across its 10 global brands through 2016.
The company’s system represents a first in the cruise industry on this scale – providing the broadest high-speed global coverage across dozens of ships coupled with onboard intelligence to enhance the guest experience – a breakthrough technology innovation for overcoming the challenging circumstances of sailing in the middle of the ocean and still providing fast, reliable and affordable wireless internet access for guests.
Expanding the System
The system is a first-of-its kind solution that integrates a combination of advanced satellite systems, onboard software, networking equipment, land-based antennas and Wi-Fi from port connections. The technology is expected to change how millions of travellers stay in touch during their cruise and generate even greater interest in cruise vacations, especially among tech-savvy millennials and people of all ages who want to stay in touch, research destinations or share their vacation experiences via social media.
With the continued rollout of the enhanced connectivity system across the fleet, guests will be able to access the websites, social networks and apps most important to them at speeds up to 10 times faster than those previously available on the company’s ships.
[su_quote]AS WE CONTINUE TO ENHANCE OUR WIFI@SEA SYSTEM, WE IMPLEMENT TECHNOLOGIES, PACKAGES AND OVERALL APPROACHES THAT WILL CREATE THE BEST EXPERIENCE AND VALUE FOR OUR GUESTS WHEREVER THEIR CRUISE VACATION TAKES THEM,” SAID REZA RASOULIAN, VICE PRESIDENT OF GLOBAL CONNECTIVITY AND SHIPBOARD TECHNOLOGY OPERATIONS AT CARNIVAL CORPORATION. “WE OPTIMIZE ALL OF OUR SERVICE LAYERS CONTINUOUSLY TO ENSURE A GREAT CONNECTIVITY EXPERIENCE. WITH THIS APPROACH, WE ARE GIVING OUR GUESTS FASTER INTERNET SPEEDS WITHOUT CONSTRAINING THE TIME THEY CAN BE ONLINE THROUGH OUR PACKAGES, WHICH HAS LED TO MORE PEOPLE THAN EVER USING THEIR DEVICES TO CONNECT WHILE ON OUR SHIPS AND A STEADY IMPROVEMENT IN GUEST SATISFACTION RATINGS AS THE NEW PLANS AND PRICING ARE ROLLED OUT.[/su_quote]
New WiFi Packages and Pricing
With the new pricing models, Wi-Fi packages are based on the types of services guests will be using throughout their trip versus the previous system of charging for the amount of time they will be online. For example, guests who are only interested in using Wi-Fi to post to their social networks can purchase a basic package for a lower fee.
This change gives guests the freedom they prefer for unlimited use of the specific internet services and applications they are interested in without the worry of time constraints – an important offering for a good number of guests who are looking to stay connected, especially as the industry works to increase interest in and demand for cruising across all demographics, especially among younger guests.
Specific package offerings and pricing structures vary by brand, but in all cases the company is working to create more value and a better overall connectivity experience.
System Enhancements Focus on the Guest Experience
Carnival Cruise Line, the company’s largest brand with 24 ships and its 25th ship, Carnival Vista, coming in spring of 2016, announced in August it has enhanced internet access including new social media packages. The packages are now available on 19 of its 24 ships with plans for fleet-wide implementation by the first quarter of 2016. In June, the company’s AIDA Cruises brand announced new flat-rate social media and internet packages, along with bandwidth upgrades that have been installed on seven ships, and will be fully deployed on each of the brand’s 10 ships by November 2015.
Added Rasoulian: “We know that each of our guests is looking for something different when they cruise, whether that is being completely or partially unplugged from the internet or staying plugged in. For those who want to stay connected with their life back home or research the next destination on their trip, we are offering faster, more reliable and more affordable options to give our guests what they are looking for.”
The improved onboard connectivity experience will also help crew members across Carnival Corporation’s 10 brands keep in touch with their family and friends at home during the extended amounts of time they spend at sea. This is an important component of each crew member’s quality of life and has a positive impact on helping them maintain their passion for consistently providing exceptional service for guests during the voyage.