Cruise passengers have own web sites
There can be few industries in which customer loyalty is more important than the cruise industry. The successful operators boast that many of the passengers are signed up for their next cruise before they disembark at the end of their current one. On cruises, customer expectations are high: people expect to be pampered and their every whim catered for. This has led to a generally high level of service throughout the industry, which makes it more difficult to find that extra differentiator that will really impress.
Own web site At least one operator, California-based Crystal Cruises, has found a way of giving that bit extra, by introducing a personal web site service. Cruise passengers can learn to design and publish a personal web site and, using custom designed software, can have their websites up and running in as little as 45 minutes, using any combination of text, pictures, hyperlinks and colours. The software includes a library of 1,500 photographs, and guests can include pictures captured live from onboard web cams.
Friends and family can access the site for a real-time record of the voyage. Passengers pay a fee starting from US$40 for ten pages and 25 photographs for their site to be published for 30-180 days. The charges are flexible: being logged on to the internet costs US$1.25 per minute, with a ten-minute minimum. Otherwise, e-mails via the ship's system cost US$3 each.
Computer training In 1997 Crystal launched the Computer University@Sea, which offered regular computer tuition and e-mail. It's popularity led to the company soon adding dedicated computer labs to the ships. Depending on the length of the cruise, there are three to nine instructors on every cruise, teaching anything from e-mail techniques to Microsoft Windows and the intricacies of spreadsheets and manipulating digital images.
Initially, e-mail was transmitted once daily. In 1999 this was increased to four times a day. Since 2000, a real-time internet connection is maintained and passengers can either use their own internet service provider or use the ship's e-mail service. Recently, all staterooms have been wired for internet access.