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The Evolution of Cruise Ships, from 1975 to 2013: Technology

February 1, 2013 at 11:17 AM | by | ()

Imagine a cruise. Now picture yourself on that cruise. Are you playing shuffleboard and gobbling rum cakes? God, let's hope not. Over the next several days, we're going to dig back into the era responsible for creating these cruise stereotypes—the fun-in-the-sun 1970s, when ocean liners turned into cruise ships and voyages into vacations. In sharp contrast, we'll look at cruising 2013-style onboard the newest ship on the seas, the Celebrity Reflection.

The Cruising 1975 vs. 2013 Series:

1. Activities
2. Technology
3. Dining and drinking
4. Cabins and suites
5. The ships themselves

There were no cell phones in 1975, or personal computers. Of course this is huge "duh" fact, but let that sink in for a moment when you think of the hundreds of passengers onboard a cruise ship and their near complete break with communication when they stepped onboard. Sure, there were in-room radios and ship-to-shore calling, if you wanted to pay the per-minute price, but nothing like the connectivity they now offer.

For one, there's WiFi. What, you think we'd go on a ship without being able to nourish our social media addiction from new coordinates? Yeah, right. WiFi is available via a satellite signal, so you can log in from anywhere on the ship via your smartphone, tablet or laptop. It's not free, can be slower than you're used to on land, and pricing varies, but there are packages available so there's no pain of per-minute charges.

We've been on three cruises now with WiFi, on different cruise lines, and not yet had an issue. The best moment of all, however, definitely came while seated at the Celebrity Reflection's open-air Sunset Bar, sipping a mimosa, and filing a story just as if we weren't miles and miles off the coast of Florida.

Didn't bring a gadget? Chillax. There's an entire iLounge onboard the Reflection, which has, in and amongst all the Mac desktops, Macbooks and iPads, a case of Apple products available for purchase. Not only has a ship's once sad and tiny "internet lounge" become a bonafide ship feature, but this one is even an authorized Apple dealer

Last but certainly not least are the gadgets found inside staterooms. In the 1970s, rooms had a telephone...not even a TV yet. Fast forward to 2013 and there's at least one flatscreen TV in staterooms, a phone (mostly used for free room-to-room and room service calling), and plenty of universal outlets near the desk. If you're sleeping in one of Reflection's suites, then you can also bet on finding giant internet-enabled TVs and even iPads.

Live-tweeting a 109-day World Cruise? When onboard WiFi prices ultimately come down, we're betting it won't be unheard of any longer.

We hopped onboard the Reflection's quickie preview cruise as a guest of Celebrity, but all photos and opinions are completely our own.

[Photos and Scans: Cynthia Drescher]

Archived Comments:

Thanks, great article!

I'll be on a world cruise round trip from Sydney. This really helps with my trip prep. Keep these great articles coming.