Princess Cruises is turning its ships into ‘offices at sea’ with WiFi as fast as land

Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises.

  • Many companies are now considering the possibility of a permanent remote or hybrid work model.
  • Princess Cruises is looking to target this segment by turning its ships into “offices at sea.”
  • All of Princess’ cruise ships will upgraded with “land-like connectivity” when sailing resumes.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If you’ve ever dreamed of working or studying at sea, Princess Cruises might have the perfect solution for you.

The coronavirus pandemic has obviously the traditional office structure, and more companies are considering the possibility of permanent hybrid or fully remote work models. In response to the “work from anywhere” shift, travel-adjacent businesses – especially road travel companies – have altered their products to include amenities like offices and connectivity packages in a bid to attract this growing segment.

Now, Princess Cruises is looking to do the same by introducing stronger internet connection on its cruise ships and some clever marketing

Read more: Carnival and Royal Caribbean salaries revealed: From $32,000 to $383,000, here’s how much the cruise industry’s power players pay some of their employees

Having fast and reliable Wi-Fi has become a necessity during the COVID-19 remote work period. To meet this essential function, the cruise line’s “connectivity partner” SES will be launching a new satellite constellation later this year. As a result, when cruising returns, Princess will be able to offer “land-like” internet on all of its ships, turning a boat into an “office at sea,” according to a press release.

This strong Wi-Fi connection will be accessible throughout the ships, which means guests won’t have to stay in their staterooms just to get speedy internet for work or school.

But if you’re eager to jump on board, you’ll have to wait a bit longer. Presently, the cruise line has no plans to resume sailing until, at earliest, the end of June.

Are you a cruise industry employee or have a cruise industry story to share? Contact this reporter at bchang@insider.com.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says his state is suing the CDC to bring back cruises

ron desantis florida vaccine 60 minutes
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says the state will sue the CDC to bring back cruise ships “immediately.”
  • The CDC has put a hold on the cruise industry since the COVID-19 pandemic first began.
  • The cruise industry has fought back, instead arguing for a cruising return from US ports by July.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that the state will be suing the federal government and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bring back the cruise industry “immediately.”

“On behalf of the tens of thousands of Floridians whose livelihood depends on the viability of an open cruise industry, today Florida is fighting back,” DeSantis said in a news conference in Miami.

The CDC has maintained its halt on cruising since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when cruise ships around the world initially became superspreaders. However, several major cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have since found workarounds to this by offering “fully vaccinated” sailings from ports outside of the US, including Bermuda and the Caribbeans, a move DeSantis says takes business away from Florida.

“We don’t believe the federal government has the right to mothball a major industry for over a year,” DeSantis continued. “I think we have a good chance for success.”

On April 2, the CDC announced fully vaccinated people could travel safely in the US without quarantining or testing. Shortly after, the agency also issued an update to its conditional sailing order, which was first initially unveiled in October 2020 to replace a no-sail order imposed on the US cruise industry.

But despite the industry’s demands to resume sailing by July, the CDC didn’t announce a sooner sailing return in its updated order. Instead, it implemented what the Cruise Lines International Association has called “unduly burdensome and largely unworkable” requirements.

“I challenge you to tell me of another venue anywhere that has this kind of ironclad health and safety protocols in place,” Frank Del Rio, Norwegian Cruise Line parent CEO, told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money” on Monday. “Cruise ships will de facto become the safest place on earth.”

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Royal Caribbean just welcomed its newest ship, the Odyssey of the Seas – see its 10 coolest features

Royal Caribbean cruise ship Odyssey of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas.

  • Royal Caribbean just welcomed its latest cruise ship, the Odyssey of the Seas.
  • The ship will have many family-friendly amenities, including a skydiving simulator and bumper cars.
  • These are the ship’s coolest features, which guests will be able to experience this year.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Royal Caribbean just welcomed the Odyssey of the Seas, a new cruise ship that will begin “fully vaccinated” cruises from Israel this summer.

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The Odyssey of the Seas.

This announcement comes after a year of bad news for cruise lines, including COVID-19 outbreaks at the beginning of the pandemic, an industry-wide pause throughout 2020 …

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The Odyssey of the Seas.

… tumultuous responses to “fully vaccinated” sailings, and the CDC’s rejection of an earlier cruising return.

1617140303_Launch High SkyPad Architectural rt
The Odyssey of the Seas’ Sky Pad bungee trampoline.

The ship’s inaugural sailing was once set for May to October from Italy, but both the dates and location were changed to June to October from Israel.

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The Odyssey of the Seas.

And unlike the previously canceled cruises aboard this new ship, these new Israel sailings will only be available to Israeli residents who’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19.

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The Odyssey of the Seas.

Guests under 18-years-old who don’t have the vaccine will instead have to test negative for the virus.

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The Odyssey of the Seas.

This cruise series will then bring its Israeli guests on three to seven-night trips around the Mediterranean.

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The Odyssey of the Seas.

Wondering what you’ll do for seven nights aboard a ship?

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The Odyssey of the Seas.

The 1,138-foot long, 135-foot wide cruise will offer several amenities that will keep its guests and their children busy.

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The Odyssey of the Seas’ SeaPlex.

This includes a “Caribbean-inspired” pool deck with two pools and four whirlpools.

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The Odyssey of the Seas’ pool deck.

But if you or your children are looking for more active fun, head to the Splashaway Bay water park or the “SeaPlex” activity center.

1571926176_RCCL Odyssey CGI17 PoolDeckAerial 05 RET CROP 1
The Odyssey of the Seas’ pool deck.

The latter will be the “largest indoor active space at sea,” according to Royal Caribbean, and will include unique activities like bumper cars, virtual reality games, and laser tag.

1571926341_RCCL Odyssey CGI07 Playmakers 06 RET 1
The Odyssey of the Seas’ SeaPlex.

If you need a break from the kids, head to the Solarium. Here, guests over 16-years-old can hang out at the pools, relaxation areas, and a bar. The image below shows the Solarium on a different Royal Caribbean ship.

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The Solarium on the Spectrum of the Seas.

While the parents are relaxing, their children can partake in the Adventure Ocean program full of different games and activities.

Odyssey of the Seas' Adventure Ocean.
Odyssey of the Seas’ Adventure Ocean.

Meanwhile, the teenagers can instead head to the Social180 to game, lounge, and mingle.

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Odyssey of the Seas’ Social180.

But if the whole family is looking for some more adventurous activities, head up to the top deck for the ship’s observation area …

1617140310_Launch Medium NorthStar Architectural rt
The Odyssey of the Seas’ North Star observation area.

… virtual reality-powered SkyPad bungee trampoline, and both a skydiving and surfing simulator.

1571926176_RCCL Odyssey CGI17 PoolDeckAerial 05 RET CROP 1
The Odyssey of the Seas’ pool deck.

When it’s mealtime, guests can dine at Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar or Teppanyaki, both Royal Caribbean firsts for North America.

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The Odyssey of the Seas’ Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar.

More interested in indoor entertainment? Go down to the Two70, which will showcase different performers and rotating TV screens to turn a lounge into an immersive theater.

Odyssey of the Seas' Two70.
Odyssey of the Seas’ Two70.

If you aren’t based in Israel but trips aboard the Odyssey of the Seas sound enticing, wait until November when the ship will head to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Royal Caribbean cruise ship Odyssey of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas.

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Florida threatened to sue the federal government over the idling of the cruise industry

Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday put forth new legislation aimed at protesters.

  • Florida’s governor said the state could sue the federal government if the CDC doesn’t soon allow the US cruise industry to restart.
  • The US cruise industry has remained idled even as coronavirus vaccinations and testing pick up steam.
  • US cruises are not expected to sail until May at the earliest.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and state Attorney General Ashley Moody said they would consider filing a lawsuit against the federal government over its ongoing restriction on the cruise industry.

During a roundtable discussion with cruise industry executives on Friday, Moody said the state was weighing its legal options against the Biden Administration and the US Centers for Disease Control for keeping the cruise industry idled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In October, the CDC announced a new framework for sailing that requires cruises to have onboard testing and carry out mock voyages and many other requirements before they are allowed to restart in US ports. The industry was shut down a year ago after several coronavirus outbreaks erupted on cruise ships.

“You can’t have an agency shutting down an entire industry based on outdated arbitrary capricious decisions and so we will take all legal action as necessary,” Moody said.

The roundtable discussion included CEOs from Norwegian, Carnival, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Disney Cruise Line, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

DeSantis, a Republican who reopened all businesses and eliminated fines for people refusing to wear masks as COVID-19 ripped through the state last year, said the cruise industry had been idled for too long.

“If you’re not going to be willing to greenlight this, then you need to explain why everywhere else in the world can do it,” DeSantis said during the discussion. “Is it okay for the government to just idle an industry for a year, with no end in sight? I mean, this was never legislated by anybody.”

The US cruise industry has remained idled even as vaccinations and testing pick up steam. Cruise lines in other countries have resumed trips and industry advocates say cruising doesn’t pose a greater risk of transmitting the coronavirus than flying.

A statement by the Florida governor’s office on Friday said the US government failed to provide relief funding to seaports “while airports and transit agencies have received assistance through relief packages.”

US cruises are not expected to sail until May at the earliest. Royal Caribbean Cruises President and CEO Michael Bayley called the situation”devastating,” according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Florida is home to some of the world’s busiest ports including Miami, Port Canaveral near Kennedy Space Center, and Port Everglades near Fort Lauderdale.

Through August 2020, Florida lost around $2.3 billion in wages and 49,500 jobs because of the cruise industry shut down due to the pandemic, according to a September 2020 report by the Federal Maritime Commission.

“We’re the most crippled by what they’re doing with this national cruise lockdown, and so we get liberated from that, you’re going to be able to see maybe tens of thousands, maybe even 100,000 more people going back to work,” DeSantis said.

The CDC did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

According to the Associated Press, some experts say it’s still too early for cruise ships to operate again because of the close quarters on the vessels and other potential issues.

The cargo and cruise operations at Florida’s Jacksonville seaport generate around 139,300 jobs in Florida and more than $31.1 billion in annual economic impact, said JAXPORT CEO Eric Green in a statement this month.

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Royal Caribbean has sold its Azamara brand including 4 ships for $201 million as the company continues to push back 2021 sail dates

Azamara Question in 2017.
An Azamara ship.

Royal Caribbean has sold its Azamara cruise line for $201 million while cruises in the US remain docked during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company announced Friday.

Sycamore Partners, the private equity firm purchasing Azamara in cash, now owns the cruising brand and its fleet of four ships, including one that was just acquired. Carol Cabezas, Azamara’s COO, will serve as president of the cruise line, according to a press release from January when the agreement was first announced.

“Azamara remains a strong brand with its own tremendous potential for growth,” Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group, said in a statement in January.

Read more: COVID-19 has created a once-in-a-lifetime crisis for Carnival and Royal Caribbean, but after surviving hijackings and shipwrecks, the industry looks unsinkable

The ownership change also results in a $170 million non-cash impairment charge. According to Royal Caribbean, this Azamara sale won’t “materially impact” the cruise company’s financial outcomes.

Unsurprisingly, recent months haven’t exactly been smooth sailing for Royal Caribbean. In December, Royal Caribbean announced it had sold its Empress and Majesty of the Seas cruise ships. Just several months prior, the cruise company reported it had lost $1.3 billion in its third quarter, the Miami Herald reported.

This Azamara announcement and Royal Caribbean’s difficulties are only some of the shakeups in the long list of cruise industry disruptions that have happened in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. From stranded crew members to refund issues to a “wasted year,” things have been looking a bit bleak for cruise companies around the world.

However, according to Royal Caribbean, this latest deal will allow the mega cruise company to “focus on expanding” its Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Silversea Cruises brands.

Read more: Carnival and Royal Caribbean salaries revealed: From $32,000 to $383,000, here’s how much the cruise industry’s power players pay some of their employees

The sail date for these cruise lines, and other cruises around the US, still remain to be seen as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on.

Are you a cruise industry employee or have a cruise industry story to share? Contact this reporter at bchang@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Cruise ships are being scrapped as the industry struggles to ride out the pandemic

  • 2020 was supposed to be a banner year for the cruise industry before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
  • With no-sail orders in place, some companies saved money by sending entire cruise ships to the scrapyard.
  • The industry is relying on customer loyalty to bounce back from a disastrous year that has cost lives, jobs and hit revenues hard.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
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