Guests who download the free application will be able to conveniently access Norwegian Epic’s systems from anywhere on board using their smart phone to make shore excursion and dining reservations, gather information about onboard services and review their folio activity all from the palm of their hand. In addition, Norwegian iConcierge will be the industry’s first mobile application that allows guests to easily find and communicate with fellow cruisers. Guests who have the application installed on their SIP capable smart phones will be able to make and send unlimited calls and messages to each other while on board. What will all that tech savvy service cost? At an introductory rate of $7.95 for the entire sailing, it certainly sounds reasonable.
Norwegian iConcierge is a free download and will soon be available through Apple, Android, and Windows7 smart phone application stores. Currently, the application is exclusively for guests sailing on board Norwegian Epic beginning March 24, 2012, but deployment to the remaining fleet is expected in the near future.
Enhancements to the application for near-term deployment also include ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship calling capabilities using advanced voice over IP technology. Currently, “off-ship” calls using the existing cellular networks can be costly, but Norwegian iConcierge users will soon have the opportunity to even make these calls at much more affordable rates.
This latest innovation is in line with NCL’s history of technological innovations. In 1999, Norwegian was the first cruise line to offer Internet access at sea aboard Norwegian Sky; in 2002, Norwegian was the first in the industry to provide remote wireless Internet access to guests fleet-wide; and in 2006 Norwegian became the first cruise line to fully implement cell phone service fleet wide.
While I’m a BlackBerry fan myself, I do appreciate Apple’s devices and that’s my iPod Touch pictured here. Since I’ve found that it does nearly everything an iPhone does, except make telephone calls, it may work for onboard messaging as well.
Parents of teens who can’t stand to be out of touch with their friends—and anyone who can’t be totally inaccessible even when on vacation—will certainly rejoice at the lower cost to use the new app to stay connected while sailing on Norwegian ships. However, I wonder if the shipboard systems will be overloaded by them just as land based mobile service providers have found to be the case. That low introductory rate may have to increase to quell demand.
Time will tell.
Photo © Linda Coffman, CruiseDiva.com