By Paul Motter
The definition of "cruising" has changed significantly in the last few years, but since no one has yet given this change a name I nominate "Cruise 2.0" as the official title for the new cruise paradigm.
In the same way "Web 2.0" defines the transition of the internet from a one-way medium into an interactive two-way medium, "Cruise 2.0" is the transition of the pre-defined cruise experience of tradition into a paradigm where each guest can personalize the experience with a variety of options.
Cruise 2.0 is not the end of cruising as we knew it, any more than Web 2.0 was the end of the Internet as we knew it. Rather, Cruise 2.0 is the natural extension of the cruise experience after the introduction of new technology and vacation concepts.
Cruising 1.0 was based on traditional sea voyages as originally defined by the great ocean liners. Activities included morning exercise classes followed by lunch, daily afternoon tea and dress-code dinners in assigned seating restaurants with the same tablemates and service people nightly. Shipboard games were bingo, bridge and shuffleboard. The entertainment included one stage show nightly, followed by drinking and dancing, and the only alternative was going to bed early.
Defining Cruise 2.0 Details:
STATEROOMS: One of the first things to change on cruise ships was the average stateroom. 1.0 ships had utile inside or ocean view staterooms. A porthole to the outside was considered a luxury.
Cruise 2.0 sees the verandah cabin as the standard. Before 2000, balconies were reserved for the most elite suites, but on today's ships balcony cabins comprise the vast majority of staterooms. 2.0 staterooms offer maximum comfort and visual appeal including plush mattresses, the softest sheets and towels, larger bathrooms and showers with luxurious bath products included.
DINING: Cruise 1.0 dining focused on one main dining room, which only offered early or a late seating. With pre-assigned tables you dined with the same tablemates and servers and followed mandatory dress codes every night. Only formal nights offered the most enticing food; lobster, beef Wellington and baked Alaska.
Cruise 2.0 dining offers a main dining room where parties of any size can arrive at any time. They will be given a choice of table sizes and locations. They may or may not have other passengers as dining companions who, like the service people, may be different every night. Dress codes are now suggestions and are more relaxed overall.
2.0 cruise ships also offer a variety of alternative dining options, usually with an added cost, where you can get more exciting entrees and more personalized service any night if the cruise.
ENTERTAINMENT: 1.0 cruise entertainment came in the form of a singular stage show for all guests offered in the main theater. The acts were either production shows specially created for the cruise line or cabaret performers suitable for all ages; jugglers, "clean" comedians, Broadway-style singers or classical musicians.
Cruise 2.0 has more entertainment authenticity than Cruise 1.0. The shows include fully-licensed Broadway productions with ensembles of accomplished entertainers. Proven hits like "Blue Man Group" and "Chicago" from brand name entertainment companies like Disney, DreamWorks, Nickelodeon and Second City have replaced the "musical revue" mentality. A nod to NCL for its entertainment innovation is called for here, but Royal Caribbean, Cunard, Disney and soon Holland America are also contributing.
In addition, there are alternative entertainment options such as jazz clubs, comedy clubs, karaoke, pub-style singers, piano bars, dueling pianos, and more.
ONBOARD ACTIVITIES: 1.0 cruising offered shuffleboard, ping pong, card games, trivia and lots of tanning on deck chairs. 2.0 cruising is defined by far more elaborate activities; Wii interactive games; 3-D movie theaters, FloRider surf simulators, zip-lines, Grand Prix simulators, miniature golf courses, water parks with state of the art water slides and even ice skating and bowling. The new Disney ships will have interactive video characters talking to you while you dine.
TECHNOLOGY: On older cruise ships one had to forego communication with the outside world. The best way to communicate with the office was a fax. Telephones were horribly expensive ($12/minute) and there was no email. There was also no way to keep in touch with people in your own family group onboard.
Cruise 2.0 technology includes Internet access and personal cell phone access stem to stern. It is now possible to bring a laptop and do your job onboard almost as conveniently as one can do it at home. You can carry your Blackberry on ships and get your email instantly. In addition, Carnival, and soon Disney, has onboard social networking so family groups can easily pick up messages and coordinate meeting places. Some ships now offer GPS tracking devices so you know where your kids are at 10:00 p.m.
WEB SITE INTEGRATION: This last cruise 2.0 aspect has no 1.0 counterpart. Cruise lines now offer extensive pre-cruise vacation customization through their web sites. It is now possible to schedule restaurant and show time reservations, make spa appointments and book shore excursions as well. You can check your personal reservation details at any time to make sure everything is as planned.
Cruise 2.0 - Do these definitions make sense to you?: Defining Cruise 2.0