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Cruise ship bandwidth & remote working onboard

by Asa Sargeant | December 3, 2022 | Cruise & Maritime | 0 Comments

This week we teamed up with the good people at Seatrade Cruise to produce an article on cruise ship bandwidth. You can read that piece in full here: Cruise ship bandwidth more important than ever. Alternatively, feel free to read on for a summarised version.

Digital Transformation And Great Expectations

As we continue to embrace the digital world, we increasingly expect seamless experiences. Lengthy delays in web page loading times were once a pain, but now they can be a death knell for companies. No internet connection available? You may as well inform someone that they have lost a loved one. Ok, perhaps that is not quite right (!) but you get the point. Remote working has also now developed into a viable thing for so many of us. A lot of people are even working remotely on holidays, from their hotel room or cruise ship cabin.

The Internet, An Indispensable Force

Here are a few ‘fun’ facts for you:

- Worldwide in 2021, we spent 155 minutes per day on the mobile internet
- We added another 37 minutes on the internet each day using desktop devices
- In the US alone, there are around 55 million meetings held each week

The average amount of time spent online has been increasing every year for the past decade. Last year we spent 192 minutes on the internet – that is over 3 hours! To put it into perspective, let’s map out an average weekday for many of us in the UK:

- Time spent sleeping = 8 hours
- Working = 8 hours
- Cleaning, bathing, shopping = 2.5 hours
- Eating = 1.5 hours

The above activities equate to 20 hours, meaning that there are 4 hours remaining… for entertainment. Spending as much time on the internet as we do cleaning, bathing, shopping and eating means that we expect good connectivity. No matter where we are, internet outages are simply unacceptable. Working in the cruise industry for the best part of two decades has shown us that the situation at sea is no longer any different. In the early 2010’s, a lack of bandwidth hardly raised an eyebrow because people understood that they were miles from anywhere. Now, despite the fact that cruisers literally spend a lot of time in the middle of nowhere, the demand for good bandwidth is HUGE. This demand is exacerbated by the fact that over 10,000 smart devices can now connect to a ship’s network.

“Cruise companies are responding by prioritising increases in bandwidth, adding satellites and changing infrastructure.” – Tracy Fletcher, Service Delivery Lead for theICEway

Remote Working, Working From Home & Working From Holiday

Prior to the pandemic, approximately 5% of US office workers were based at home. Now, the number is up at around 20%-30%. The rest of the world is in a similar position as people see that they no longer have to work solely in the traditional workplace. Now they can work from practically any location as long as there is an internet connection.

This simple fact is changing the way many people view holidays. Traditionally a complete break from work, holidays can now see people working in their hotel rooms or cruise ship cabins. According to LinkedIn research, 39% of UK adults completed some work during their holiday in 2022.

Cruise lines have always prioritised bandwidth to deliver as seamless a guest experience as possible. This focus has taken on even greater importance today.

Working From Holiday On A Cruise

You can work whilst on a cruise, but you should know what level of connectivity you can expect from the start. Crucial factors in this are as follows:

- The cruise line you will be travelling with
- Your chosen cruise ship(s)
- The route you will be taking, including the port(s) you will be visiting

“In port, a guest would… use their own 4G/5G connection having chosen a location where they can pick up a good signal. Alternatively, some ships have an onboard repeater system that can provide improved coverage on board in these circumstances.” – Gus Davidson, Principal Consultant for theICEway

Other factors to consider would include:

- The services and applications guests are likely to use
- What the expected traffic levels might be

A simple WhatsApp text uses far less cruise ship bandwidth than a call or an attempt to share images. If you are a regular Zoom or Teams user, or often need to retrieve files in Microsoft Office, then you may struggle to ‘WFH’ on a cruise. For now, then, maybe it is better to go on a cruise for the actual cruise experience and a break from work!

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