Dear Cruise Lines,
There used to be a time when travelers could truly take a vacation; to disconnect, unwind, rejuvenate, reconnect with loved ones, relax, and then return to the “real world” refreshed. Employers, especially the self-employed, had no expectations of anyone being able to work while on vacation. Then WiFi and Internet access became a thing; however, it was an expensive thing at first. So frugal workaholics were able to resist the temptation to work while on vacation. Then Internet cafes started popping up in ports; but at least sea days were still safe. On cruise ships, it was still bliss on those sea days. Even when cruise ships started offering Internet access, with crazy rates (upwards of 75 cents a minute on some ships) their frugal tendencies were able to keep the workaholic propensities at bay.
Now it is 2015 and cruise lines are rolling out unlimited Internet packages, and damn if the prices aren’t too bad. You can purchase days individually, or buy a length of cruise package. Workaholics around the world are breathing a sigh of relief. They can keep on working, and not feel the twitches of withdrawal symptoms by not working for a few days. However, their family members are not rejoicing. Easy access to the Internet is not conducive to vacationing. Study after study tells us that truly disconnecting from work makes us more productive once we return to work. The catch is that we need to disconnect from work. Internet access at sea doesn’t help.
As travel consultants, many of us extol to our clients about the virtues of stepping back from their every-day lives, enjoying the destination they are visiting (or the ship), spending quality time with the kids, relaxing, and coming home refreshed and ready to return to work. It is becoming harder to help them realize those goals when work is just an Internet package away. And if you’re going to work, well the kids want access to their Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram, Pinterest accounts, etc. It’s all downhill from there. It doesn’t help families to reconnect when their faces are buried in their SmartPhones, tablets, or laptops. No one is rejuvenating if they are playing Angry Birds instead of relaxing by the pool. And if you haven’t relaxed and recharged, are you really ready to face work when you return home? I speak from experience when answering that question with a resounding “NO.”
Internet access on cruise ships (or at hotels) is not going away. More than likely, it’ll get worse (as in, more accessible). As long as cruise lines make money off their Internet packages, and maybe attract some workaholics that resisted cruising in the past, they will happily continue to offer this amenity to their passengers.
As consultants, we will have to work on our client pitch about disconnecting from work in order to truly embrace vacation. Until then, this workaholic is going on a 12-night cruise in November, and trying to figure out how often she can sneak onto the Internet without getting caught.
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel (www.shipsntripstravel.com) located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations (www.kickbuttvacations.com), she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209.