Family values? Soon you’ll be able track your child onboard — for a price

by Janice Hough on November 30, 2009

atrium

Much has already and will continue to be written about Royal Caribbean’s new mega-ship, the “Oasis of the Seas.” With a capacity of over 6,000 passengers (plus crew), 16 passenger decks, and more bells and whistles than most amusement parks, it’s not a ship that inspires lukewarm feelings.

And their latest enhancement/fee will no doubt be as polarizing as the ship itself: a $17.50 charge for an onboard smart phone that will help you not lose your children.

As most parents who have cruises with children know, most ships require young children to wear wristbands. Now, on the Oasis of the season, the wrist bands will have a passive electronic device embedded. Parents who rent the “Royal Connect” phones will be able to track their children anywhere on the ship.

The phones will also work for adults to text and talk to each other onboard, without the usual roaming charges on cellphones. And they will allow passengers to check onboard activities and make spa and restaurant reservations — that is, onboard spa and restaurants only; the phones will be specially modified iPhones, but they also won’t work for calling home or anywhere off the ship, even in port.

On land, cellphones have already eliminated much of the lost children problem for families. But not all children are old enough to carry the phones, and some parents actually might prefer not to start the habit sooner than they have to. So presumably a temporary tracking wristband and device could be useful at theme parks, shopping malls, and other attractions. Maybe even at airports, especially for parents who have seen the “Home Alone” movies.

And since travel companies are continually looking for new revenue generators, presumably what amounts to basically electronic lost child insurance could be a big money maker. If this experiment works. I do have to wonder what happens the first time some child figures out how to cut the wristband and throw it overboard.

(Photo: Airgap/flickr.com/creative commons)

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  • Bill

    So the charge is $17.50 a what? Day? week? Trip? Good idea, but if it is too expensive, it isn’t going to work.

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  • Janice Hough

    $17.50 a trip, so hey, the cost of a couple cocktails. For now. Not sure if you need one phone per kid or per family. Can’t imagine Disney won’t be on this soon too. Although what happens when the kids decide to try to ditch the bracelet was only partly tongue in cheek, was on one of Royal Caribbean’s former mega-ships (only about 4000 people) on board some years back and one goal of some kids seemed to be jettisoning deck chairs. They got at least one or two.

  • Laura Townsend Elion

    If you leave your children in their care for the special programs, Disney cruises keep track of your children for you for free..(Even issue you a pager to get in touch with you, if its necessary)….

  • Tim

    So being an irresponsible parent has a price tag: $17.50. That is pretty cheap to avoid the responsibility you agreed to when you became a parent.

    If you are not willing or able to track and control your kids, you should limit taking them out in public–and avoid cruises.

    And yes, I have a kid–and when we go out, we stick together or at least close by each other.

  • Wrona

    The kids programs are still no charge on RCCL, it’s just the added tracking device if your kids want to leave the programs – which can be an issue for tweens and teens.

    RCCL has offered DECT phones for a while on at least some of their ships which allow you to make calls between those in your family on the ship, I believe the charge was something like $25 for a cruise, and they didn’t offer the tracking feature.

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