Sunday, April 22, 2012

touching through the dark

When I started cruising in the 70s, communications with folks back home was extremely limited.

Post cards were mailed from exotic ports -- and usually arrived a month or two after I returned home.  And that was about it.

There was, of course, the ship telephone.  But no one used it without fear of taking out a second mortgage on the house.  It was reserved for the details of funerals for very close relatives.

About a decade ago, cruise lines took advantage of satellite technology by installing internet cafés on board.  Grandmothers could keep in touch with grandkids who never bothered responding.

That was soon followed by wireless connections on board.  Passengers could search out the various hot spots (inevitably located in areas where various goods and services were sold) and check on the status of that financial portfolio.

Personally, I find it a great luxury.  Even before I started writing this blog, I liked the idea of being able to stay in touch with everyone -- as if I were on land.

Well, not exactly like being on land.  Internet speed (and its concurrent cost) are quite different than connections at home.

In Oregon, I paid about $80 a month for blazing fast internet.  In Mexico, I pay about $50 a month for a rather plodding internet speed.

At sea, I pay $.65 a minute for a connection that would lose to a liveried footman delivering notes on embossed stationery.  Or, at least, it seems that way.

I have been preparing my photographs and drafting my blogs offline to conserve online time.  Even with those precautions, it usually takes me close to a half hour to post a short blog with two photographs. 

So, I purchased one of the discount packages.  For $150 I get 500 minutes of internet time.  That is about $.30 a minute.

On my last trans-Atlantic cruise, I had minutes left over.from a similar package.  Not so this trip.  In four days I have burned through half of those minutes.

Before the trip is over, I may end up spending more for computer time than the cost of my Dubai to Los Angeles air ticket.

And that may not be a bad comparison.  The benefit I get from keeping in contact with friends and relatives is money well spent.  Certainly far more enjoyable than spending 16 hours in a cramped airline seat.


tancho said...

Zikes, a half hour to upload two photos and the upload speed must be worse than dial up..
Luxury yes, necessity for a week or so, not in my book. I would love to have Internet Free Zone, just to catch up on my reading material saved on my Kindle.
500 minutes blown through already?  You have a lot more patience than anyone I know. Enjoy the rest of the trip. Save up the upload, nothing is that important, other than that gossip you teased us with....

Steve Cotton said...

 Frustrating, yes.  But I still enjoy putting it altogether.

MarcOlson said...

...and I'm so glad you're making the investment. I cruise vicariously with you. Maybe I'll even decide to try it one of these days.

Steve Cotton said...

You really should. Writing material presents itself eery day.

Andean said... of these days--maybe also. Is there a grocery store onboard to buy food to cook in the cabin. Tuna, half n half, lamb...--can turn into essential items over a week.

Steve Cotton said...

 No cooking in cabins.  Dining is a to-be-served function only.

Andean said...

When I eat out a lot I look forward to a home cooked meal, even mine--served, a different story.

Kim G said...

Hola Steve,

Thanks for shelling out the coin to keep us updated and entertained. But I feel vaguely guilty knowing how much you are spending. Maybe you should just post multiple posts when you reach land.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where our own internet is cheap, but finicky.

Steve Cotton said...

With the exception of a handful of restaurants, I always prefer my cooking. 

Steve Cotton said...

 But then I would not have the pleasure of posting on a regular schedule. 

Irene said...

Your post reminded me of the time one of my cousins got the opportunity to go on a cruise in the Caribbean.  It was kind of a big deal for him and he sent me a postcard from the ship.  I received the postcard a year later!  Glad you have the internet connection and enjoy using it.

Steve Cotton said...

 And today I have the luxury of a land connection.  In a restaurant where Diet Coke does not cost $2.59 a can.

Micneil said...

I too am enjoying your cruise reports.  Thanks very much for the coin and effort in taking us along vicariously.