Tom Stieghorst
Tom Stieghorst

Voom is the real deal.

I've been using it, Royal Caribbean International's internet service, on a Harmony of the Seas cruise along with 800 or so agents attending the CruiseOne/Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc. annual conference.

It is the easiest and most pleasant experience I've ever had with an internet connection from a cruise ship. If Royal Caribbean's new "Frictionless Arrival" being readied for the Symphony of the Seas is as frictionless as Voom, guests may not even notice they've boarded the ship when they reach their cabin door.

On two prior occasions, I had experienced Voom on preview cruises of new ships. There were a few hiccups. I could see the potential for something great, but it was still too new to function flawlessly.

On this cruise, all I had to do to get started with my VOOM Surf + Stream Voyage Package was to type in an access code and a few other bits of information. And I was off to cyber space.

Brad Tolkin, co-CEO of World Travel Holdings, parent company of CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., says that it's the first cruise internet experience that works just as if a guest were surfing or streaming at home.

There is no fussing with log-in and log-out pages, no delays in requesting pages, no debating about whether you should size down a photo so it won't take forever to transmit.

"It's fast," Tolkin said. "You have internet like what you expect."

The service is fast enough that I am writing and assembling this column from a ship for the first time. With previous sea-going internet services, it would just be too balky and tedious to do all the searching, cutting and pasting of stories and links that you are reading.

Royal Caribbean's price for a single device on the package I am using is $17.99 a day. There is a Surf-only package for $12.99 a day and I'm told there are discounts for buying the package pre-cruise rather than waiting to get on the ship.

It's hard to gain a permanent advantage in the competitive cruise industry. Carnival Corp. recently announced a deal with the same satellite provider that Royal Caribbean now exclusively uses to achieve its sonic boom speeds.

So competition may eventually bring really fast, land-like internet service to ships on other brands. But for now, if you really care about your internet connection and plan to use it all the time, a Royal Caribbean cruise is the one for you.

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