Hotels, Cruise Ships Have Good Reasons For Choosing iMacs


The new
The new "iStudy" Internet lounge on the Queen Mary luxury cruise ship

In our mobile and always connected world, packing for a business trip or a vacation includes one inevitable question: what devices should I bring? While we may strive to carry our entire office or home theater with us, there’s always a chance of getting to our destination and discovering we don’t have everything we need (because of trying to travel light or simply forgetting something).

Most major hotels, resorts, and cruise lines (and some airports) offer fully equipped mini-offices known as business centers that can usually provide everything from a copier or fax machine to power cords to printers and even fully equipped desktop computers. One thing that’s becoming more common is to see business centers populated with iMacs rather than Windows PCs – and for good reasons.

Business centers have been on the decline as mobile technology has exploded into the business and consumer markets, but that doesn’t mean they’ve become completely obsolete. Most of don’t travel with a printer and flying with just an iPad or iPhone may lead to the occasional need of more robust computing. Also trips to remote destinations may make simply picking up a new power cord or local 3G signal impossible.

That’s also true of cruise ships. As TUAW notes, the luxury cruise liner the MS Queen Victoria now offers an “iStudy” filled with iMacs. The ship joins two of its Cunard sister ships in offering an iStudy that can be used as an Internet lounge as well as for educational programming. On the cruise line’s Facebook page, however, there are several comments that Cunard should offer desktop PCs as well as iMacs.

This argument is a bit absurd. More and more hotels and resorts are joining Cunard is delivering business centers and similar facilities with iMacs. The reason being that they can be deployed with OS X and Windows 7 – allowing a simple sign or brochure to direct people how to select the operating system of their choice.

As business centers continue to get squeezed more, consolidating to an all Apple setup allows that choice for guests without doubling the number of computers being purchased and supported. Since the computing needs in these facilities are fairly basic, there isn’t even the need for virtualization options like Parallels or VMWare Fusion – Apple’s Boot Camp suffices and saves a bit of money. More importantly, Boot Camp is easier for short term users to grasp: simply hold down the option key at startup and then click the icon for Windows.



  • Richard Sipe

    I really couldn’t disagree more; and sadly, that is coming from a iOS programmer and card carrying member of the Mac fan club. Why then? I also am an executive at a company that, for the last 10 years or so, has specialized in guest use computing (read business centers and the like).

    We have numerous times tried to place dual OS Mac computers in our business centers and shared computing spaces, mostly at the behest of our customers. When there are just dual OS iMacs as a choice we noticed that session engagements were way down but the computers were still being used (so we knew they were at least functional). We then engaged in a bit of market research and placed an old, slow, kind of rough looking single PC next to a few of our guest use brand new iMac systems at a few properties. Results? The 3yr+ old PC had 70-90% more usage than the shiny dual OS iMac combined! Huh?

    It makes no sense sitting on the sidelines and arm-chair-quarterbacking the market space but complete sense when you actually know the market. Seeing the sexy vissage of a bunch of aluminum Macs in a perfectly designed business center seems seems like a match made in heven but in practice, even with a HUGE windows logo’d dual boot system or even just Windows running in single boot, Macs are a barrier to usage for the 70+ percent of the population who don’t use a Mac and for many have never (which FYI is much much higher in the business traveler market). OK, so what you say learn something new, become a convert! Yeah … turns out the time people are not willing to take an impromptu-self-directed computer class is on vacation, on a cruise ship, in a hotel there for business, etc etc or pretty much anytime they would be using one of these devices. They have a specific task in mind (web, email, facebook, and MS Word most of the time by our stats) that they want to complete with out having to learn a new device and just the Apple Logo and little bit of a keyboard difference is a huge red flag to many people. I know … I know, its running Windows, everything is the same, you can use it like a PC but it just doesn’t pan out.

    A little verbose of a description but the comments about having PCs installed in those locations are valid. I imagine there were many many more potential users on the Queen Mary that just didn’t use the Macs and really didn’t care enough to take time when they got home to find the site and complain.

    To be fair there are multiple successful companies that do specialize in guest use Mac systems but their business models focus on their customers (ex. Cunard) and not the users (the thousands of travelers on the ships). IE they don’t care who or how many people use their systems just the fact that they are beautiful is all that is necessary. For companies who strive to give the guests what they want and who’s business model is centered around number of engagements, the Mac just hasn’t hit its stride yet. We keep trying again every so often but as of yet still waiting.

  • Conor Conay Jackson

    It’s Queen Mary 2, not Queen Mary. The Queen Mary was retired many years ago.

    And the Queen Mary 2 is an Ocean Liner, not a cruise ship.