Ever since the iPad’s launch, assorted hotels have been rolling out the gadget as an amenity in different forms. At these forward-looking spots, guests are reading the morning paper, previewing rooms before checking in, and booking massages, expeditions, and restaurants using the new gadget.
And now the iPad (and its ilk) have recently popped up at sea.
Celebrity Cruises’ new vessel, Celebrity Eclipse, launched in April as the third in the cruise line’s sleek Solstice Class fleet of ships. Some of the best amenities from the other two ships (Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox) show up on the newest ship. These include the Hot Glass Show, with live demonstrations of glassblowing (and unique to Eclipse, a retail store selling the products) and the popular Lawn Club, a half-acre of real grass that channels a country club with putting and games of croquet and quoits.
The Eclipse’s new amenities, however, are decidedly 2010. Like its predecessors, the ship features a number of formal and casual dining venues, but breaks new ground with its upscale restaurant Qsine (we’re willing to overlook the gimmicky name—pronounced “Q-seen”—because the concept delivers). The slick spot turns out experimental plates such as sushi lollipops (Nigiri sushi with a soy sauce center), an original take on the dining trend de jour that is meatballs, and make-it-yourself guacamole. Diners peruse the menu and the wine list with a flick of the finger—both are found on iPads that servers bring to the table in lieu of paper menus. The virtual wine list includes tasting notes and images of the bottle labels.
While the real value of an iPad menu—beyond the fun/novelty factor—is questionable, the usefulness of the vessel’s Celebrity iLounge is not. Yes, anyone who’s not on the Apple, er, boat will roll their eyes at the ubiquitousness of it all, but there’s no denying that the iLounge goes light years beyond the typical business center. In addition to plenty of MacBook Pros on which to check email and surf the Internet, the lounge offers a classroom space in which experts lead demonstrations on topics such as do-it-yourself photo books, movie editing, and web design, using programs including iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD and iWeb. The staff can also help troubleshoot tech problems and fix your gadgets (like a Genius Bar minus the wait!). Last but not least, the iLounge sells a full array of Apple products from iPods to laptops.
And naturally, the whole scene is ensconced in the slick, loungelike atmosphere that Applephites have come to know and love.