By David F. Carr  |  Posted 2004-08-25 Print this article Print

-class Tech"> Smooth Sailing

Since then, to great fanfare, the QM2 has visited the Caribbean and New York.

Beliveau says the interactive TV e-mail accounts have proved popular, which is good news for Cunard at $1.50 per message. Other charges have been ringing up nicely as well, including a service that lets passengers order a bottle of wine so its chilled in time for dinner.

When Beliveau adds up all the direct and indirect ways the system helps the ship make money, he figures it will pay for itself in three or four years.

Karen Segboer and her husband sailed on the QM2s first eastward crossing from New York to England. And they appreciated being connected to a first-class system. "When we got into our room, there was a message on the TV saying, Welcome, Karen and Hans," she recalls.

Soon, she was using the interactive TV to order photos taken by the ships photographers, make restaurant reservations, and exchange e-mail with her dog sitter. She also avoided making trips to the pursers office and other far-flung locations, she says: "The QM2 is so huge that to walk from one end to the other is a big deal. Id have needed another vacation."

Cunard Line Base Case

Headquarters: c/o Carnival Corp. and PLC, 3655 N.W. 87th Ave., Miami, FL 33178

Phone: (305) 599-2600

Business: Best known as the operator of the Queen Elizabeth 2, Cunard Line became a division of Carnival Cruise Lines after its acquisition in 1999. The companys newest addition, the Queen Mary 2, made its maiden voyage in January.

Director of Worldwide Technology: Frank Finch

Financials: Parent company Carnival Corp. earned $1.2 billion on sales of $7.6 billion in 2003. Revenues for Cunard are not reported separately.

Challenges: Create a digital passenger experience worthy of the Cunard name, implementing systems in the chaotic environment of a ship under construction and with an immovable deadline.

Baseline Goals:

  • Make $120 million a year, or about a 15% return on investment, on the Queen Mary 2, compared to the $780 million ship construction cost.
  • Eliminate a $500,000-a-year loss on Internet access by switching to a new satellite bandwidth provider and instituting better access control, first deployed aboard the QM2.
  • Demonstrate the value of spending $4 milion on an all-digital interactive TV system, which was twice as much as the analog system recommended by Carnivals management.

    David F. Carr David F. Carr is the Technology Editor for Baseline Magazine, a Ziff Davis publication focused on information technology and its management, with an emphasis on measurable, bottom-line results. He wrote two of Baseline's cover stories focused on the role of technology in disaster recovery, one focused on the response to the tsunami in Indonesia and another on the City of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.David has been the author or co-author of many Baseline Case Dissections on corporate technology successes and failures (such as the role of Kmart's inept supply chain implementation in its decline versus Wal-Mart or the successful use of technology to create new market opportunities for office furniture maker Herman Miller). He has also written about the FAA's halting attempts to modernize air traffic control, and in 2003 he traveled to Sierra Leone and Liberia to report on the role of technology in United Nations peacekeeping.David joined Baseline prior to the launch of the magazine in 2001 and helped define popular elements of the magazine such as Gotcha!, which offers cautionary tales about technology pitfalls and how to avoid them.

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