HIGH TECH ON THE HIGH SEAS: How information technology supports shipboard operations.

HIGH TECH ON THE HIGH SEAS: How information technology supports shipboard operations.

The role of IT is crucial to the success of each ocean voyage. Navigational systems on the bridge help guide the ship from port to port. Digital signage helps direct guests onboard. Onboard kiosks help guests make dinner reservations, book shore excursions, set spa appointments, customize photographs and online photo and video albums, and so much more. Networks from the back office to the back of the theater rely on experienced IT professionals to help make each sailing seamless. On top of that, quick connectivity to the “real world” on shore is expected — guests and crew want to update, like, share, stream, tweet and pin whenever they want, even if it’s in the middle of the ocean.

If you have a background in network operating systems, management and configuration, you could take your knowledge, skills and experience — and career — to sea. As a shipboard systems manager, you’d be responsible for the day-to-day operations of various software platforms, much like an IT system manager at a land-based company. Are you a hardware technician? Cruise lines need you to install, maintain, upgrade and troubleshoot onboard their ships. And tech-savvy folks with excellent sales and presentation skills would make great Internet café managers, helping guests with their questions and even offering software training classes.

Cruise lines are also finding new and exciting ways to keep up with guest and crew demand for faster connectivity. Most communication is transmitted via geostationary satellites, which can have a longer “wait” time. But some cruise lines are introducing more flexible satellite systems closer to Earth. These “constellations” of satellites deliver data faster, cheaper and better than traditional satellites — the onboard high-speed broadband Internet access and “smart” mobile service guests and crew now expect. Royal Caribbean International, for example, is using this technology onboard four of their largest ships.