atrium

Much has already and will continue to be written about Royal Caribbean’s new mega-ship, the “Oasis of the Seas.” With a capacity of over 6,000 passengers (plus crew), 16 passenger decks, and more bells and whistles than most amusement parks, it’s not a ship that inspires lukewarm feelings.

And their latest enhancement/fee will no doubt be as polarizing as the ship itself: a $17.50 charge for an onboard smart phone that will help you not lose your children.

As most parents who have cruises with children know, most ships require young children to wear wristbands. Now, on the Oasis of the season, the wrist bands will have a passive electronic device embedded. Parents who rent the “Royal Connect” phones will be able to track their children anywhere on the ship.

The phones will also work for adults to text and talk to each other onboard, without the usual roaming charges on cellphones. And they will allow passengers to check onboard activities and make spa and restaurant reservations — that is, onboard spa and restaurants only; the phones will be specially modified iPhones, but they also won’t work for calling home or anywhere off the ship, even in port.

On land, cellphones have already eliminated much of the lost children problem for families. But not all children are old enough to carry the phones, and some parents actually might prefer not to start the habit sooner than they have to. So presumably a temporary tracking wristband and device could be useful at theme parks, shopping malls, and other attractions. Maybe even at airports, especially for parents who have seen the “Home Alone” movies.

And since travel companies are continually looking for new revenue generators, presumably what amounts to basically electronic lost child insurance could be a big money maker. If this experiment works. I do have to wonder what happens the first time some child figures out how to cut the wristband and throw it overboard.

(Photo: Airgap/flickr.com/creative commons)