You wouldn't want to be unreachable while on a cruise, now would you? Wireless Maritime Services (Cingular plus another firm) have signed Royal Caribbean for their on-ship GSM service. The service will allow some data services and GSM voice calls at a roaming rate that isn't mentioned, but is likely to be huge but not enormous. Because the ships already offer unbelievably expensive satellite-based phone service, they would see a dip by offering passengers the ease of a cell phone. However, usage would likely be dozens or hundreds of times higher. I would expect a sub-dollar-a-minute rate, but possibly not far below that, given that Cingular was (at least a year ago) charging a dollar a minute for roaming into Canada with my service plan.
The service is already available on Majesty of the Seas. The cruise line will add service to Navigator of the Seas and the Celebrity ship Summit in a few weeks. The entire 29-ship fleet will have service in 2005.
While I'm sure that businesspeople appreciate being reachable at all times, the extension of cell service into new areas, such as trains, planes, and cruise lines mean more incursion on the public aural space and more retraction of the concept of personal time away from work and obligations. The cruise line's COO mentions family and voicemail, but it's really about dollars and cents. The cruise lines need additional ways to bring in revenue from their passengers, and this is certainly one of them.
Expect angry spouses (male and female) to seize cell phone batteries on board for the duration of cruises after "just this one more call" or the phone ringing during a quiet, romantic dinner.