Should I bring my laptop on cruise ship vacation or leave it at home?
For many of us personal computers and laptops have an important role in work and life. We all know that, and apparently cruise lines know that too.
That is the reason why they put a lot of effort into facilities and services that will cover information technology needs of passengers.
For many people it is enough just to exchange few emails with their families or friends during vacation and they can do that from internet café located either on the ship or in the port.
However, there are a certain number of cruisers that do not want to separate from their laptops even during their precious vacation time on ship. This could be for various reasons: catching-up their work if needed, keeping on internet activities or games or having access to personal files such are photos or videos, etc …
There are some things to keep in mind when you decide to bring laptop to cruise:
Before booking check with cruise line or travel agent is there and what kind of internet access is available on ship. That really depends from one ship to another.
Few scenarios are possible:
o No internet access at all, in this case you can use your laptop in your cabin or anywhere else but only
o Internet access trough ship's local area network, you will need network cable to connect and probably ship's IT personnel to help you with setup
o WI-FI access is best and most comfortable solution, available mostly on new, modern ships. You can use your laptop wherever you want, in your cabin or in any public area where WI-FI signal is present. Of course, your model needs to have wireless access antenna to use this feature.
Note that lines charge internet access and it's usually not included in fare. Prices may vary and you better check them in advanced.
Another important issue to consider is security. You can not carry your laptop with you all the time and it's good to know few things on how to avoid headache caused by losing valuable data or such-like …
o First make a good backup of all of your data on some media like CD or memory stick and keep it on safe at home. If you do that, whatever happens to the laptop you will have your data and be able to recover from loss.
o Remove your business data from laptop before trip if they are not absolutely necessary. In case it's stolen, for sure the last thing you want is that potential thief has a top classified data from your company. This happens more often than you would think and in some cases consequences can be disastrous. So remove your business data on CD mentioned above, keep it on safe place and put them back on after vacation. If it is really necessary to have business data on it even on a cruise you may consider using software encryption to secure them.
o Secure access to your laptop with password. Most basic password protection is the one implemented in your operating system (Microsoft Windows mostly). For extra protection it is also possible to use BIOS password. BIOS is basic computer setup menu which can be accessed if you press DEL (or some other key key dependent of manufacturer) key during machine startup. This function is usually being displayed as "press DEL to enter setup" on most laptops. Three kind of passwords are possible to enable that:
1. Boot password – to allow only authorized boot up of operating system.
2. Hard disk lock password – to secure your hard disk with password in case it has been removed from your laptop and used in some other machine.
3. BIOS access password – is to secure entering BIOS settings where first two passwords can be turned off.
Those advanced measures are not recommended to be handled by inexperienced users. If you decide to use BIOS passwords it is highly recommended to ask for a professional assistance.
o If your cabin has a safe and laptop can fit in use it. Since this is not the case on most of the ships, another option is to check if your machine has a security lock slot. If it does, you can purchase a security cable which enables you to lock laptop to some non movable object and prevent theft. Recently on market
can be found another type of security cables that use VGA port if your model does not have security slot.
o Avoid making naïve mistakes like having a sheet of paper with passwords in carrying case or such-like
o Do not leave your laptop on public places like hotel lobbies or airports without keeping an eye on it
Of course, not all measures mentioned above should be necessary but that's all up to you to make the best judgment on how to protect your assets.
Taking a few simple precaution measures can spare you of trouble and definitely can prevent ruining your vacation.