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Shipboard switch offers smooth sailing.

When an entire city can sail the seas of the world, the consultants and engineers who design its communications system encounter a set of requirements as unique as the ports of call the cruise ship visits.

Rolm Internatinal has equipped three of Princess Cruises passenger liners -- the Sky Princess, the Star Princess and the Crown Princess -- with system implementations tailored specifically to meet the unique requirements of Princess Cruises luxury floating cities and the 5-star service Princess affords its passengers.

A fourth liner -- the Regal Princess -- will be outfitted in 1991 with a Rolm 9751 Model 50 with approximately 1350 lines.

Normal hospitality industry requirements cannot be simply translated into cruise ship requirements. After all, unlike hotels, people do not check into cabins unexpectedly, and they do not check out early. Other requirements become more important. They include:

Reliability. Shipboard communications, such as between the bridge and the engine room, are crucial to the operation of the vessel. The reliability of the system as installed is also of greater-than-normal concern because spare parts are not easily obtained in the middle of an ocean -- or even in many of Princess Cruises' international ports of call.

Rolm goes overboard, so to speak, to provide the extremely high level of reliability Princess Cruises require.

Before implementation on board, the firm "installs" the complete configured system in its lab and burns it in. The company assumes responsibility for the entire turn-key system and its installation.

The most critical customer training guideline is that first-level maintenance must be the owner's responsibility. Before agreeing to install a system, Rolm must have an agreement that a ship's technical staff will get formal training--either in classes at the company's facility in Santa Clara, or on board the shipp.

An exceptionally high-level of documentation is provided. The 9751 CBX provides redundancy of both the CPU and the TDM. Redundancy is also provided for the DC power supplies.

Because installation is on a moving vessel, equipment cabinets are welded to the ship's deck.

Besides requiring only single-pair wiring, reducing cabling weight, the use of digital Rolm phones provides another measure of reliability because the wiring is much less susceptible to noise induction from ship machinery than would be analog lines.

Small Footprint. Shipboard space is money in a way that normal office space is not.

Older switching systems on ships, for instance, sometimes took up as much as 1000 square feet. That translates into the loss of two cabins--and the fares they might generate over the life of the ship.

The compactness of the Model 5O is ideal for shipboard use.

With the combination of digital telephones and digital switching, the switch's space requirements are cut by a factor of more than two-and-a-half while doubling the line-size of its systems.

Digital Features. Digital phones with calling name display and single-button speed dialing enable Princess Cruises to offer the high-level of service expected by its passengers.

By pushing one button, passengers can be immediately connected to stateroom steward for refreshments and passenger service, the reception desk for information, the radio room to arrange an off-ship call or send a fax or the medical center in case of illness.

As a result, the use of shipboard services--and ship owner revenue--increases.

Rolm 400s in the central reception area are configured with overflow lines, speed dialing and emergency ringdowns which allow the desk to handle calls more quickly and efficiently, especially when nearing a port and calling traffic is heavy.

Calling name display can facilitate the speed and accuracy of critical communications, for instance, those between the wheelhouse and the radio or engine control rooms. With it, the location of any of the 600 crew members who place a call to report a problem is instantly available to the officer called.

Princess Cruises has made special efforts to support handicapped passengers, like providing wide corridors and handicap cabins.

Speed dial and calling name display make communications easier for them, and can be important if emergency assistance were ever required.

Switch engineers are working to develop a system which will automate the downloading of the passenger cabin list to the CBX, so that on every cruise, shipboard passenger calls can be handled with an extra personal response.

Automatic ringdown--a system where a pre-programmed telephone rings automatically when the handset is lifted from the calling phone--is used to provide special passenger services.

For instance, emergency phones in the ship's elevators automatically ring the reception area and the engineering department.

Calling name display immediately identifies the problem area.

Ship-to-Shore Communications. A major advantage for Princess Cruises is that its system is able to interface with all forms of ship-to-shore communications. Passengers can easily call anywhere in the world from their cabins.

Behind the scenes, Rolm engineers developed an intricate Rolmphone 400 application solution to offer direct interfaces to radio, satellite and shore lines without additional engineering in the radio room (see diagram).

The radio officer is able to process all types of calls from just one phone using speed dialing--an operation that traditionally required that the radio officer manually use as many as seven different devices.

As an ultimate backup system, analog bypass telephones are hardwired to both radio and satellite communications equipment. Special engineering was used to take a direct inward dial approach to provide direct inward system access. This enables fax traffic to a fax machine, and it also enables Princess Cruises office staff to directly call officers aboard their ships.

Because shipboard fax machines are switched through the CBX, they can be located anywhere on the ship without requiring special cabling. By switching fax machine traffic, the CBX adds the capability of chooing the most economical route, such as a shore line when the ship is in port.

Without this capability, fax machines would have to be directly connected to satellite equipment, and fax traffic would be restricted to expensive satellite transmission rates.

The call detail recording (CDR) feature captures all ship-to-shore activity by radio, satellite and, when in port, shore lines. Princess Cruises will soon add cellular communications capability to ships in the Caribbean.

With data switching, the CDR printer can be located anywhere on the ship, and not limited to the RS232C restriction of 50 feet. Ship-to-shore communications is a lucrative resale business for Princess Cruises. Providing easy access to ship-to-shore communications for customers and efficient call handling for radio operators is an important benefit of the CBX configuration ROLM provided.

Data Switching. The data switching capability of the CBX and modem pooling have created additional operating efficiencies for Princess Cruise ships. Ships that are so equipped can easily link to computers at headquarters and reservation and travel services.

Communications, such as ships orders and hotel reservations for passengers, can be executed through the main office or the next port.

Rolm technicians in Santa Clara, California, can access--via modem--a shipboard CBX anywhere in the world to perform remote diagnosis should a need arise. That provides an additional level of reliability for the owner.

The process of installing shipboard can be a lengthy one, usually two years from signing to commissioning acceptance, and installation has special requirements because of the nature of moving vessels and the fact that they are generally built in foreign shipyards.

The greatest percentage of cruise ship passengers are repeat customers. The service they receive is the key determining factor of whether they will be repeat customers.

New shipboard communications capabilities enhance Princess' customer revenue flow and save costs.

Even the phones in passenger cabins are brightly decorated with the three-color Princess Cruise logo, indicative of the high-level of service this vendor/customer team offers to Princess Cruise passengers.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Travel/Hospitality
Publication:Communications News
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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