It's not that I'm such a frequent ferry traveller but every now and then I'll use the Calmac ferries to visit the mainland. There are other folk who use the ferry far more frequently than myself, for pleasure and most of all for work, business, family or hospital visits. Most of these folk usually spend their time onboard having a bite to eat followed by reading a book, enjoying the scenery, sleeping, talking with a fellow passenger or basically doing nothing. It can become quite boring with a journey time of 2hrs 20mins when you do it a couple of times a week or month.
As we live in an information age a lot of passengers also try to make the best use of their 3G mobile internet signal, if any, which can last for maybe 30 minutes or more from departure time, all depending on your provider. But at least for an hour or more we are without any connection to the internet. Is that a bad thing? Well yes, sometimes it is, I know for me it is and I'm sure for many others too, especially considering it can't be that hard to install it. Let me explain why... Continue reading....
On the occasions I had to use the ferry I would have loved the availability of WiFi onboard. I am a bit addicted to being online, I must admit, and who isn't these days, but having internet access gives me the option to email folk, get some work done and make sure that when I arrive on my destination I have made the best of my precious time. That way I have more time to spend with my family or do other stuff. Sounds nice doesn't it? I am absolutely convinced that most folk would love to be able to connect to WiFi on the Calmac ferries. So why don't we have it then? I don't have a clue.
A couple of years ago Calmac announced in a press release that investigations were going on to find out if it would be feasible to have WiFi onboard. Here is what they wrote back then: "We hope to tender and transition to a new service model during 2013 and the formal procurement process for this has started. We share everyone's frustration that we cannot progress this as quickly as we would all like but we hope that everyone will appreciate that there are significant technological challenges and costs associated with it and we have to get it right." A great and welcome initiative, but ever since that time, mind you it was early 2013, the communication about this particular subject was just as absent as the mobile data signal and WiFi in the middle of the Sound of Jura.
For me it's a missed opportunity on behalf of Calmac. They are excellent in providing a lifeline ferry service to the islands, just like they have done for many years, but what I miss sometimes is a bit forward thinking, being a bit more progressive, being a bit more 21st century and perhaps also being a bit more communicative about these matters as well. This post alone might not bring WiFi onboard, I understand that, but perhaps it might start the ball rolling again... Fingers crossed, it would make many folk happy, me included!
Update: This morning I asked Calmac about the status of WiFi on the Islay service and they kindly responded as follows: "We have contacted the relevant department regarding wifi on the Islay service and have been advised that due to supply issues that are outwith our control, we are unable to give an exact date of when it will be available on the service. We're sorry for the inconvenience the current lack of wifi causes our customers and are working hard with our supplier and BT to have this resolved as soon as possible."