Celebrity Eclipse restaurant claims iPad first

A restaurant onboard one of the world’s newest and most advanced cruise ships has become the first in the world to have its menus made available on Apple iPads.

Celebrity Cruises’ 2,800-passenger Celebrity Eclipse was officially named in Southampton on Saturday having taken part in a rescue mission to Spain for 2,000 British holidaymakers stranded due to the ash cloud crisis.

One of the ship’s specialist restaurants Qsine, developed by the line’s vice president of culinary operations Chef Jacques Van Staden, has iPads which waiters hand out to diners and on which they can browse the menu and choose their wine.

The iPads, which went on sale in the US earlier this month, themselves nearly did not make the inaugural celebrations having been caught up in the flights ban on their way from the factory in the Far East.

They eventually arrived in the UK, like many stranded travellers, having taken a succession of flights and visited a series of countries.

The use of the iPads is part of a partnership Celebrity has struck with Apple which has also seen the ship fitted with the line’s first iLounge internet cafe.

The lounge offers access to MacBooks for internet browsing, has the latest Apple gadgets for sale and will offer guests tips and hints on how to use their Macs or iPods.

The iLounge has proved so popular already Celebrity has announced it will be retro-fitted to two of its other ships; Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Solstice.

Meanwhile, speaking onboard Eclipse at the weekend UK acting managing director Jo Rzymowska said Celebrity had been ramping up its online branding efforts.

The premium line has a relatively lower profile than mainstream sister operator Royal Caribbean International in the UK but Eclipse represents a significant investment in the UK being the first ship it has dedicated to the market for a season.

“We are investing a lot more than we have every done in the Celebrity brand online. We have significantly upped our pay per click activity for Celebrity,” Rzymowska said.

Although US bosses appeared to rule out a UK television campaign for the brand in addition to Royal Caribbean’s existing TV advertising, Rzymowska confidently predicted this will not be the case for long.

“While we have not got any immediate plans for TV, I would say in the foreseeable future we will have above the line campaigns,” she said.

A new corporate video was unveiled to the trade at the weekend with accompanying 30-second vignettes which travel agents will be encouraged to use on their websites.

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