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Regent App and Excursions

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6 hours ago, rallydave said:

Agree with you completely FlyerTalker.  Even with the hoped for encryption on the guides router cyber criminals are sure to figure this out and simply follow the tour bus and get into all the data on the cell phones and steal your information.  Using the quiet vox system that really would have to be provided by Regent even if people get into the wifi, no data in the quiet vox to steal.

 

If I had a criminal streak, I'd set myself up with a "free wifi" operation in some of the mass-market Caribbean ports.  I've seen hordes rushing to use the "free" wifi in the port, rather than buy a package from their cruiseline.  And I'd guess that 90+% use no kind of security, leaving their devices free for the picking.

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Posted (edited)

OK, we're currently on board the Explorer on the Scandinavian Summer cruise which finishes tomorrow.  We received the email regarding the use of the Smartphone App AFTER we had left home - I didn't even bring my phone with me, as my husband has his.  So downloading the app on board given the average bandwidth available would be nigh on impossible.

 

Once the app is downloaded, on an excursion you set your phone to 'Flight Mode', then tune into the channel usually numbered the same as your bus.

 

We have been on five tours so far where this facility has been available.  It has actually only been used on one of them - by 5 out of the 24 tour participants.  The other four were abandoned by the tour guide as no-one had the app installed and they (the guides) resented carrying around the heavy, bulky receiver supplied by Regent required to transmit to the 'phones.  Tour participants were delighted.

 

This is not restricted to just the free tours, but the Regent Choice ones as well.

 

Passengers are not happy with the new system as 1. It requires a compatible phone.  2. It requires your phone battery to be charged sufficiently - one of our tours was nearly 14 hours. 3. You need to have an appropriate earpiece - a wireless one would be best.  4. Smartphones are valuable items in hot demand by thieves and pickpockets; using them so openly creates a risk in certain countries.

 

Considering Regent's demographic, I think they should rethink this initiative.  I have passed on this information to Regent, but I am just a single voice - for any change to occur, it would have to come from the wider Regent community.

 

I have used the 'whisperers' referred to in previous posts and agree they work fine.  The tour operators are given a special unit for themselves at the tour outset which sure beats the bulky receiver Regent supplies to them for this current process.

 

I don't know who convinced Miami this was good (and presumably cost saving) idea - but it's a big FAIL from me!

 

 

Edited by Catpow

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5 hours ago, Catpow said:

I don't know who convinced Miami this was good (and presumably cost saving) idea - but it's a big FAIL from me!

 

Probably the guy selling the system....who might be someone's cousin  (bringing out my conspiratorial side).

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I'm sorry, but I don't think that using a public (unsecured) wifi allows someone to just "get all the data from your cellphone".  It depends on what you do.  Doing anything compromising where the web pages are not https is risky to say the least, but not sure this application would be that risky.

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6 hours ago, Wendy The Wanderer said:

I'm sorry, but I don't think that using a public (unsecured) wifi allows someone to just "get all the data from your cellphone".  It depends on what you do.  Doing anything compromising where the web pages are not https is risky to say the least, but not sure this application would be that risky.

 

It is unsecured wifi that has data stolen all of the time.  Being in or around China is supposedly one of the biggest hacking areas.  Keep in mind that your cell phone tracks where you are (and allows others to do the same thing).  So, if you are tracked in Australia and live in the U.S., someone can learn that you are not at home and you could be robbed.  This stuff is happening on a regular basis.

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2 minutes ago, Travelcat2 said:

 

It is unsecured wifi that has data stolen all of the time.  Being in or around China is supposedly one of the biggest hacking areas.  Keep in mind that your cell phone tracks where you are (and allows others to do the same thing).  So, if you are tracked in Australia and live in the U.S., someone can learn that you are not at home and you could be robbed.  This stuff is happening on a regular basis.

 

Yes, but you actually have to browse somewhere for that to happen.  In the case of this app, that might not be how it works.  I don't know, I'm just speculating (and since I'm not cruising for another 16 months, I'm not going to install the app.)

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Your phone is transmitting information even if you aren't doing anything.  Android is checking for updates, your cloud based apps (including email, calendar and more) are pinging for new information, and any push notifications are coming in.

 

Now, it is a bit more difficult than just intercepting your "browsing" with a Man In The Middle attack, but if you think that your device is just sitting there dormant if you aren't browsing...well, I've got a bridge out to PEI that you might be interested in.

 

Even more so, a determined hacker now has an access path to make a direct attack on your system.  How good is the firewall on your phone?

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5 minutes ago, FlyerTalker said:

How good is the firewall on your phone?

 

Well I actually have one, but I don't know.  Point taken.

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While I agree that this new idea is not very good, until we have a betteru nderstanding of how it works and if it allows hackers in we cannot determine the technical problems.

 

From what I have seen and read, the phones will all be in airplane mode and connecting only to the modem carried by the guide that has no connection other than to the peoples phones.  Hopefully the wifi signal is encrypted and requires a strong password to connect to the standalone modem.  We really need more information to see if it is safe to connect your phone but, clear it was not a good idea to buy into this voice system.

 

HOpefully the system is safe but, without further information, impossible to really know but, the rollout is extremely unimpressive. 

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Good article Wendy - thanks for posting!  FlyerTalker - thank you for the explanation!

 

It sounds as if the new system may work well (for people that want to use it).  It will take time for passengers to get used to it - given the fact that change, in general, is not well received by some people and also given the age of some passengers.  

 

I think that some complaints posted here are valid but other things - not so much.  If you are on a 12 hour excursion, one does not need it to be on for 12 hours.  And, if the tour operator thinks that the receiver unit is too heavy, they need to deal with it.   It would be nice if the app could be installed while on the ship and also if Regent could put a note in your "Final Documents" that explains this option.  

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I complained to Destination Services after returning from a walking tour in Malaga. There were 25-30 on the tour, and unless you were right next to the tour guide, you couldn't hear a word. I asked why Whisper listeners weren't used, and was told the local guides don't provide them. So, first of all, Regent, cut down the tour size of a walking tour OR provide another way for passengers to enjoy their INCLUDED tour. Yes, other cruise lines do it.

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Just came back from a Baltic Tour and the SmartGuide was pretty much a disaster imho. 

1. As it is new, not many people knew about it and tried to download it. As the app is close to 60 MB, one can imagine the difficulty this created over the ship's wifi/internet. Most people gave up. 

2. Passages mentions which tour will be guided through this app. Well, more than 2/3s of the guides never heard of it and didn't have a setup. Some had the old audio devices handy, others just walked in front and talked to the people who were able to stick close, others (elderly mostly) were left in the void. 

3. Of the guides who had the setup, all assumed that all passengers on their tour had the app, so they didn't provide alternatives. So if you had the app (and got it working), you had some audio, if not, tough luck. 

4. The app connects via wifi and audio is acceptable. No data plan or cellular data is needed. 

5. You are required to bring your own phone and headphones, make sure it works and you can handle the app setup and use. Again, we saw difficulties and the guide was no help. 

 

The old fashioned audio guides worked better imho. 

 

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On 9/12/2019 at 9:07 AM, Gcto said:

Just came back from a Baltic Tour and the SmartGuide was pretty much a disaster imho. 

1. As it is new, not many people knew about it and tried to download it. As the app is close to 60 MB, one can imagine the difficulty this created over the ship's wifi/internet. Most people gave up. 

2. Passages mentions which tour will be guided through this app. Well, more than 2/3s of the guides never heard of it and didn't have a setup. Some had the old audio devices handy, others just walked in front and talked to the people who were able to stick close, others (elderly mostly) were left in the void. 

3. Of the guides who had the setup, all assumed that all passengers on their tour had the app, so they didn't provide alternatives. So if you had the app (and got it working), you had some audio, if not, tough luck. 

4. The app connects via wifi and audio is acceptable. No data plan or cellular data is needed. 

5. You are required to bring your own phone and headphones, make sure it works and you can handle the app setup and use. Again, we saw difficulties and the guide was no help. 

 

The old fashioned audio guides worked better imho. 

 

I think something like this could work well...IF it’s handled properly, which it sounds like this wasn’t.  Ideally, Regent would advise passengers to install the app prior to departing so they already have it.  Also they need to make sure that the guides have the equipment if they’re supposed to have it.

 

i always have my phone and AirPods handy and I’d much prefer to use those than have to deal with another device/cables and those hideously uncomfortable and tinny earbuds.

 

Sounds like an idea with potential that’s not fully fleshed out yet.

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7 minutes ago, UUNetBill said:

Sounds like an idea with potential that’s not fully fleshed out yet.

SINcerely believe this is a misguided idea without potential and  needs to be rethought to a system like those on River Cruises where the cruise line provides the reasonably sized equipment while providing all of the equipment including special hardware to take care of people using hearing aids.

 

THe demographics on Regent are older people many of which use hearing aids which will not allow the use of airpods, earb uds, or anything having to go into the ears.  Also many of these customers do not have smart phones, have difficulty adding and manipulating apps and wear hearing aids not usable with ear buds or pods.

 

The right answer is for Regent to purchase the systems and provide them to the customers and tour guides.  Making the tour guides purchase the units is a bad idea as it would increase the tour costs and limit the number of tour operators. Regent cruise to so many poor ports would end up with no excursions.

 

They were sold a bill of goods with this crazy idea and need to regroup with a reasonable way that all the people on tour canh ear the tour guide.

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10 minutes ago, rallydave said:

SINcerely believe this is a misguided idea without potential and  needs to be rethought to a system like those on River Cruises where the cruise line provides the reasonably sized equipment while providing all of the equipment including special hardware to take care of people using hearing aids.

 

THe demographics on Regent are older people many of which use hearing aids which will not allow the use of airpods, earb uds, or anything having to go into the ears.  Also many of these customers do not have smart phones, have difficulty adding and manipulating apps and wear hearing aids not usable with ear buds or pods.

 

The right answer is for Regent to purchase the systems and provide them to the customers and tour guides.  Making the tour guides purchase the units is a bad idea as it would increase the tour costs and limit the number of tour operators. Regent cruise to so many poor ports would end up with no excursions.

 

They were sold a bill of goods with this crazy idea and need to regroup with a reasonable way that all the people on tour canh ear the tour guide.

Dave, I’ll still have to disagree with you on this one.  I’ve seen more problems with the included radio receivers - dead batteries, wrong channel selections, terrible range, etc. - that delay tours or render the systems unusable.  I applaud Regent for trying to leverage newer technology to improve the tours while at the same time chastise them for pushing out a product that apparently isn’t ready for prime time.

 

And I also have to disagree that age is a deterrent to technology.  Our next cruise is with my mom and her husband for his 80th birthday (she’ll be 82) and they both have and use smart phones.  Mom uses her phone to stream music, look up information, text everyone, and she uses AirPods in conjunction with her hearing aids.  No, age doesn’t preclude someone from using new technology - a lack of desire to learn does.

 

In my opinion, of course.   😁

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7 minutes ago, UUNetBill said:

Dave, I’ll still have to disagree with you on this one.  I’ve seen more problems with the included radio receivers - dead batteries, wrong channel selections, terrible range, etc. - that delay tours or render the systems unusable.  I applaud Regent for trying to leverage newer technology to improve the tours while at the same time chastise them for pushing out a product that apparently isn’t ready for prime time.

 

And I also have to disagree that age is a deterrent to technology.  Our next cruise is with my mom and her husband for his 80th birthday (she’ll be 82) and they both have and use smart phones.  Mom uses her phone to stream music, look up information, text everyone, and she uses AirPods in conjunction with her hearing aids.  No, age doesn’t preclude someone from using new technology - a lack of desire to learn does.

 

In my opinion, of course.   😁

Bill, do understand your points and of course there are those elderly people who use technology and there are those who do not, cannot and won't.  You are correct in your first paragraph but, those issues also can affect smart phones plus transmitter Regent provides.  As to the transmitter have already had posted on this thread how heavy the transmitter is and that at least one tour guide refused to carry it.

 

Tried to look up using air pods with my hearing aids and could find information about air pods replacing but, not in conjunctionn.  Saw pictures how they attach to the ear however i have molds around my speaker that go in my ears thus the pods could not be held in place.  Also people don't want to carry their smartphones in dangerous ports.

 

Yes, of course there are pros and cons however Regent needs to be all inclusive and take care of everyone technology savvy or not smart phones or not, etc.  With small ships and low passenger counts they should supply the equipment just like river cruises and a small number of tour guides do.  Without that they are limiting the enjoyment of many paying customers.

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44 minutes ago, UUNetBill said:

 No, age doesn’t preclude someone from using new technology - a lack of desire to learn does.

 

There's a lot of "lack of desire" as well as "lack of knowledge".

 

As evidence, check out the computer person on the first day or two of any Regent cruise.  If he doesn't have a line of folks needing his assistance, I'll buy you a drink on our next Regent cruise together.

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41 minutes ago, rallydave said:

Bill, do understand your points and of course there are those elderly people who use technology and there are those who do not, cannot and won't.  You are correct in your first paragraph but, those issues also can affect smart phones plus transmitter Regent provides.  As to the transmitter have already had posted on this thread how heavy the transmitter is and that at least one tour guide refused to carry it.

 

Tried to look up using air pods with my hearing aids and could find information about air pods replacing but, not in conjunctionn.  Saw pictures how they attach to the ear however i have molds around my speaker that go in my ears thus the pods could not be held in place.  Also people don't want to carry their smartphones in dangerous ports.

 

Yes, of course there are pros and cons however Regent needs to be all inclusive and take care of everyone technology savvy or not smart phones or not, etc.  With small ships and low passenger counts they should supply the equipment just like river cruises and a small number of tour guides do.  Without that they are limiting the enjoyment of many paying customers.

Dave, as is so typical on CC, our discussions highlight the difficulties Regent, or any cruise line, faces when trying to decide how to conduct business.  I guess the answer is that there’s no right answer.

 

Ideally someone would develop some sort of lightweight dual-band transmitter that would broadcast the guide’s voice on both WiFi and RF simultaneously, thereby giving passengers the choice of using a radio receiver or their own device.  I can only assume that that option doesn’t exist.

 

Business opportunity?

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15 minutes ago, FlyerTalker said:

 

There's a lot of "lack of desire" as well as "lack of knowledge".

 

As evidence, check out the computer person on the first day or two of any Regent cruise.  If he doesn't have a line of folks needing his assistance, I'll buy you a drink on our next Regent cruise together.

Well, that “line of folks” is folks with the desire to learn.  I never said it would be easy...   😄

 

It’s only when you get that “I don’t need to learn this newfangled technology” mindset that I get frustrated.  Thinking like that, we’d all still be living in caves...never stop learning, that’s what I say.

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14 minutes ago, UUNetBill said:

Dave, as is so typical on CC, our discussions highlight the difficulties Regent, or any cruise line, faces when trying to decide how to conduct business.  I guess the answer is that there’s no right answer.

 

Ideally someone would develop some sort of lightweight dual-band transmitter that would broadcast the guide’s voice on both WiFi and RF simultaneously, thereby giving passengers the choice of using a radio receiver or their own device.  I can only assume that that option doesn’t exist.

 

Business opportunity?

But it does exist, the Quiet Vox the River Cruise and some turo operators like we had in St Petersburg.  People can't and don't want to carry their expensive smart phones that some don't have and others don't want  to carry or don't know how to operate well.  The river cruise lines have bit the bullet to purchase the systems.  Regent needs to do the same rather than wasting their money buying this wrong product.  In the bit scheme of things with the relatively low number of passengers, it would not be a budget breaker to equip all of the ships with the proven system that works well and provides ALL of the paying customers the ability to hear the tour guide without going thru the rigamarole of the not thought out current disaster.

 

They were obviously sold a pig in a poke and you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.  People paying near $1,000/day/person deserve to be provided what they need to hear the tour guides on their "Free" shore excursions.  And, yes i know they are NOT "Free".

Edited by rallydave

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49 minutes ago, rallydave said:

But it does exist, the Quiet Vox the River Cruise and some turo operators like we had in St Petersburg.  People can't and don't want to carry their expensive smart phones that some don't have and others don't want  to carry or don't know how to operate well.  The river cruise lines have bit the bullet to purchase the systems.  Regent needs to do the same rather than wasting their money buying this wrong product.  In the bit scheme of things with the relatively low number of passengers, it would not be a budget breaker to equip all of the ships with the proven system that works well and provides ALL of the paying customers the ability to hear the tour guide without going thru the rigamarole of the not thought out current disaster.

 

They were obviously sold a pig in a poke and you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.  People paying near $1,000/day/person deserve to be provided what they need to hear the tour guides on their "Free" shore excursions.  And, yes i know they are NOT "Free".

Dave, as good as the Quiet Vox system is, it’s still an RF solution that requires carrying around another piece of equipment, wired earbuds, etc.

 

What I had proposed is a kind of hybrid system that gives people the option of using either the radio receivers or their smartphones.  Properly executed, this type of system would be a ‘best of both worlds’ solution that would give us the choice of using the around-the-neck radios or our phones.  Now THAT would be a luxury solution which I’m sure doesn’t exist at this time.

 

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5 minutes ago, UUNetBill said:

Dave, as good as the Quiet Vox system is, it’s still an RF solution that requires carrying around another piece of equipment, wired earbuds, etc.

 

What I had proposed is a kind of hybrid system that gives people the option of using either the radio receivers or their smartphones.  Properly executed, this type of system would be a ‘best of both worlds’ solution that would give us the choice of using the around-the-neck radios or our phones.  Now THAT would be a luxury solution which I’m sure doesn’t exist at this time.

 

 

Scenic River Cruises has had their “Scenic Tailormade “ devices for a few years that included the typical around-the-neck radio and cheap earbuds. This year they introduced their Tailormade app for smartphones which apparently provides the solution you’re looking for. Reviews so far have been mixed at best but that might be the usual “it’s a new thing so I hate it” response. 

 

We’ll be cruising the Rhine with Scenic next month and I’m looking forward to giving that a try.   I’ve already downloaded the app and it looks good so far although most of its features are not available until we get on the ship. 

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8 minutes ago, UUNetBill said:

Dave, as good as the Quiet Vox system is, it’s still an RF solution that requires carrying around another piece of equipment, wired earbuds, etc.

 

What I had proposed is a kind of hybrid system that gives people the option of using either the radio receivers or their smartphones.  Properly executed, this type of system would be a ‘best of both worlds’ solution that would give us the choice of using the around-the-neck radios or our phones.  Now THAT would be a luxury solution which I’m sure doesn’t exist at this time.

 

bill, you are probably right that a hybrid system would be better in theory.  But,  remember the report that the current transmetter erroneously purchased by Regent is already too heavy so imagine adding another wifi transmitter plus the extra batteries to run both.  Plus the added cost and complexity of this dual system.  Also don't forget the non recurring costs that would have to be spread over an extremely small number of sales.

 

So for the foreseeable future Regent needs to bite the bullet get rid of the pig in a poke and outfit their ships with the latest quiet vox or similar.  Extremely obvious any new system needs to be introduced well and not after boarding with overweight equipment that not ALL customers have or are able to use.

 

Technology is great but, not always the best solution.

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3 hours ago, UUNetBill said:

Dave, I’ll still have to disagree with you on this one.  I’ve seen more problems with the included radio receivers - dead batteries, wrong channel selections, terrible range, etc. - that delay tours or render the systems unusable.  I applaud Regent for trying to leverage newer technology to improve the tours while at the same time chastise them for pushing out a product that apparently isn’t ready for prime time.

 

And I also have to disagree that age is a deterrent to technology.  Our next cruise is with my mom and her husband for his 80th birthday (she’ll be 82) and they both have and use smart phones.  Mom uses her phone to stream music, look up information, text everyone, and she uses AirPods in conjunction with her hearing aids.  No, age doesn’t preclude someone from using new technology - a lack of desire to learn does.

 

In my opinion, of course.   😁

 

Agree with you and also applaud Regent for trying newer technology.  I doubt if anyone on this board knows the latest technology for these units.  Regent is well aware of their demographics and is taking that into consideration.  

 

Also agree that many, many elderly folks are using smart phones (even older than your parents).  Of course, as you noted, there are people of all ages that resist new technology.  

 

I read a couple of weeks ago that Millennials are backing away from some technology.  Some prefer keeping their calendars the old fashioned way and would rather read real books rather than Kindles, etc.  It seems that this generation has new ideas about almost everything.  It will be interesting to learn what effect they will have on the world.  Some Millennials seemed to be off to a poor start (with a reputation of being late to work - taking off whenever they want to, etc. -- I know some companies that would rather hire a senior than a Millennial).  

 

In any case, rather than us complaining about this topic, perhaps someone could be proactive and make solid suggestions - based on research - to Regent (especially those individuals that have gone on excursions and had difficulty the equipment for whatever reason).  In the meantime, if you make a point to be near the Tour Guide, you will likely hear everything (if they are just speaking in their normal voices). 

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