While hosting a seven-day intergovernmental conference for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) onboard the Caribbean Princess in Port of Spain, Trinidad, last November, Princess Cruises had a problem. Land- based cellular phone signals would only penetrate a short distance into the vessel’s hull.

Thus Princess asked its onboard cellular network operator, Maritime Communications Partner (MCP) to come up with a solution. MCP  directed its technical staff to work with Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) to set up a new temporary base transceiver station (BTS) onboard. Connected directly into MCP’s communication rack, the BTS accessed the ship’s antenna system granting passengers full cellular communication throughout the entire vessel.

“This “first-of-it’s kind” attempt to provide shore based cellular coverage deep inside a cruise ship was a huge success. TSTT utilized MCP’s distributed antenna system (DAS) onboard the Caribbean Princess and passengers used their calling devices just like at home,” said MCP’s President & CEO Pål Bjordal, who also praised Princess’ dedication to passenger satisfaction and pointed to the fact that close cooperation between the cruise line employees and competent wireless operators enabled a quick and creative solution.

Said Anthony Kaufman, senior vice president of commercial affairs: “Optimal cellular service was imperative for a select group of government officials. Without a complete, high-quality wireless solution, guests and passengers would quickly feel very remote and out of touch,”

According to Bjordal, Princess is the first company to successfully launch this type of temporary enhanced-coverage system. ”This is just one example of the unique problem resolution capabilities that MCP can offer our partners.  We are fortunate to have an extremely competent staff with a very broad range of both maritime and technical wireless expertise,” he said.

TSTT’s chief technology officer, George Hill, wanted to ensure seamless service delivery to passengers onboard.  “TSTT was focused on delivering best-in-class telecommunications services to delegates and other travelers for this milestone event and embraced the opportunity to work with MCP to make this happen,” Hill said.

“This type of cooperation again cements our vision to partner with our cruise clients by providing tailor-made solutions when called upon,” added  Bjordal.

 Technically responsible for the project was Brett Stortroen, the MCP project manager. ”The main focus was to provide the best cellular service available to the passengers during the conference, without requiring any significant re-wiring or other modifications onboard. This solution worked perfectly,” he said.