Google Street View goes 'off-roading'

Google Street View, the service that has been both praised and pilloried for allowing virtual visits to virtually any street in North America and most around the world, has gone ‘off-roading’ in ways that travelers could find beneficial.

Emirates A380 in flight
Photo courtesy Emirates Airline
In partnership with travel providers, Google has taken its street view cameras aboard an Emirates A380 airliner  – the largest passenger jet in operation – and aboard Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship Allure of the Seas.

The two views took different approaches. The airliner was empty when the cameras snapped away, capturing images of the plane itself, while the cruise ship was underway with a full complement of passengers during the photo shoot.

Each approach has its value.

As an avid flier, I want to see the plane and assess what it has to offer. I’ll see plenty of my fellow passengers when and if I actually get to ride the plane. Further, showing a full plane would have made the people the focus, not the aircraft.

Allure of the Seas
Photo courtesy Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean chose a different course.

“This is the closest they can get to actually being on board,” Jo Briody, director of marketing and public relations for Royal Caribbean International said in a statement announcing what it called “the world's first, exclusive ‘access all areas’ tour” via Google Street View.

“We are confident that once people get virtually immersed in Allure of the Seas’ various decks and features thanks to Google Street View technology, they’ll be eager to experience the real thing,” Briody continued.

For me, it did exactly the opposite.

I prefer cruises that are more upmarket, refined, intimate, and relaxed than the cruises tailored to "adventurous vacationers" that Royal Caribbean offers, so showing me a ship crowded with people engaged in frenetic activities was an absolute turn-off. For others, it could be a glimpse of their perfect vacation.

In the end, it’s an additional tool in your travel toolkit. Whether a glimpse via Google Street View confirms that you’ve made the right choice or gives you an indication that you need to keep looking, more information is a good thing.

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