I agree and applaud Regent's attempt to find a solution for hearing the guides on tours. I also agree that unless all participants on the tour can take advantage of the audio portion, this solution will not work. People mention being close to the guide to listen if you do not have a smartphone or are having issues connecting. The problem with this is when guides have an audio solution, they no longer talk in a loud voice, they speak in a conversational tone. Asking the guide to speak loudly and use the audio solution means those listening over their smartphones will be hearing yelling the whole time. Often tours are traversing through narrow spaces, are indoors, etc. and the group needs to spread-out, having the audio continue in my ear is what I expect. There is no way a person could always be beside the guide. I personally love the freedom an audio device brings to a tour - I no longer have to stare at the guide to hear what's being said - I can look around, linger for a moment, take photos, etc. and still benefit from the guide's information. One other issue that hasn't been brought up in this discussion is the need to be in airplane mode. Is this really a requirement or just an easy way to find the wireless network? When I travel I use my phone, - texting, email, etc. I still need to be available. Being in airplane mode means I'll be out of touch for the duration of the tour.
There is no easy answer, but I would think that with the buying power of Norwegian Cruise Line Holding, LTD, purchasing units for all guests or requiring the companies they do business with to provide units, should be the focus.