Royal Caribbean has announced a series of major high-tech innovations that show just how hard cruise lines are working with technology to revolutionise their passenger’s experience.
The line is rolling out a range of innovations which, it says, are “charting a course for a world where travel frustrations have disappeared, erased by technology that is transforming cruise ships from stem to stern.”
Royal Caribbean’s 48-ship fleet will be covered by an app over the next two years which, according to the line, will “banish check-in lines at ports, equip crew members to anticipate guests’ needs, and enable giant cruise ships to sail through the water on a fuel-saving curtain of air.”
Among the announced changes:
- Facial recognition meaning passengers can board ships in the time it takes to order fries from the drive-through, skipping check-in lines
- Use their smart phones to sign up for shore excursions, order drinks and make dinner reservations without ever leaving their chairs by the pool thanks to an intuitive app
- Indulge in VR and AR experiences that transform ship spaces into virtual environments and interactive games, where stateroom ceilings might be replaced by starry skies, the walls of a restaurant can transform into the sights and sounds of an outdoor café and digital signs challenge you to play an arcade game.
“The pace of change is relentless—and so are we,” said Richard D. Fain, RCL’s chairman and CEO. “We are harnessing a range of technologies to enhance every facet of our business, every minute of our guests’ vacations, and every inch of the ships we build.”
“Consumers are buying experiences now, not things,” Mr Fain told a launch of Sea Beyond. “So we are creating ways for them to design vacations rich in made-to-order, memory-making moments, and even providing recommendations based on what they have enjoyed before or shared with us about their preferences.”
RCL’s invitation-only Sea Beyond event – held at the site of a historic shipbuilding facility in the Brooklyn Navy Yard – offers 37,000 square feet of hands-on examples of how digital technology is driving change across the company’s fleet, whose brands include industry leaders Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises.
One specific focus is removing time-stealing moments from the cruise experience.
“Time spent in line—whether you’re waiting for your food, waiting for your bags to arrive, waiting on a table, or booking an excursion—is time stolen from your time off,” an RCL spokesperson said.
Everything from facial recognition to RFID tagging to GPS mapping to Bluetooth-enabled beacons to streamline boarding, manage check-ins automatically and improve wayfinding. Is being used.
Once on board, a passenger will be able to navigate with interactive maps and guides, explore the ship with cool features like x-ray vision, or order drinks that can be delivered wherever you are on the ship.
The app will also unlock guest staterooms and enable guests to control stateroom lighting and temperature.
The line expects the new app to be enabled on about 15 per cent of its fleet by the end of this year, and more than double that by the end of 2018.
Sea Beyond even has a “concept car” phase, where ideas are workshopped like a stateroom where you not only control the lighting and the temperature, but can change the scene from starry night to rainforest canopy or island home with the touch of a button.
Royal Caribbean crews will also be equipped with mobile applications that help crew members check-in guests, complete required paperwork, track delivery of guests’ bags to their staterooms, and interact with guests and anticipate their needs.
RCL is also innovating to reduce fuel consumption across its fleet, which not only lowers operating costs but also lightens stack emissions that are part of cruising’s environmental footprint.
“Every year, millions of guests are entrusting us with something very precious: their vacation time,” said Mr Fain. “To merit that trust, we work to surpass guests’ expectations at every opportunity, from planning their trips to boarding our ships, whether on sea days or shore excursions, and in every dining, recreation and entertainment venue. Sea Beyond is a preview of how we are bringing those aspirations to life in a stem-to-stern transformation of our entire company while creating a new world on the water.”