Royal Caribbean's concept of an interior stateroom with a virtual balcony.
Guests can sleep under a virtual sea in the not too distant future.

In a technologically stunning presentation in New York, Royal Caribbean Cruises unveiled its next generation of digital innovations aimed at making the passenger experience “frictionless”—giving back to the passenger time wasted in lines, in waiting for bags to arrive, in ordering food and booking events and experiences. The program is due to roll out across the fleet by early 2018.

It’s a broad and bold program that promises, at the very least, to “give the passenger back the first day of their vacation.” 

That tedious check-in line will be replaced by a photograph taken of each passenger as they step onboard, which will empower facial recognition technology to track each passenger and identify them instantly at many points, starting with check-in. The progress of your bag can be followed on your smartphone from terminal right through to in-cabin delivery. No impatience required, no wondering about where those pesky bags are and when will they get to the room.

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Instead of inventing a lot of new technology, Royal Caribbean is utilizing wearable devices and software already available on the market, in innovative ways. For example, a new generation of WOW electronic bracelets will provide the ability to charge meals and purchases with the wave of a hand and to open cabin doors effortlessly.  No keys required at any point.

New apps will empower passengers to plan their schedule on their smartphone — or a phone provided by the ship – to book meals and classes, and to follow the unfolding schedule of a day. 

Onboard the ship, a dazzling display system, Roboscreens, presents a new generation in video entertainment, with six screens, each controlled on a robotic arm, joining forces and separating in sync with music and images. These remarkable roboscreens, which debuted in the Two70 Degrees space on the very first of the Quantum class ships, Quantum of the Seas, will soon be found on all Quantum class ships. 

In unseen technology, deep down under the ship, a new system generates large streams of tiny bubbles, running under the hull, resulting in reduced friction and greater buoyancy, with an estimated fuel savings of 7%-8%. This translates to saving an average 5,600-6,400 gallons per day, a major boost for environmentalists and budget watchers in cruise operations.

When the Ocean Medallion wearable was introduced by Carnival Corporation PLC in January 2017, it marked the beginning of travel industry efforts to harness the power of the Internet of Things (IoT). CEO Donald Arnold told the industry that just by wearing a personalized device, his guests could use Near Field and Bluetooth Low Energy Communications to interact with sensors on board. Ocean Medallion is rolling out on Princess Cruise Lines, enabling the company to streamline guest management, personalize vacation moments, and allow guests to interact with games and entertainment onboard.

It’s heating up for everyone in the cruise industry, so innovations are constantly rolling out… and not all of them of the digital sort. The MSC Seaside has just introduced the longest zipline at sea, at 345 feet long, which soars 20 stories above sea level and your cruisemates sunbathing on deck. When Norwegian Cruise Line’s Encore sails as the fourth and last ship in the brilliant Breakaway class, she’s bound to kick off 2019 with lot of high tech surprises. Even at Royal Caribbean, the popular Mariner of the Seas is being fitted with Skypad, a new bungee trampoline that can be used straight (up) or with a VR headset for an intergalactic spin. Wow.

So that pushes the excitement back to Royal Caribbean. We’re excited too, because it signifies a broader adoption of new technologies to enhance passengers’ vacations at sea.

We’re all for that.

 

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