Technology has become a part of nearly every facet of our lives and vacationing is no exception. Everywhere we go, we post photos, look up directions, read restaurant reviews and count on apps to make things easy for us. The cruising industry recognizes this cosmic culture shift and has pulled no punches when it comes to decking out their ships with incredible electronics.
Walk around the high-tech playgrounds that are today’s cruise ships and you will see giant video screens at almost every turn. Take your phone out of your pocket or flash your wristband at a transponder and anything you want or need is at your fingertips.
“Everything we are doing today is aimed at making the guest experience more convenient,” said Mike Artz, strategic account manager for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.
From facial recognition software that makes check-in a breeze to robotic bartenders mixing up cocktails on a ship five times the size of the Titanic, Royal Caribbean, in particular, knows how to leave a lasting impression with mesmerizing high-tech on the high seas. Here’s a look at some of the latest technological innovations from one of the world’s largest cruise providers.
Millennials check their phones an average of 74 times per day, so it’s no surprise that cruise lines as a whole are taking their mobile apps to the next level. Royal Caribbean recently announced a slew of innovations that included the launch of a new app that will be rolled out for use on every ship in its fleet over the next two years.
Passengers can use the Royal Caribbean app to book shore excursions, browse restaurant menus, access deck plans, track luggage and indulge in virtual reality and augmented reality experiences and games. The app has a chat feature, which lets guests stay in touch with family and friends, and the app can be used to learn about the hundreds of activities and shows happening on the ship at any given time. You can even order a drink from the bar and a staff member will deliver it to your precise location.
No Bad Rooms
Royal Caribbean is leading another high-tech charge in the cruising world with the addition of virtual balconies in interior cabins. These 80-inch floor-to-ceiling high-definition screens stream audio and video from outside the ship, giving inside rooms the look and feel of having a balcony.
At a recent event in New York City, Royal Caribbean said it is exploring adding similar futuristic innovations to interior staterooms, including ceiling screens that display starry night skies and sunrises and lighting that changes with the time of day.
A cruise is supposed to be fun and with the addition of virtual reality they are more fun than many of us could have ever imagined. For instance, did you ever think you would walk on the moon? A new feature from Royal Caribbean is letting passengers do just that.
The 3,114-passenger Mariner of the Seas recently underwent a $90 million refresh and one its most interesting new features is a virtual reality bungee jump and trampoline attraction called the Sky Pad. Riders who throw on a pair of virtual reality goggles can pretend to bounce around in space and on moon craters – how cool!
Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas also feature a glow-in-the-dark laser tag game called “Battle for Planet Z.” It’s an interactive funhouse in what resembles a futuristic galaxy far away – you know, kind of like a cruise ship!
Passengers on Royal’s Anthem of the Seas can also experience the technological marvel called the North Star. This glass-enclosed pod attached to a long mechanical arm lifts passengers 300 feet above sea level for thrills and an unbeatable view – and, yes, it does get Wi-Fi.
Smartwatches and fitness trackers are all the rage these days and cruise lines have gotten in on the action. Royal Caribbean was one of the first cruise lines to introduce a wristband – the Wow Band – that could be used as a room key and wallet.
Plans are in the works to update the Wow Band with many of the same features of the new app. Giving passengers this option will let them leave their phones in their room or car (if they think their Instagram followers could live without their selfies for a couple of hours!).
For many Americans, it’s hard to check out of work completely, even on vacation. Fortunately, the days of airplane-speed internet on cruise ships are long gone.
“We know there are many people who go away but can’t step away from work completely,” Artz said. “Royal Caribbean’s internet speed gives passengers the option to do business when they have to, so they can enjoy the rest of their vacation when their work is complete.”
Royal’s high-speed internet package VOOM gives passengers the ability to access land-quality internet and there is even a streaming package in case you want to bang out a couple of Netflix episodes in between trips to the pool.
Other than robot bartenders that shake up 1,000 cocktails per day in the Bionic Bar, facial recognition is perhaps the most sophisticated technology hitting Royal Caribbean cruise ships. These face scanners, which are still in development, will be used to streamline the check-in process and boarding at the ports.
Before a passenger embarks on a trip, he or she will snap a selfie and upload it to the new Royal Caribbean app. This photo will be added to his or her digital boarding pass.
When the passenger arrives to board the ship, they will walk through a facial recognition scanner similar to a metal detector. As the passenger passes through the scanner, his or her name will be added to the passenger list that will be displayed on a nearby screen.
This feature will help eliminate inconveniences associated with boarding and wait times. It could debut as soon as November at Royal’s new pier in Miami.
Royal Caribbean is not merely drifting into the digital travel renaissance at a sailboat’s pace – it’s barreling full-steam ahead into an era of ultra-convenience and luxury.
Have you been on a Royal Caribbean cruise recently? Tell us about your favorite features in the comments section and click here to learn about some of the cruise line’s most exciting new offerings.