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This is how Royal Caribbean reinvents cruising with new technologies

Maria Sergeeva
November 13, 2017

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. -- the parent company of Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club presented its innovative program it plans to bring to its fleet of more than three dozen cruise ships in the coming years during Wednesday's "Sea Beyond" event in New York City.

The company’s project seems to be completely futuristic, allowing cruises to get drinks delivered to your current or next stop on the ship, bypassing check-in lines with facial recognition technology, allowing passengers to sleep at starry nights in their staterooms.

"The pace of change is relentless -- and so are we," said Richard D. Fain, RCCL'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."

“’Frictionless’ is the norm, and that means fast, simple, on-demand, and fully-integrated,” Fain said of the technology.

The innovations penetrate every feature of the company's business, from customer experience and service to environmental practices.

"Consumers are buying experiences now, not things," Fain said, "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."

Many features are designed as time savers. As people come to recover energy, they won’t any more loose time and nerves standing in line.

The services provided by various technologies from facial recognition and RFID tagging to GPS mapping and Bluetooth-enabled beacons hidden in plain sight, enable customers to skip the check-in line on embarkation day, sign up for shore excursions, make dinner reservations and order drinks via smartphone directly to the pool.

"Time spent in line -- whether you're waiting for food, waiting or your bags to arrive, waiting on a table, or booking an excursion -- is time stolen from your time off," said Jay Schneider, RCCL's senior vice president, digital.

 Enhanced Reality

Most exciting to cruisers will be the new app, allowing them to interact with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences that transform ship spaces into virtual environments and active games.

Cabin ceilings will display starry skies, as well as the walls of the restaurants transformed into the sights and sounds of an outdoor cafe. Digital signs, invisible without gadgets, will be transformed into an arcade game. Finally, the app's x-ray vision will let people see behind closed doors.

Faced with the claim that AI and robots are poised to replace most of today’s workforce, the company proposes a virtual concierge that can answer questions, passenger-to-passenger chatting and the ability to stream content to the TV will be accessible within several clicks. Fain emphasized the desire to be constantly connected: "These aren't wants. These are expectations. These are demands."

The developers didn’t forget about the crew. The applications also will make it easier for crewmembers to manage their schedules and stay connected to friends and family while onboard.

"We regularly earn industry-leading guest satisfaction ratings -- which is first and foremost a tribute to the outstanding work our crews do every day," said Fain. 

"To continue to improve, we will put more capability to delight and surprise our guests into our crews' hands even as we help them better manage the special challenges of being away from their homes and families while on board."