In the old days, high tech and a cruise didn’t go together. Cruises were a throwback to a time past, with formal dining and postcards rather than smartphones and video games.
The cruise industry is enhancing guests’ personal experience with high tech. With these innovations, guests have their choice. They can be as up-to-date as they like, accessing wifi and social media as they sail, or as old-school as they want or a mix. Most crucially, though, the high-tech devices and innovations of daily life outside the cruise ship are now also on board the cruise ship, making life easier and more convenient.
Here are six high-tech innovations now on cruise ships.
In the old days, communication was done by mail packet. At most, cruise directors could point you toward an internet café at every port.
Those days are gone. Cruise lines such as Windstar accommodate the need to access devices, social media platforms, and email as they sail, by providing wifi on its yachts. Passengers can stay in touch as much or as little as they like while aboard.
Brian Kimmons, director of information technology, says:
“Windstar is aggressively building out its IT infrastructure, so it can support the latest in maritime and conventional technology to deliver a fully digital experience from the time of booking until the guest returns home. Low latency, high speed LEO satellite Internet connections, 4k Video-on-Demand, interactive digital menus, and shipboard voice and text communications from passenger smart devices to people in the party they’re traveling with are just a few of the things in the pipeline.”
One of the beauties of onboard wifi is the ability to take pictures and communicate immediately via social media. Passengers can upload the image they snap onboard to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, or their social media platform of choice.
The yachts are all equipped with business centers and computers as well, so passengers always have the option of staying in touch.
Remember, the ability to access a telephone is also high tech. Telephone service on the high seas was once nearly impossible. No longer. Direct phone numbers for the yachts are available in case of emergencies. These numbers are included in the “know before you go” documents, so guests may want to share this information with family and friends who may need to reach them.
Phones are also available in each cabin. Many guests, though, prefer to make calls while in port. Local calling cards can be purchased on shore.
Digital signage and increased experiences
In the past, guests found their way through ships with maps and signs. At night, these were sometimes hard to read. Signs on ships are now bright digital signs. Wayfinding guides are also digital, orienting travelers onboard to where they are and where they want to go. Some of these utilize touch as well as sight for passengers who would prefer to use tactile methods.
With digital innovation driving new technological designs and operations on boards, the passenger’s experience on the ship is also increasing dramatically. For example, Royal Caribbean Cruises recently announced a series of digital innovations that will empower guests further, helping them create memories and experiences.
These innovations include a new app that will banish check-in lines at ports and supply crew members with information to anticipate their guests’ needs, enhance ship management, decrease the amount of time guests are waiting for things such as food and drinks, and many other features that are aimed to make the guest experience hassle-free and personalized.
Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of RCCL says:
“The pace of change is relentless—and so are we. We are harnessing a range of technologies to enhance every facet of our business, every minute of our guests’ holidays, and every inch of the ships we build.”
On land, it’s increasingly common for room service to be delivered by a cute, friendly robot rather than a server. Cruise ships are keeping pace. Many use robot bartenders, who present drinks to passengers packed nicely and conveniently where they can reach it. The robot comes back to take the passenger's bottles and glasses away as well.
Also in the past, passengers either had an ocean view from their cabin or they didn’t. Inside cabin travelers had to go on deck to see the sea. Technology has made that a thing of the past. Many ships now have large high-definition LED screens in cabins that bring the wonders of the outside world inside.
Some show footage of the ocean outside, fed by digital cameras mounted on the ship’s exterior. Others are designed to resemble a porthole view. Some show footage of the ship itself, or informational programs about the next port.
Best of all, travelers decide whether to gaze at the screens or not. There are curtains that can be drawn over them. Some include a virtual railing, to complete the illusion of being on deck as they lounge in the comfort of their cabin.
For passengers who enjoy playing video games or watching movies, they won’t have to entirely reorient their leisure time on shipboard. An increasing number of cruise lines have activity lounges filled with high tech! Videogames, gaming stations, movies on demand, and other activities make lounges a favorite place to hang.
This can be especially convenient if passengers have teenagers or younger children who are gaming aficionados and love favorite films. Many cruise ships design their high-tech lounges with the younger set in mind.
Contemporary travelers like and need to be in touch digitally always. The cruise industry is catching on with many of the developments listed above and making the cruise experience a more high-tech one. There's more to come as initiatives similar to Disney's Magic Band are trialled on board ships and Cruise companies also look at how they can improve the passenger experience through personalization.
This article is by lifestyle blogger Kacey Bradley of the Drifter Collective.
Image via Linval Ebanks