Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) is on the cusp of what it says to be an unprecedented digital transformation, involving innovations such as an app expected to be rolled out to its 48-ship fleet, and VR and AR experiences.
“Our new app will make it simpler than ever to book and plan your cruise vacation from home or with a travel agent. Once on board, you can navigate our ships with interactive maps and guides, explore the ship with cool features like X-ray vision, or order drinks that can be delivered to you wherever you are on the ship,” said Jay Schneider, senior vice president, digital at RCL.
To streamline boarding, manage check-ins automatically and improve wayfinding, the company is combining technologies including facial recognition, RFID tagging, GPS mapping and Bluetooth-enabled beacons. RCL is looking to use facial recognition technology to help accelerate ship boarding and check-in, for example.
The app, along with the next generation of the company’s WOW Bands, will also unlock guest staterooms and enable guests to control stateroom lighting and temperature.
An initial release of the cruise guest app is already available on selected ships in RCL’s fleet. “Our aim is to have the app enabled on about 15 per cent of our fleet by the end of this year, and more than double that by the end of 2018,” said Schneider.
Moreover, the company is planning to deploy VR and AR technology to transform ship spaces into virtual environments and enhance entertainment. Stateroom ceilings might be replaced by starry skies, walls of restaurant can transform to the sights and sounds of an outdoor café, for example.
Beyond the guest experience, RCL will also effect changes to make ships more energy-efficient, enhance ship management and put more connectivity into the hands of crew members.
An example of innovations that will help overall ship management and improve energy efficiency are forthcoming command centres that use AR to assist with navigation and manoeuvring.
In addition, in a safety-related application of the same technologies that will help servers deliver a drink to a guest anywhere on board, next generation bridge technology will allow officers to track guests on their way to muster stations to ensure all are accounted for and locate stragglers.
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.