Guests will be able to use a mobile app to order drinks and more (Image: Diane Bondareff/ Invision for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd./AP Images)
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) is to roll out multiple digital innovations to help transform operations, empower crews, improve the guest experience and enhance energy efficiency across its brands by the end of 2019.
By combining technologies ranging from facial recognition to RFID tagging to GPS mapping to Bluetooth-enabled beacons, RCL will streamline boarding, manage check-ins automatically and improve wayfinding. Guests will benefit from a smartphone app that will allow them to order drinks and make dinner reservations from anywhere on the ship. The app, along with the next generation of the company’s WOW Bands, will also unlock staterooms and enable guests to control stateroom lighting and temperature.
“We are finding ways to eliminate friction and frustration, giving guests more time to make the memories that make vacations special,” said Jay Schneider, senior vice president of digital at RCL. “Our new app will make it simpler than ever to book and plan your cruise vacation from home or with a travel agent. Once onboard, 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.”
The first version of the app has already been introduced on Royal Caribbean International’s Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas. It will be refined with new ship-specific features as it is rolled out to other vessels in the Royal Caribbean International, Azamara Club Cruises and Celebrity Cruises fleets.
“Our aim is to have the app enabled on about 15% of our fleet by the end of this year, and more than double that by the end of 2018,” said Schneider.
Crew members will be able to use a similar mobile app to check guests in, complete required paperwork, track delivery of guests’ bags to their staterooms, and anticipate their needs throughout the cruise. A safety application will allow officers to track guests on their way to muster stations to ensure they are all accounted for in an onboard emergency.
RCL has also developed technologies to enhance overall ship management and make its vessels more energy efficient. For example, the company will open new command centres that use augmented reality to assist with navigation and manoeuvring. On the operation side, it is pioneering the use of an air lubrication system that coats the hulls of its ships with millions of microscopic air bubbles to reduce resistance and drag. The technology has already been shown to reduce fuel consumption at speed by 7-8%.
Ahead of the launch of its new LNG-powered Icon class ships, RCL will also trial fuel cell technology on its existing ships with the help of ABB Marine. The company aims to use fuel cells extensively on the Icon newbuilds.
“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,” said Richard Fain, RCL’s chairman and CEO.