Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2021

4 8 Royal Caribbean International's new Odyssey of the Seas will begin offering the line's first-ever cruises from Israel in May 2021 Bayley, explaining that Royal Caribbean International does this with a number of technologies, including the Tracelet (a mandatory wearable bracelet) that can identify if another Tracelet has been within six feet for 15 minutes or longer. “That is quite a remarkable step forward. I would say that our contact tracing technology has really developed quite rapidly. It is very sophisticated.” Technology has also been crucial in helping Royal Caribbean Group to break new ground with its Muster 2.0 system. Following embarkation, passengers can now log on to the app and take themselves through the mustering process. This involves reviewing information and watching videos, such as how to put on a life vest. Once those steps are complete, the guest must locate their muster station with the help of the app, and check in with a crew member, who will then confirm they have completed each step. First deployed by sister brand TUI Cruises, Muster 2.0 will be rolled out across Royal Caribbean International’s vessels and the entire Royal Caribbean Group fleet. The open-source technology is also available to other cruise lines and other industries today. “Ironically, we were developing this [prior to the pandemic] to make it easier and more convenient for the guests but it turns out it is a massive game changer for Covid-19,” says Bayley. “Guests no longer have to gather in large groups to go through the muster process, which minimises physical interactions. The retention from the guests on Muster 2.0 versus the old approach is also significantly higher because they pay more attention.” Developing technology has also added benefits in terms of communication. “Given the global nature of the business, these underlying technology developments have really helped.” For example, the company’s ability to support its crew members through the RCL Cares programme has opened up funding for crew who need help with medical and/or housing bills and issues. “All of that became globally available through technology,” says Bayley. “It allowed crew to apply for funding and enabled us to send the money flawlessly without any hindrance or issue.” Bayley also highlights the importance of the relationships and the trust the company has developed over the years with communities and governments worldwide, as well as with its guests and employees. “This has really helped and proven to be very valuable during this time. When you suddenly have to pause projects worldwide, the fact that we have a good reputation, a history of doing the right thing and keeping to our word has really helped us through this.” Although he acknowledges the devastation caused to the cruise industry and so many others by the pandemic, Bayley is now optimistic about the future. “The end of 2020 was the end of a dark period and in 2021 we are now going into what we hope will be the dawn of recovery,” he explains. “I think it will happen really quickly and it will take a lot of us by surprise. By the time we get to the spring, which is symbolically a period of renewal, there will be more vaccines and less fatalities. I think there will be a push to get back to normal.” For now, Quantum of the Seas continues to operate safely out of Singapore and Royal Caribbean International awaits the green light for Spectrum of the Seas to being sailing out of China: “We are optimistic it could be operating in the spring.” CFR INTERV IEW