The future of cruise ships is already here. Technology has advanced to a great extent and is being incorporated by companies at a quicker pace than ever, solely to enhance the guest experience.
Everything a cruise ship company does is aimed at setting itself apart and creating a brand identity – something to differentiate itself from all the other players out there. Cruise ships are combining a powerful mix of technology, service and marketing to create not just memorable holidays, but experiences.
As they move forward in time, companies are building on the data and trends of today to surge forward and build ships of the future. Today, iPads are increasingly common in hotels where guests can adjust temperature and mood lighting, book a restaurant reservation or wake up call, or even print travel tickets.
For hospitality staff such as cleaning crew, electronic sensors inform them of heat signatures in the room so they are aware if a guest is in. Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas began as a project in February 2011, and is considered one of the most technologically advanced cruise ships sailing at the moment. Even for today’s standards, much of its offerings are certainly advanced.
The aim of the company – as with many other companies now – is to build a cruise ship that caters to people who want to be perpetually connected to the world. This means futuristic technology and high-speed internet, the latter being one of the biggest shortcomings on cruise ships thus far.
It gives guests the opportunity to plan their day in advance or change their minds on a whim, get a seat in a restaurant without a reservation, and still be connected to the world they left behind. Guests on Quantum of the Seas are able to video chat and perhaps even live stream their activities thanks to an innovative system that tracks the closest satellite overhead and hops to the next one every hour to offer almost 600MB of internet capacity.
This means more guests can get online at the same time for a cheaper rate, and Royal Caribbean can charge the same internet rates that are applicable to land-based hotels. The aim is to draw as new customers the millennial generation that is perpetually connected so they can share images, videos and posts on the go while enjoying their vacation.
To enhance the guest experience, the ship goes so far as to use high-definition TVs positioned vertically along the cabin wall displaying the ocean going by to offer the illusion of a balcony to every room. Guests can even sky-dive in a wind tunnel out on deck and visit the Bionic Bar where robotic arms designed by MIT mix cocktails for guests pre-ordered on a tablet system that informs them how long they have to wait for the drink to be made.
But Royal Caribbean isn’t the only one on board the technology express. Costa Cruises has started a 4GoodFood project that is looking at reducing on board food waste by 50 per cent by 2020. The project is hoping to engage cruise ship crew as well as guests by sustainably improving preparation without losing quality and encouraging Taste Don’t Waste at buffets.
In the cruise ship kitchens, it focused on seasonal and local produce, used kitchen scales and records to assess food wastage during preparation, and trained galley staff in reducing waste.
Soon, cruise ship guests will be able to tailor their rooms to their requirements before even arriving – set temperature and lighting, alarms, brew coffee while they are taking a shower. Or perhaps your smart home will relay your preferences directly to your hotel or cruise ship to adjust the settings according to its collected data. The sky’s the limit!
The Internet of Things allows for truly personalised services, and the hospitality and cruise ship industry are not far behind in realising its potential and working towards implementation.