Cruises with a High-Tech Twist
June 1, 2010
By Jenny Carless
Wireless mobility and digital media technologies are at the heart of many new and enhanced guest experiences on Royal Caribbean International's newest and largest ship, the Oasis of the Seas. For example:
Wireless Mobility Technology
- More than 1,100 Cisco wireless access points provide pervasive coverage.
- All Oasis wait staff use wireless point-of-sale devices, so guests can avoid long lines and quickly purchase anything from anywhere on the ship. (For example, when a pool-side guest orders a beverage, the order goes straight from the waiter's device to the bar, so the drink will be ready by the time the waiter arrives at the bar.)
- More than 1,000 crew members carry Cisco Unified Wireless IP Phones to speed the delivery of guest amenities and services. (Guests can call their room steward directly, for example, rather than going through a receptionist and/or leaving messages.)
- Guests can rent wireless phones to call or text other guests, view daily events and monitor the exact location of their children (if the children wear available location-tracking devices).
Digital Media Technology
- More than 400 interactive touch-screen Cisco digital signs throughout the ship allow guests to view dining menus, restaurant availability, show times and videos about ship-board services.
- asis hosts a closed-circuit television station, and every guest stateroom has Internet Protocol television (IPTV) that delivers exceptionally high-quality sound and images, even during severe weather conditions.
Another way to see how the advanced mobile network improves guests' experiences is to understand how some typical cruise experiences have been transformed.
Oasis guests can book shows, shore excursions, specialty restaurants, spa visits and much more in advance, at the box office on board, or from the interactive TV in their staterooms (where they can view and update their personal calendars).
By booking ahead, guests are able to begin their vacations the minute they walk up the gangway.And Oasis staff rest easy knowing that 3,000 guests won't all show up for the same performance or at the same dining venue.
It is a long-standing tradition that roaming photographers capture images of guests throughout a cruise. Guests then typically congregate around giant "photo walls" looking for images to purchase.
Oasis offers a more convenient alternative. First, it takes a high-resolution image of all guests as they check in. Those images go into a database that is accessed via the wireless network by all systems on board, including a specialized photo recognition technology that is accurate enough to identify 90 percent or more of the people in the photographs.
Now guests have several easy options to find and purchase photos. In the photo room, they can swipe their room card at a kiosk and either be directed to a cubby hole with a personally designed booklet of their photos or view photos right there at the kiosk. They can also peruse the images from their interactive stateroom TV.
"Guests may be more willing to buy photos if it's that much easier to find and purchase your images," says Johanna Jainchill, cruise editor at Travel Weekly.
Jenny Carless is a freelance writer located in Santa Cruz, CA.