High Technology Innovation on the High Seas
Wireless mobility technology and digital media technology, combined with the delivery of professional and technical services, provide the foundation for unparalleled guest experiences on the Oasis of the Seas.
June 1, 2010
By Jenny Carless
The world's largest cruise ship set sail recently, taking guests traveling on a sea of innovation both in terms of overall on-board experience and the technology innovation behind the vessel's many new state-of-the-art guest amenities.
Royal Caribbean International's Oasis of the Seas has 16 decks and features unparalleled guest experiences. The foundation upon which all amenities and services are designed and delivered is a suite of wireless mobility and digital media technologies that help guests spend less time on entertainment logistics and more time on entertainment.
Delivered through Cisco technical and professional services, the ship's next-generation infrastructure even allows passengers to schedule spa services directly from their rooms or locate their children using an iPhone based application without leaving their lounge chairs.
Wireless Mobility, Digital Media Benefit Passengers
The genesis of this record-setting vessel, which sails from its home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was simple: giving cruise passengers what they want.
"Guests told us they desired even more activity, entertainment and dining options," says Bill Martin, vice president and chief information officer for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "On Oasis we have delivered on all three and made it seamless for the guest by leveraging technology for help."
"Basing a ship's systems completely on wireless technology is not only a good investment from the operational side of things, but it enhances the customer experience greatly."
Oasis delivers many firsts from its size and weight (225,000 gross tons) to innovative guest services that range from wireless point of sale devices to interactive touch-screen digital signage. Another first the foundation of wireless mobility technology and digital media technology that supports many of the new amenities is less obvious but just as impressive.
"We have leveraged technology to simplify things, to ensure that our guests' experiences are that much better," Martin says.
"The company recognized that, if it was going to build the biggest ship in the world, it had to build systems that allow everything to function smoothly and avoid long lines so it invested a lot in what are considered people-flow technologies," explains Johanna Jainchill, cruise editor at Travel Weekly. "This goes for restaurants, shows and any other entertainment."
One example is the "Way Finder," a 32-inch (81-centimeter) touch-screen monitor on each deck next to the ship's two main elevator banks. In addition to providing detailed directions between any locations a guest chooses, it is linked to a shape-recognition system in all of the ship's 24 restaurants that keeps track of how many people enter and leave, providing an up-to-the-minute report on seating availability.
Technology Innovation Redefines Guest Experiences
"Basing a ship's systems completely on wireless technology is not only a good investment from the operational side of things, but it enhances the customer experience greatly," notes Norman L. Rose, president of Travel Tech Consulting.
The architectural foundation for the guest services on Oasis is a Cisco Unified Wireless Mobile Network. The next-generation mobile network has been designed so that Royal Caribbean can integrate new technologies into the core infrastructure and enhance the network's performance, availability and security on an ongoing basis.
"We have introduced a wide array of wireless applications everything from the crew's WiFi phones to point-of-sale devices," Martin explains. "As a result, we needed our wireless mobile network to be extraordinarily robust."
Royal Caribbean engaged with Cisco Services to design and implement an extensive network. Cisco Services provided a combination of consultative, strategy and technology services.
"We started with a clean sheet of paper," explains George O'Meara, senior vice president, Cisco Services. "The services component was the glue for all the ideas from Royal Caribbean and our other partners (including Cisco Gold Certified Partners Insight and Cygate Finland). We galvanized it all into a plan that ultimately became the Oasis customer experience."
The goal was to get as close to a maintenance-free environment as possible.
"It's not easy to get someone out to fix a network problem when you're in the middle of the Caribbean," Martin points out. "The bottom line is our network must be able to work for a long time with no interruption and very little help from the folks on shore."
Technology Innovation Is a Competitive Advantage
The trend toward leveraging technology in the cruise industry is clear.
"There is great awareness of the need to be connected, of the trend toward mobility," Rose says.
Changes are happening rapidly. Just a few years ago, guests couldn't use their cell phones on a cruise ship; but today, they can do that and much more from checking email to enjoying WiFi capability in many cabins on newer ships.
"The latest technology is a draw to many cruise-goers, especially those who are traveling with multiple generations," Jainchill explains.
Oasis, with behind-the-scenes innovation supporting many of the new amenities that are so appealing to today's cruise guests, is in a strong position to navigate the competitive waters as technology continues to be an advantage in this industry.
Jenny Carless is a freelance writer located in Santa Cruz, CA.
Most Recent NewsSenior Executives Say Cloud-Based Collaboration Leads to Higher Business Performance
Today, 05:00 AM
Manufacturing Snapshot: Does Social Media Matter?
By Kerry Doyle 5/19/2013
The Network Week in Review and Look Ahead: May 13-17