Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD CEO Richard Fain announced yesterday some of the new technology that will be released on the Quantum of the Seas when she sets sail this November.
Accompanied by technology expert David Pogue, Fain ‘s announcement about technology aboard the ship included some nice new additions to cruising, while some of the new “innovations” have some cruisers scratching their heads.
Technology that is Sure to WOW on Quantum of the Seas
From Car to Ship in 10 Minutes
One of the best new features described in the press conference was Royal Caribbean’s new SMART Check-in, which allows cruisers to complete ALL of their pre-boarding paperwork and documentation online prior to boarding the ship!
Future cruisers can even load their own boarding photo “selfie” from the comfort of their living rooms!
The new technology is said to enable passengers to go from cruise terminal curbside to the onboard ship in 10 minutes. No more long embarkation lines or hassles getting your documentation in order and signing contracts. All of the necessary documentation can now be taken care of in the convenience of your own home prior to leaving for the pier.
The Death of the SeaPass Card
In a move that puts RCI technology on par with major amusement parks, including Walt Disney World, Quantum of the Seas will usher in wearable technology with the debut of WOWband wristbands.
No more SeaPass cards that can be easily lost, damaged, or stolen. The WOWbands will function as an individual’s cruise ship ID. The small wristbands can be used to make shipboard purchases, used to help passengers navigate the ship, and serves as your room key, among other things.
While the technology is encouraging, it already has the Princess wondering about tan lines? And some cruisers are questioning whether the wristbands can be removed when in port for safety reasons.
Smart Phone Apps to Enhance Your Cruise Experience
With the inaugural sailing of Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean will be releasing two new apps that will turn your smart phone into your own personal travel agent.
We suspect that these apps will soon become available in ships fleet wide.
The first app, Cruise Planner, will be an extension of the current online system RCI uses to let passengers book experiences prior to sailing. With the new app, cruisers can use their smart phone to book shore excursions, reserve dining at specialty restaurants, schedule spa appointments, and more once you are onboard. Using the app, cruisers can adjust their plans mid travel and make changes to their current onboard activities on a whim.
The second new app, RoyalIQ, will provide cruisers with up-to-the-minute updates and current wait times at popular attractions like the North Star aerial gondola, or the bumper cars in the SeaPlex, as well as restaurants.
While some RCI ship have kiosks throughout the ship displaying this information, now on Quantum of the Seas, everyone’s smart phone can become a Cruise Compass, the daily activity guide found onboard all Royal Caribbean ships. Now you can always have access to the most complete calendar of the different shows, shopping events, demonstrations, trivia, and other cruise activities occurring throughout the ship right in the palm of your hand.
High Speed Internet to Rival Broadband
An other noteworthy technology upgrade comes in the way of high speed internet. According to Fain, the speed of the Wi-Fi on Quantum of the Seas will be faster than the internet speeds of all current cruise ships COMBINED.
This superfast Wi-Fi, which will be additional, will allow users to have true broadband like connections. Fast enough internet speeds, according the Royal Caribbean LTD CEO, to allow users to be streaming video while sailing. The speeds will also allow for cruisers to use the first Xbox Live suite at sea to play video games with players worldwide.
This upgrade in internet connectivity will also allow for improved communication onboard the ship for both families sailing on Quantum of the Seas as well as the crew.
While the details were a bit light, Fain did say that the internet signals, when combined with the RoyalIQ app, will give families the ability to connect with one another while onboard and also use their devices to connect with family and friends on land.
Pricing and more information will be released by the company in the coming months.
While many of the new improvements to Quantum of the Seas signals that the cruise industry is seeking to attract younger, more tech savvy travelers, some of yesterday’s announcement did not seem to resonant very well with current cruisers.
A Bar Where No One Knows Your Name
One new addition to the ship is something called the Bionic Bar.
Using new robotic technology, this venue will have no human bartenders. Instead patrons at this establishment will order their drinks from tablet computers and then “watch” as robots mix their cocktails. Fain indicated that this first iteration of the Bionic Bar will have a limited drink menu as the company tests this new technology on Quantum of the Seas.
Besides having a small drink list, cruisers are questioning why the cruise line would move to get rid of bar and wait staff?
Engaging with the staff, that provides superior service, is one of the hallmarks of a cruise vacation. During a cruise, travelers often times choose certain bars and lounge venues based on their experience with the friendly and talkative HUMAN bartenders. Several online forums suggested that to eliminate the human element in a lounge and call it an innovation was misguided.
Also, some avid cruisers have been (jokingly we presume) questioning whether the drinks served by these robotic arms still requires a 15% gratuity?
A Sea of Tablets
In another move that seems more like a publicity stunt, than an improvement to travelers’ cruise experience, Royal Caribbean also announced that all ship board personnel on Quantum of the Seas would be given a Windows Tablet computer.
The program is said to expand to crew on all RCI ships with a total of 40,000 tablets being dispersed throughout the company.
Said to be a way for cruise staff to get real time feedback on customer’s preference , having everyone on a ship carrying a tablet does not seem practical.
Details about what information would be collected, how that information would be used, and what other transactions and interactions crew will be using the tablets for were lacking. It did not appear the tablets would replace the current payment systems onboard, so only time will tell how the widespread use of the Windows tablets will affect the cruise experience.
A lot more technology updates and news was covered in yesterday’s Quantum of the Seas announcement. Let us know what you found worthwhile and what technology upgrades you saw as unnecessary.
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