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Articles on this Page
- 01/05/15--06:26: _Quantum of the Seas...
- 02/10/15--06:27: _Royal Caribbean sel...
- 02/12/15--13:44: _Video: Inside look ...
- 03/04/15--06:22: _Royal Caribbean deb...
- 06/18/15--06:24: _Royal Caribbean con...
- 08/25/15--07:36: _Using your cell pho...
- 08/25/15--11:00: _Video: An inside lo...
- 09/24/15--09:51: _Previewing Harmony ...
- 09/25/15--08:08: _How to bring Royal ...
- 10/28/15--12:00: _Spotted: Expanded f...
- 07/27/16--12:15: _How to stay in touc...
- 11/08/17--17:50: _Royal Caribbean ann...
- 11/13/17--07:25: _ABB to deliver firs...
- 11/14/17--08:22: _Spark looks to tran...
- 11/15/17--07:14: _A look at Royal Car...
- 01/24/18--12:04: _Royal Caribbean tal...
- 02/14/18--12:47: _Royal Caribbean inc...
- 03/07/18--07:56: _Royal Caribbean cre...
- 03/26/18--08:13: _Royal Caribbean hel...
- 08/07/18--05:42: _Royal Caribbean int...
- 01/05/15--06:26: Quantum of the Seas sets broadcast record for IP TV channels in HD
- 03/04/15--06:22: Royal Caribbean debuts a new website
- 08/25/15--07:36: Using your cell phone on a Royal Caribbean cruise
- $2.49 per minute for voice calls
- $0.50 per text message
- $1.30 per picture or video message
- $19.97 per MB ($0.0195 per KB)
- $1.79 per minute for voice calls
- $0.50 per message sent
- $0.05 per message received
- $2.05 per MB ($0.002KB)
- $30 package
- 50 voice call minutes ($1 per minute overage)
- $60 package
- 50 voice call minutes ($1 per minute overage)
- 100 text messages ($0.50 per message overage)
- $120 package
- 50 voice call minutes ($1 per minute overage)
- 100 text messages ($0.50 per message overage)
- 100MB data ($10 per 10 MB overage)
- $25 monthly access per line
- 100 MB monthly allowance ($25 per 100MB overage)
- For $15 more per line, add
- 100 minutes ($0.25 per minute overage)
- 100 sent texts ($0.25 per text sent overage)
- Unlimited received texts
- $2.99 per minute voice calls
- $0.50 per message sent
- $0.15 per message received
- $5.99 per minute voice calls
- $0.50 per message sent
- Messages received deducted from domestic texting plan allotment
- $15 per MB
- $15 per day, for one device for unlimited internet
- $22.50 per day, for two devices for unlimited internet
- $20 per day, for one device for unlimited internet
- $30 per day, for two devices for unlimited internet
- Text messages are usually the least expensive option to use and may also be the simplest. Depending on how much you text, the cost of this idea will vary.
- If you purchase one of Royal Caribbean's internet data plans, you can use text messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Viber to communicate without any extra cost beyond the internet package. iPhone users can use iMessage to also communicate for free with a internet package.
- We have heard about the Ripple Cruise Communicator that purports to allow free communication on a cruise ship, but have also heard mixed results of how effective it is.
- 08/25/15--11:00: Video: An inside look at the making of Royal Caribbean's azipods
- 09/24/15--09:51: Previewing Harmony of the Seas: Technology
- 09/25/15--08:08: How to bring Royal Caribbean to your new iPhone 6s
- 10/28/15--12:00: Spotted: Expanded functionality Wayfinders on Anthem of the Seas
- 07/27/16--12:15: How to stay in touch with someone on your Royal Caribbean cruise
- 50 minutes of voice calls, with $1 per minute over.
- 100 SMS messages, with $0.50 per message sent over.
- 100 MB of data, with $10 per 10 MB over.
- Voom Surf
- This offers basic web browsing, with no streaming services allowed
- Starts at $9.99 per day for 1 device
- The price gets cheaper as more devices are added to the plan
- Most guests can get a 30% pre-cruise discount via the Cruise Planner site
- There is also a Crown & Anchor Society discount once onboard
- Voom Surf + Stream
- Full internet access, including streaming services
- Starts at $12.99 per day for 1 device
- The price gets cheaper as more devices are added to the plan
- Most guests can get a 30% pre-cruise discount via the Cruise Planner site
- There is also a Crown & Anchor Society discount once onboard
- Allowing guests to board ships in the time it takes to order fries from the drive-through, skipping check-in lines thanks to facial recognition technology that knows who they are on arrival.
- Sign up for shore excursions, order drinks and make dinner reservations without ever leaving their chairs by the pool thanks to an intuitive app on a device most of them already have—a smartphone.
- Indulge in VR and AR experiences that transform ship spaces into virtual environments and interactive games, where stateroom ceilings might be replaced by starry skies, the walls of a restaurant can transform into the sights and sounds of an outdoor café and digital signs challenge you to play an arcade game.
- 11/13/17--07:25: ABB to deliver first fuel cell system for Royal Caribbean
- 11/15/17--07:14: A look at Royal Caribbean's tech announcement
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- Leave a voicemail: (408) 6ROYAL6
- 03/26/18--08:13: Royal Caribbean helping to test new satellite system
Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas has had a lot of firsts but not to be overlooked is the fact Royal Caribbean's newest ship has also set a benchmark in the broadcasting industry.
Royal Caribbean chose VSM by L-S-B Broadcast Technologies for all of the on-board digital broadcasting requirements of the ship, which is the first to feature 36 on-board IPTV-channels in HD, broadcasting from various locations on board.
Controlling all the broadcasts onboard Quantum of the Seas is the Broadcast Control Center. This is where the incoming and outgoing signals are controlled, switched and processed. Signals stemming from 20 satellite receivers, from the event locations or self-produced footage are collected. Further control rooms are in use in the various event locations.
Ten to 15 of the IPTV channels will be reserved for self-produced content on-board the vessel and all audio, video and intercom signals are being distributed on the ship via a Riedel MediorNet network with 30 nodes – currently the biggest fixed MediorNet installation worldwide.
Royal Caribbean has selected ElevenOS as the guest Internet management platform for all the ships in the fleet. ElevenOS' parent company Eleven has completed deployment of ElevenOS on all 22 ships at the end of 2014.
ElevenOS is used to manage all aspects of the onboard Internet service including custom branded portal pages, guest authentication, billing, and advanced reporting. With the help of ElevenOS, Royal Caribbean is able to deliver a faster, more reliable onboard connection and seamless online guest experience that works across multiple guest devices (phones, tablets, etc.)
ElevenOS also enables Royal Caribbean to offer tiered bandwidth options, so users can choose the level of service that meets their needs and budget.
"ElevenOS provides us the power and flexibility that we need in order to revolutionize Internet communications at sea for Royal Caribbean International guests,” commented Bill Martin, vice president and CIO for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Only in the last year can cruise vacationers enjoy the fiber-like Internet connectivity that can only be found aboard select Royal Caribbean International ships, as well as more than 10 times faster speed than the industry across the fleet. ElevenOS helps us effectively manage a range of products, pricing, accounting, and reporting, which has helped us deliver a seamless and stress-free Internet communications solution for our guests on vacation.”
Recently TechCrunch got a tour of the IT never center behind Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas.
The tour looks at how Royal Caribbean manages to provide a 600 Mbps connection with a satellite and provide Wi-Fi access across the ship for everyone.
Royal Caribbean debuted a brand new site redesign on its flagship site, royalcaribbean.com.
The new site look is a full-width layout that is a responsive design that adjusts its look conform to the screen resolution of your device.
This is not the only site design Royal Caribbean has trotted out recently. Royal Caribbean relaunched its blog with a new design and focus in January 2015. Royal Caribbean also revamped its Cruise Planner software for guests to book shore excursions, dining reservations and more last year in coordination with Quantum of the Seas' launch.
Based on the Internet Archive Wayback machine, the previous site design has been in use for a number of years going back to late 2011.
Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas had its high-speed internet access enabled while the ship is in the Mediterranean, according to O3b Networks.
O3b uses a new type of sattelite internet that reduces latency, increases internet speed and improves voice and video quality for the user.
O3bMaritime has already provided four of Royal Caribbean’s ships (Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas,Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas), each with more bandwidth than the rest of the cruise industry combined. In the near future, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas will move across the Pacific, bringing exceptional cruising experiences and at-sea high speed broadband to the Japanese ports of Okinawa and Kyoto, as well as other Asian destinations.
Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley commented on the partnership with O3b, "With O3b we have added a dimension to cruising that has never existed before. Our new internet capabilities allow our guests to surf, stream and share their vacation experiences with their friends and family back home. It also allows us to provide our business clientele a new way to stay connected with their colleagues."
Cell phones are a way of life these days, with every guest bringing their phone with them onto a Royal Caribbean cruise, just like they would bring their wallet or identification. The obvious question is can you use your cell phone onboard a Royal Caribbean ship and what are the costs.
Here is an in-depth look at what you need to know about using your cell phone while on a Royal Caribbean ship.
Calls, texts and data
Once you are onboard a Royal Caribbean ship and the ship begins to sail, Royal Caribbean operates a WMS mobile network, known as Cellular at Sea, that will work with any phone that allows roaming.
When the ship is sailing out of range of land-based mobile phone networks, mobile phone service will still be available. When the ship is in port, you can connect to local roaming networks as permitted by your home carrier.
Cellular at Sea is compatible with both GSM and CDMA technologies.
The exact rates will depend on your carrier and the cell phone plan you have signed up for.
As an example, AT&T charges
Verizon Wireless charges
Please note that calls to 800, 888, 866, and 877 numbers are not toll free. You will be billed by your home carrier for your international roaming usage on your regular mobile phone bill.
Not all prepaid phones are currently supported.
The bottom line is, using your cell phone on a Royal Caribbean ship while roaming can get very expensive, very quickly.
Cell phone plans for cruises
AT&T offers cell phone packages specifically for use on a Royal Caribbean ship.
There are three packages to choose from and they must be purchased prior to your cruise.
These cruise packages can be added by calling 800.335.4685 and a one-month minimum required.
Verizon Wireless offers Cruise Ship Preferred Pricing
Sprint offers international rates for Royal Caribbean ships
T-Mobile offers international rates for Royal Caribbean ships
Avoiding cell phone roaming costs
There are two simple ways to avoid the roaming costs that your cell phone provider may levy on you for using your phone while onboard.
Easiest and simplest is to turn your phone off before the ship leaves port.
Alternatively, if you would prefer to keep use of your phone in an offline mode, put the phone into "airplane mode".
Airplane mode disables the phone's ability to communicate with cell phone towers and will ensure you can use your phone without incurring charges.
For instructions on how to put your phone into airplane mode, refer to your phone manufacturer.
Using WiFi on your phone
Many guests choose to put their phone in airplane mode but use WiFi signals onboard or onshore to retain data communication.
Nearly all modern phones allow you to put the phone in airplane mode while turning back on the WiFi signal.
Royal Caribbean provides internet service via WiFi on all of its cruise ships that can be purchased in increments or as unlimited packages.
Royal Caribbean ships with Voom high speed internet can pay
Royal Caribbean ships without high speed internet can pay
Staying connected with other guests
Often we hear from guests who want the best way to be able to communicate with other guests onboard their Royal Caribbean cruise. Since voice calls are usually prohibitively expensive, here are some ideas for low cost ways to communicate with a phone.
Always on the cutting edge of technology, Royal Caribbean uses azipods to propel and safely maneuver its ships on the high seas. Watch as these powerful propellers make ship navigation more precise than ever before.
Royal Caribbean has built a reputation for itself in being a technological leader when it comes to the technological advancements it brings to its cruise ships and on Harmony of the Seas, guests can expect the very latest innovations.
Technology will be at the heart of what Harmony of the Seas offers, so here is a look at what guests can expect to find at their fingertips when they get onboard the largest cruise ship in the world.
True high speed internet
When folks think of using the internet on a cruise ship, there is usually a groan and sigh involved because traditionally internet at sea has been mid-1990s slow.
On Harmony of the Seas, guests can enjoy the high-speed internet experience known as Voom.
Voom is Royal Caribbean's new satellite internet service that allows guests to post to Facebook and Instagram, post videos on YouTube, tweet about your shore excursion, and have face-to-face conversations via Skype and Google Hangouts. Plus, you can even stream movies, games and apps via your personal accounts with Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and more.
The Voom speeds are the real deal and Royal Caribbean even says if you need to do business work onboard, with Voom you can check email, transfer files, host video conferences, Skype and more, just as if you were on land.
Everything on your wrist
An undeniably cool innovation coming to Harmony of the Seas are the RFID bracelets known as WOW Bands.
WOW Bands give guests everything they have been accustomed to having in a SeaPass card, on their wrist. This means getting access to staterooms, making purchases and checking in for entertainment has never been easier.
Guests can use their WOWband to enter their staterooms, purchase beverages, merchandise and anything else Royal Caribbean sells. Plus, WOWbands serve as an easy way to distinguish which muster station each guest is assigned to.
WOW Bands are an optional feature but once you try the WOW Bands, you will likely be leaving your SeaPass card behind in your stateroom.
Get drinks made by robots
What happens when you mix your favorite beverages with cutting-edge robotics? You get the Bionic Bar on Harmony of the Seas.
Makr Shakr created Bionic Bar for the Quantum class ships and they have brought this impressive creation to Harmony of the Seas, where guests can order drinks from iPads and then marvel in the spectacle of robotic arms creating the drink on the spot.
Combining robots and mixology, Bionic Bar is something you have to see to appreciate because every time you walk by, it is so tantalizing to watch the robots in action.
The single armed robot will get the ice, mints and lemon and then squeeze and shake them to make your drink. Eventually, there wont be a limit on what the drinks the robots can make. The customization is what Royal Caribbean is aiming for.
A room with a (virtual) view
Staying in an inside stateroom does not mean you do not have a view anymore. On Harmony of the Seas, guests will be able to enjoy virtual balconies in their inside staterooms.
What is a virtual balcony? Inside staterooms on Harmony of the Seas offer a floor-to-ceiling high-definition LED screen that shows real-time views from specific points on the ship.
Royal Caribbean designed the virtual balcony to look (and sound) like the real thing, so guests can see everything going on in a port or just the vast serenity of the ocean passing by.
Guests can turn the virtual balcony off at any time, especially at night when sleeping but it's available anytime they want.
There's even natural sounds that are piped into your stateroom to provide as authentic an experience as possible.
The only thing missing is the balcony stateroom price tag!
There's an app for that
With the Royal iQ smartphone app, everything is easier to do onboard Harmony of the Seas.
Royal iQ allows guests to track their luggage as it comes onboard the ship, book shore excursions and dinner reservations as well as chat or call friends and family onboard.
Available for iPads, iPhones, and Android phones, Royal iQ gives you the flexibility to decide what to do and when to do it.
Royal iQ allows guests to manage details during the cruise, includes a convenient calendar that provides at-a-glance views of the cruise or conference program.
If you prefer not to carry a phone or tablet with you, Harmony of the Seas will offer eight freestanding iQ stations at Guest Services that give you the same functionality as the mobile apps. You will also find roaming Guest Services staff to assist as well.
Get to the fun faster
Royal Caribbean wants the boarding process for Harmony of the Seas to be the simplest yet. Why waste time in the pier doing paper work?
Guests sailing on Harmony of the Seas can take care of all necessary documentation online including uploading your own photo and receiving digital boarding confirmation.
Without a check‑in counter, there aren't any forms to fill out or lines to wait in.
All of this means less time spent waiting in lines and filling out forms and a quicker way to get onboard and having vacation start a whole lot sooner.
Which tech innovation excites you the most? Tell us in the comments below!
For those unaware, Apple released today its brand new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus phones and all over the world, and already there are lots of people are waiting in line (or at home for the delivery man) to get their hands on the hottest phone.
So once you have your brand new iPhone unwrapped and ready to use, here are some ways to bring a little Royal Caribbean to your phone so you have one more way to get a quick virtual escape!
Buy a Royal Caribbean inspired case
Show off your new iPhone in style with a snazzy new case that not only protects your iPhone, but tells everyone you love to cruise.
Even though the iPhone 6s just launched, there are plenty of cases already available to suit your needs.
We went through what was available and picked some of our favorites!
Play Penguin Ahoy
Did you know Royal Caribbean released a side-scrolling race game based on the Oasis class cruise ships?
In Penguin Ahoy, users try to avoid the sprinklers, dodge the basketballs, slide under the inflatables to keep the penguin running for as long as possible without being caught by the crew!
The game is a fun way to spend some time seeing the FlowRider in action, the Rock Wall, H2O zone, Ice Skating, Golf and Basketball court.
The game is free from the App Store.
Get the official app
Of course, we would be remiss if we did not mention downloading the official Royal Caribbean iOS app.
The Royal Caribbean app allows users to see where Royal Caribbean sails, explore unique onboard features that are only on Royal Caribbean’s ships, learn about our many destinations, and see what is happening onboard the Oasis & Allure of the Seas.
Like the game, it too is free!
Download Royal Caribbean wallpaper
If you like seeing Royal Caribbean more often, try setting your lock screen or wallpaper to something Royal Caribbean!
iPhones allow you to change the image you see when your phone is locked or have something behind all of your icons.
To find a perfectly cropped photo for your iPhone, do a Google Image search for "royal caribbean iphone wallpaper".
You should find plenty of choices to pick from and then you can always see something Royal Caribbean when you turn on your phone!
Share with us how you bring a little Royal Caribbean to your phone or tablet in the comments below!
Royal Caribbean has been adding digital wayfinders to their cruise ships since they were first introduced on Oasis of the Seas, but recently, they have gotten a software upgrade that gives them much more functionality.
Royal Caribbean's digital wayfinders are interactive kiosks found in the elevator lobbies of most ships. It offers guests access to what is happening on the ship, directions to anywhere on the ship and even restaurant information.
Recently, Royal Caribbean upgraded the software for these wayfinders to allow guests to locate any ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet, read more information about the officers and more.
When using the wayfinders, guests can choose from a variety of options.
The "Ship Locator" is one of the new links, that will give guests a look at the location of every ship in the fleet.
In fact, the Ship Locator will also show the location of sister company ships, such as Celebrity Cruise and Azamara Club Cruise ships.
Guests can also look up information on the officers onboard their Royal Caribbean ship and learn more about each one of them.
Big thanks to Royal Caribbean Blog reader Rich Freudenberg for providing these photos!
In addition, the wayfinders feature a Port Explorer feature, which highlights the itinerary you are on and allows guests to explore the port from a Google Maps experience
These new features were first introduced on Quantum of the Seas, and will also be available on Harmony of the Seas and Ovations of the Seas.
We get a lot of questions about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise, and there is one question that gets asked a lot about how to stay in touch with those on the same ship as them. Often, the question goes something like this, "I am cruising with several groups of people. How do you recommend we stay connected on the ship besides the room phone?"
Royal Caribbean cruise ships range in a guest capacity of about 2,000 to 6,500, so finding one person onboard is not always a simple task. If you are also wondering the best way to get a hold of someone you are cruising with, here are some helpful means of doing so. Each has its advantages or disadvantages, and price will vary as well.
Thanks to Billy Hirsch for contributing a lot to the writing of this blog post!
Royal Caribbean's phones
Utilizing Royal Caribbean's in-room phones and phones in common areas is a simple way to communicate with guests onboard your ship and onshore.
If you are trying to reach a guest onboard the ship, you can make a call to their stateroom and optionally leave a message. Use of the phones for calls to a guest's stateroom is complimentary. Of course, it requires the guest to be in the room to answer the call and/or check the voicemail. This can result in "phone tag," where it seems like you are always missing each other.
If you want to get in contact with someone on land, there are two options.
Calls made from land to your Royal Caribbean cruise (shore to ship) can be achieved by calling (888) 724-7447/(321) 953-9003 to reach passengers. The cost of this service is $7.95 per minute, and is chargeable to a Visa or MasterCard credit card.
Calls made from your Royal Caribbean ship to somewhere on land (ship to shore) can be made from your stateroom phone and also costs $7.95 per minute, billed to your SeaPass account.
Using your cell phone service
These days, almost everyone has a cell phone with them and your cell phone will function while on a cruise, although the cost of doing so will vary greatly.
Phone calls made while at sea and using Royal Caribbean's cell phone service will come with a hefty cost, depending on your cell phone plan. Usually, calls cost $6-8 per minute depending on your carrier.
Text messaging, however, is far less expensive. Once again, rates will vary, but most SMS messages that are sent will cost anywhere from 25 cents to $1 per message, with incoming messages free or up to 50 cents per message.
Using your cell phone's data plan can be prohibitively expensive, with costs of $1 per MB or more. You are better off skipping this option and looking at Voom options (scroll down to see more about this).
Some cell phone providers offer a special international plan for use on a cruise ship. For example, AT&T has a partnership with Royal Caribbean, where you can pre-purchase a plan that provides an allotment of phone usage at sea.
For $120 per month, this plan provides
Voom for data services
Royal Caribbean's high-speed internet option it offers to its guests on all ships is known as Voom, and it provides an affordable means of using internet data to stay in touch with friends and family.
There are two Voom plans offered:
Use Voom Surf + Stream to make calls
Royal Caribbean's top-tier internet option not only can allow for web browsing, but also provides the ability for savvy users to make phone calls while onboard your cruise for significantly less than the other means listed earlier in this blog post.
The easiest option is to use WiFi calling through your carrier. Most major cell phone carriers these days provide a means of making phone calls via an internet connection instead of relying on a cell phone connection.
WiFi calling has no additional cost and works just like you are at home and supports voice calls, text messaging (SMS and MMS). It works with most newer devices, including iPhone 5C and later, Android and Blackberry devices. Check with your carrier for exact devices that are supported.
At last check, these carriers supported WiFi calling
To make a phone call over WiFi, put your device into airplane mode and connect to Voom via WiFi. If set up correctly on your phone, your calls, texts will be routed through Voom.
Free/low cost VoIP Services
There are many applications for your smart phone, computer or tablets that allow for free or low cost phone calls as well. There are a number popular applications we recommend using.
With all of these solutions, we highly recommend testing them out before your Royal Caribbean cruise to ensure you understand how it works and is set up correctly.
Skype is quite easy to use and offers voice, video and texting between Skype accounts for free. All you need to do is install Skype on your device and have the person you are communicating with do the same.
Skype users can also make voice calls and text message between Skype and a phone for a low cost. There is no contract or commitment to use this service, just load up your Skype account with Skype credit.
Google's messaging application, Google Hangouts, is completely free and supports free outbound domestic phone calls. Unfortunately, there are no inbound calls possible in most cases.
Google Hangout also allows for free messaging to anyone else with a Google account (which is everyone these days), as well as video chat.
Another popular messaging application for smart phones is WhatsApp, which supports easy communicating.
Before your cruise, set up an account (you will need to verify your account via SMS messaging). Once set up, WhatsApp users can message between WhatsApp users, conduct video chat and make calls to and from WhatsApp users.
Another free option is to use Facebook Messenger. This is totally free, and allows for messaging between Facebook users, as well as video chat.
Facebook Messenger also supports calls to and from Facebook users.
Which means of communicating with friends and family on your ship and at sea do you find to be the best option? Did we miss one you know about? Share your comments and suggestions in the comments!
Royal Caribbean announced today a slew of technological innovations that aim to make things simpler and easier for guests going on a cruise.
At the heart of the new technology overhaul is a new smartphone app that will be rolled out to every Royal Caribbean ship over the next two years. The app promises to eliminate check-in lines at ports, equip crew members to anticipate guests’ needs, and enable giant cruise ships to sail through the water on a fuel-saving curtain of air.
Some features of the new app include
Many of these same technologies are being deployed to put the power to manage your vacation in the palm of your hand. Jay Schneider, RCL’s senior vice president, digital, explained, “Our new app will make it simpler than ever to book and plan your cruise vacation from home or with a travel agent. Once on board, you can navigate our ships with interactive maps and guides, explore the ship with cool features like x-ray vision, or order drinks that can be delivered to you wherever you are on the ship.” The app, along with the next generation of the company’s WOW Bands, will also unlock guest staterooms and enable guests to control stateroom lighting and temperature.
This technology will be available on 13% of ships by the end of 2017, 50% by the end of 2018 and fleetwide by the end of 2019.
Royal Caribbean is turning to a combination of technologies to make the process of getting onboard a Royal Caribbean ship the easiest it has ever been. In Royal Caribbean's eyes, less time spent boarding means more time for vacation. To that end, Royal Caribbean is utilizing technologies ranging from facial recognition to RFID tagging to GPS mapping to Bluetooth-enabled beacons to streamline boarding, manage check-ins automatically and improve wayfinding.
“We are finding ways to eliminate friction and frustration, giving guests more time to make the memories that make vacations special,” said Schneider.
Lessened environmental impact
At a Royal Caribbean's invitation-only Sea Beyond event in New York City, innovations aimed at enhancing overall ship management and improving energy efficiency were on display.
For example, forthcoming command centers will use augmented reality to assist with navigation and maneuvering. “Think of it as enabling the nautical equivalent of flying on instruments,” said Richard D. Fain, RCL’s chairman and CEO. “Our ships always operate with keen sensitivity to the limitations the weather may impose. But having new means to mitigate the weather’s impacts on departures and arrivals helps us uphold schedule and itinerary commitments important to our guests,” added Fain.
Royal Caribbean is also innovating to reduce fuel consumption across its fleet, which not only lowers operating costs but also lightens stack emissions that are part of cruising’s environmental footprint. Historically, each new class of RCL ships is significantly more fuel efficient than its predecessors as new high efficiency appliances, window tinting and improved lighting, heating and cooling technologies help reduce energy needs. The company continues to evolve hull designs to reduce drag, an evolution most evident in the “bulbous bows” now common on cruise ships. In addition, RCL is pioneering the use of an air lubrication system that coats the hulls of its ships with millions of microscopic air bubbles to further reduce resistance and drag. In initial uses, air lubrication has reduced fuel consumption at speed by 7 to 8 percent.
Complementing RCL’s energy conservation efforts are initiatives to use alternative energy sources. Some RCL ships are already equipped with solar panels that generate sufficient power for limited onboard needs. At Sea Beyond, RCL will be previewing the use of fuel cells for power generation. Fuel cell use could fundamentally change ship design by distributing power sources throughout the ship. Furthermore, adoption of fuel cells would also mean producing less energy from diesel generators, reducing ships’ environmental footprints. The company is planning fuel cell experiments on existing ships, with an eye to extensive use of fuel cells and liquefied natural gas (LNG) propulsion on its upcoming Icon class of ships. “We are fully embracing the expectation that we run an environmentally sustainable business,” said Fain. “Experimenting with new ways to power our ships is just part of our broad commitment to being a responsible environmental steward.”
Focus on the crew
The innovations enriching the cruise guest experience will be complemented by a suite of tools for crews, as well. For example, the app-enabled offerings for guests will be mirrored on the crew side by mobile applications that help crew members check-in guests, complete required paperwork, track delivery of guests’ bags to their staterooms, and interact with guests and anticipate their needs throughout their vacations.
In addition, crews will have access to easier means to manage their own schedules, stay connected to friends and family while onboard, and stay connected to RCL during their off-contract periods.
Heavy electrical company ABB announced it will deliver its first fuel cell system to be piloted on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. This will be the first fuel cell system to provide an energy source for a luxury cruise ship.
The pilot installation, including control, converter and transformer technology from ABB, will generate 100 kW of energy, and has been fully developed, marinized, assembled and tested by ABB Marine & Ports. ABB selected an FCvelocity® proton exchange membrane (PEM) pure hydrogen fuel cell engine from Ballard Power Systems for its pilot system.
Fuel cells generate energy by exploiting an electrochemical reaction at the interface between the anode or cathode and the electrolyte membrane. They involve no combustion, converting fuel directly to electricity and heat.
"Our goal is to take the smoke out of the smokestacks", said Harri Kulovaara, Executive Vice President of Maritime and Newbuilding, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "We are dedicated to innovation, continuous improvement, and environmental responsibility, and using fuel cell technology gives us the opportunity to deliver against all three of these pillars."
This test installation is part of Royal Caribbean's drive to include emissions-free fuel cell technology as part of the powering for its forthcoming Icon-class ships.
Spark Cooperative launched a new toolset that has one simple goal: revolutionize the way cruise lines plan the onboard guest experience.
Spark's SET software suite is designed to let a cruise line utilize models and visualizations of the guest experience to cater to guest segments. Once experience plans are made, brands can run game-changing analytics to reveal a number of insights, such as where they can reduce associated resource costs, and how best to deliver experiences for all types of climates and scenarios.
"Traditionally, in the 80s, 90s, and even early 2000s, there was really kind one type of cruiser, and it was really easy to kind of plan the six o'clock, eight o'clock dinner, and the six o'clock, eight o'clock show. These early cruisers were really satisfied with the way that cruise lines planned ahead for them," said Joshua Belz, Principal, Spark Cooperative. "Then NCL introduced Freestyle cruising, which was revolutionary at the time, and has really spread through the industry. . .What SET is going to do for cruise brands, and resort and hospitality brands that compete on experience, is think through the day of all of their different segments simultaneously."
"It has gotten to a point now where everyone expects so much from these brands that rely on experience, that you really need to segment your populations," said Ronnie Farzad, Principal, Spark Cooperative. "What SET does for these brands is actually allow them to spend a significant amount of time up front planning for those processes and planning for those people who are going to show up at the pier, but it basically takes all the guess work on the adjustments they have to make on a cruise by cruise basis during rain-or-shine scenarios, or when itineraries change. They experience design up front, and it creates all the tools for their teams to be able to actually execute that on the go."
SET offers flexible plans to span the marketplace: from international enterprises with multiple brands and properties to single-property portfolios. The software comes with responsive and reliable support, and because it’s web-based, it can be accessed from anywhere at any time.
What this software aims to do is attempt to disrupt process that has been done traditionally by historical experience, and instead infuse data and analytics into the modeling and simulation tool to give cruise lines an operational plan.
Belz talked about the impetus for SET is as much a market demand today as it will be going forward, "Just looking at the roadmap of the industry, so many ships coming online in the next 10 years, so many more guest experiences, way more complex and exciting demographics coming onboard. The industry is going to be hungry for a way to address these new cruises."
Farzad explained, “For hospitality companies, carrying forward experiences delivered to the previous properties worked for a period of time. In the experience economy, brands are asking how can we differentiate further? And that’s exactly what we want to do. We want to make it a data-driven and design-driven process.”
Royal Caribbean unveiled some of the impressive work they are doing towards radically improving the onboard guest experience with an array of tech advancements. Their vision for what will eventually change how guests will coordinate their onboard experience was at the heart of a media event in New York city, and that gave me the opportunity to take a first-hand look at what Royal Caribbean has in store. This week, I want to share what these changes are all about, and my thoughts on the next generation of Royal Caribbean technology.
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Royal Caribbean held a conference call with investors to review the fourth quarter 2017 results, and within the discussion, we picked out some interesting anecdotes that cruise fans would enjoy.
Fleet wide refurbishment
Of particular interest to cruisers, Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain alluded to a "transformational fleet upgrading program" which will kick off this year.
Royal Caribbean International ships will be part of what the company is calling Royal Amplified. This program aims to extend the appeal of the brand with new cruisers and returning cruisers.
Mr. Fain summed up Royal Amplified as, "We're redefining the experiences that drive, choice, guest satisfaction, and ultimately revenue."
If you are wondering what exactly Royal Amplified entails, there does not appear to be much information on that yet. Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley alluded to Royal Amplified in November 2017, when he mentioned the program as part of a way the cruise line is rethinking some of its onboard venues.
Caribbean recovery after the hurricanes
Photo by TheTwangster
Following the hurricanes of 2017, Royal Caribbean saw soft bookings in the six weeks that followed these storms.
Royal Caribbean Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty noted that trends normalized in November, and have been in-line with the cruise line's expectations since then.
"First quarter Caribbean sailings were in a very strong booked position before the storms, recovered relatively quickly afterwards, and are currently booked ahead."
Project Excalibur potential
Royal Caribbean's next-gen technology initiative, codenamed Project Excalibur, has Richard Fain very excited for the prospects of the future.
"I really think it is going to transform. I think it is going to be fantastic. I think it will take a little while for it roll out and for the public to see just how exciting it is."
No change in reducing last minute discounts
When questioned about the possibility of Royal Caribbean revisiting its Price Integrity Policy that curbs last-minute cruise discounts, Richard Fain was quite firm in his answer.
"The Price Integrity Program was a part of [the Double Double Program], and we think the benefit keeps growing over time. The Price Integrity Program has been a big success for us. We have been fairly religious about executing against it, and we continue to expect to do that."
Michael Bayley added another point, "We introduced several months ago a non-refundable deposit pricing program for the Royal brand, and that has proven to be very successful for us. So we have a significant percentage of our '18 bookings are in this non-refundable category, which means that we will see significantly less churn in our bookings as we move through the calendar year for '18 and into '19."
Emphasis on digital over traditional marketing
Michael Bayley also talked about the emphasis the cruise line has placed in digital marketing over traditional marketing, primarily for cost savings and for better tracking ability.
"What we are seeing is an improvement in the efficiency of that marketing investment over time, because of digital - because it is a lot easier to track and understand the results that you are generating through digital versus traditional. Yes, we are investing more in our marketing, and yes we are investing more as we look into the future, but, we're also seeing an improvement in the efficiency of that investment."
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Speedcast announced today they have extended its relationship together, which will further increase the bandwidth delivered across all Royal Caribbean International cruise ships.
The expansion of this deal will lead to increased bandwidth for guests and crew members, which will improve the guest experience.
Royal Caribbean began parterning with Speedcast in 2006, when Speedcast installted the first Ku-Band VSAT antenna that helped with increased demand. The Speedcast network now delivers fully managed communications solutions and value-added services to 37 Royal Caribbean brand ships for shipboard administration, and guest and crew usage. Multiple antennas on each ship with seamless automatic failover between Ku-Band and C-Band ensures high availability and Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
"Speedcast has been an integral part of our long-standing efforts to implement the latest connectivity solutions that allow us to provide enhanced communications for everyone, from our guests onboard to our employees onshore," said Guillermo Muniz, director, Network and Satellite Engineering, Royal Caribbean. "We are consistently raising the bar on ship innovation and increasing requirements, and Speedcast is right there with us, collaborating to make sure that we have the infrastructure and support to deliver the best experience."
Royal Caribbean announced today it is rolling out the first part of its enhanced Guest Digital Experience with a new Universal Guest Account.
Beginning in March 2018, Royal Caribbean will begin offering an enhanced guest account that will, "deliver many capabilities of our digital cruise experience, to simplify the guest experience online and to allow guests to quickly access features and information."
The one login can be used for Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises apps and websites. It promises to bring them everything guests need from loyalty (Crown & Anchor) information, personalized itineraries and details – all with just one account login.
In addition, Royal Caribbean has simplified and strengthened the account security and password reset processes to ensure guest information is safe and accessible.
Guests may experience new functionality while it is being trialed beginning as early as March 7, 2018 who have upcoming reservations.
Royal Caribbean has also hinted that additional digital enhancements are coming in the months to follow. Other enhancements include the ability to book anything imaginable from a smart phone and more.
Royal Caribbean's Ovation fo the Seas is helping test a new satellite tracking system that aims to be even more precise and accurate than any system before it.
Ovation of the Seas is testing the highly accurate positioning technology, as part of the trial of a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) for the Australasian region. Standalone GPS positioning is giving you five to 10 metre level positioning, whereas SBAS allows for corrections at the 10 centimere level to the entire area.
SBAS technology was used by Acoustic Imaging in consultation with the Port Authority of New South Wales to help dock Ovation of the Seas on its most recent visit to Sydney Harbour.
The Chief Operating Officer of Port Authority of New South Wales and Harbour Master, Philip Holliday said Ovation of the Seas is one of the biggest cruise ships to dock in Sydney Harbour during the cruise season.
"Sydney is extremely busy during the cruise season; we have enormous cruise ships coming in virtually every day and intermingled into all of that is ferry and recreation traffic. It's a busy working harbour," Mr Holliday said.
The lead scientist of Acoustic Imaging's maritime programs, Nicole Bergersen said the docking of Ovation of the Seas, which is over 330 metres long and too tall to sail beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge, was a unique opportunity to test how the use of SBAS technology could potentially benefit the ports of Sydney Harbour.
"The berth box inside Circular Quay is marginally smaller than the Ovation of the Seas, so the Ovation of the Seas is actually parking with nose protruding out in front of that parking spot. We're on a level where metres matter, and centimetres matter." Ms Bergersen said.
"What SBAS is allowing us to do is have the pilot rely just on the information on the computer screen and if we can enable instrument navigation, then the pilot no longer needs visibility to be able to steer a ship.
"That's going to allow the Port Authority of New South Wales to bring in more ships, more frequently and in adverse conditions."
Royal Caribbean announced a new digital experience, powered by artificial intelligence, called SoundSeeker that will turn your favorite photos into musical works of art.
After working on SoundSeeker for more than a year, the cruise line has released the tool publically today. It is specifically designed to use machine learning to seamlessly create original soundtracks based on the content of each photograph.
By simply visiting the SoundSeeker site, users can upload three photos of their choice, and the AI analyzes them based on color, landscape, backdrop, emotion, body language and facial expression. SoundSeeker then turns them into a shareable and one-of-a kind soundtrack – virtually DJing life’s most brag-worthy moments. Fans can follow along on Royal Caribbean’s social channels, and by searching #SoundSeeker.
Royal Caribbean teamed up with the Berklee College of Music, and technologists from around the world, to create the unique song generator. Berklee leveraged music theory to create a roadmap for the tool that helps determine the musical pairing to photos, accounting for pitch, tempo and instrumental combinations, among others.
“SoundSeeker is the latest proof point of Royal Caribbean innovation and how we focus it on delivering unexpected, memorable experiences; whether that is the SkyPad, which uniquely combines bungee jumping with virtual reality or live streaming your favorite shows from the middle of the ocean using VOOM, the fastest internet at sea,” said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer, Royal Caribbean International. “People of all ages crave new ways to share their best experiences on social media. This unprecedented tool allows you to put a completely unique, multisensory spin on sharing those memories – now friends and followers can see and hear your life’s adventures.”
SoundSeeker uses machine learning, an artificial intelligence technique that enables computers to simulate human intelligence and make decisions on their own without explicit instructions. The learning process entailed more than 600 hours in which Royal Caribbean and a team of musicians and technologists reviewed hundreds of music tracks along with 10,000 photos, matching each of the 2.5 million combinations to one of 10 moods.
The AI in SoundSeeker uses Google Cloud Vision to identify objects, facial expressions and colors in a user’s photo by referencing the roadmap developed by the leaders in music theory at Berklee. SoundSeeker then finds the musical elements corresponding to each mood in the photo to compose a genuinely distinct audio and visual photo album. The Royal Caribbean tool is equipped to generate over one million unique tracks, based on custom base tracks, composed exclusively for the cruise line. The customized tracks take inspiration from a wide variety of music, including 90s hip-hop, rock, modern and electronic dance music.