Skift Take

Can a touch screen and on-ship Wi-Fi make cruisers feel connected? We're skeptical.

As in society at large, the cruise industry is moving hard and fast toward mobile software solutions that put easily updatable functionality on people’s own devices.

But that doesn’t mean hardware has completely taken a backseat.

Recently we came out with a new Skift Trends Report, The Rise of the New Connected Cruise, on how cruise lines are innovating with technology and connectivity in the high seas. Get the full report for more insights and strategies.

Aboard Royal Caribbean’s ships, large digital “Wayfinder” touchscreens located at all elevator landings give guests directions to staterooms and venues on board, quick access to onboard activity listings, and answers to common questions, as well as linking to pattern and shape recognition software in the ship’s restaurants to tell guests in real time how crowded each restaurant is.

“Guests love it because it’s just smart. It’s really easy to use,” says Royal Caribbean CIO Bill Martin. “Kids use it, older grandparents use it. By sharing what restaurants have availability, guests will self-select away from restaurants that are particularly busy at a point in time, and as a result, we rarely if ever see lines outside restaurants, because people already know which restaurants are filling up.”

Wayfinders screens were first introduced on the line’s largest ships, Oasis and Allure of the Seas, and then rolled out to other ships in the fleet.

Elsewhere, Royal Caribbean has found creative uses for tablet computers. In its Vintages Wine Bars, iPad menus let guests communicate with their waiter and also go in-depth on the different wines available, showing videos of the vineyards and background on how the wine is made. Aboard sister-line Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice-class vessels, guests can check out iPads pre-loaded with self-directed art tours of the ships’ extensive contemporary art collections. Arranged by deck, the tours provide background on the artist and the individual work.

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Tags: celebrity cruises, royal caribbean

Photo credit: Digital Wayfinder System on Freedom of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship.