Cutting-edge technology isn’t something you’d necessarily associate with a cruise holiday. But cruise ships are becoming smarter and more connected than ever before as well as using technology to provide spectacular entertainment experiences.
Royal Caribbean is leading the way when it comes to on board technology. On newer Royal Caribbean ships like Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas, guests have the use of RFID ‘WOWband’ wristbands (RFID means radio-frequency identification). These clever little devices make on board purchases so guests don’t have to carry cash or credit cards, and the band serves as the room key too. They also scan guests on and off the ship so the crew know whether a passenger has boarded, making for smooth embarkation and disembarkation on shore days and at the start and finish of the cruise.
Refreshments served by robots
Technology powers a Bionic Bar on some Royal Caribbean ships. Here, guests place their bespoke drinks orders via tablets and then have fun watching two robotic bartenders hard at work making two drinks a minute. So if you fancy something zesty, order a fruit juice with ice for a yummy treat that is made to your exact specification. You even get to give your personalised drink its own name.
Virtual views on a cruise
Pioneered by Disney Cruise Line and their ‘magic portholes’, special screens in rooms with no windows give guests a view to the outside. This technology is now found on other cruise lines too. On board Quantum of the Seas, and even some of Royal Caribbean’s older ships like Navigator of the Seas, virtual balconies show real-time sights and sounds of the sea on massive 80-inch LED screens.
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 can be found traversing the Atlantic from the UK to New York. With few places to divert for emergencies, this ship is equipped with a mini hospital on board, complete with an x-ray machine and lab. Rather cleverly, the Queen Mary 2 also uses reverse osmosis to make sea water drinkable.
Menus on iPads can be found in the QSine restaurant on-board some Celebrity cruise ships. But interactive dining experiences don’t stop there. The Animator’s Palate restaurant on Disney Fantasy takes technology to another level in the Animation Magic Show. As guests are seated at their tables, they draw a character of their own using a simple template on their placemat. During dinner, Mickey Mouse works his magic and fully animates the drawings onto the screens that surround the restaurant, to dance alongside favourite Disney characters.
Real-time luggage tracking
Worried about your bags going missing? On board some Royal Caribbean ships, guests can track luggage in real time on their smartphones. Luggage is tagged with RFID technology at drop-off, and guests can monitor their bags progress through key points en route to the stateroom.
Time-saving cruise planning apps
Royal Caribbean’s RoyalIQ app allows guests to research and book dining reservations, shore excursions and spa appointments before their holiday begins. For a fee, guests can also call and text each other using the app. Norwegian Cruise Line’s iConcierge app is available for most of its fleet of ships too and offers a similar service.
On board Norwegian Cruise Line’s NCL Breakaway, there are over 50 touchscreens around the ship allowing guests to find their way around and book restaurants and activities. Expect to find them dotted around the whole ship, sometimes conveniently at tables. Guests can even see how busy other areas of the ship are to help decide where to head first.
On board Disney Cruise Line ships, every room has two Wave Phones so families can call and text each other on board for free without having to use their personal mobile phones. They are great gadgets to keep in touch when family members are off enjoying different activities on board.
Who knew it was possible to sky dive at sea? Using the latest simulator technology, Royal Caribbean has made it a reality on some of its superliners with RipCord, a virtual sky dive experience. This is the next adrenaline pumping activity to be offered by Royal Caribbean, pushing the boundaries further from its surfing simulators, FlowRider.
3D and IMAX Cinemas
It’s not unusual to find 3D cinemas at sea. Even Cunard’s beautifully conservative British ships have them on board. Now, Carnival Vista takes it one step further with a supersize IMAX cinema on board showing the latest releases and classic favourites.
Disney Fantasy’s Magic PlayFloor is Disney’s way of showcasing its technological expertise, blending the latest in gaming technology with Disney-style storytelling. It’s an interactive floor where movements control the action so children can fly over the streets of London with Peter Pan and race a car like Lightning McQueen.
Technology is playing a part in making the newest cruise ships more environmentally friendly. Ship engineers consider the vessel’s energy consumption with efficient hull configuration, engine design and energy saving devices. Ships like Harmony of the Seas have no incandescent bulbs, with all lighting provided by low-energy LED or fluorescents and motion sensors even dim hallway lighting when they are not being used.
To speak to a cruise expert about the right cruise for you, call 971 4 389 8801 or visit www.imaginecruising.ae for more inspiration.