The Royal Caribbean Cruise fleet is about to get a whole lot smarter; the luxury vacation announced that they’ll be implementing new technology from Insight Enterprises to improve connectivity and services on board.
Royal Caribbean has incorporated Insight technology in seven of its ships, including the world's largest cruise vessel Allure of the Seas. The new technology loadout includes over 900 separate wireless access points and 365 separate point-of-sale (POS) terminals. Ship networks will now be able to access electronic healthcare records (EHR) and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service for 1,000 phones. There's even a new digital-based reservations platform, as well as streaming video options, interactive displays, and new digital options in the vessel's casinos.
In a more exotic use of Insight’s tech, there are plans for robotic bartenders that mix and serve cocktails with incredible precision, as well as mobile apps and even radio frequency identification (RFID) bracelets.
The technology was field tested on Lake Michigan and Insight's Chicago-based Newbuild Configuration Center, where it became clear that, indeed, Royal Caribbean could handle a fleet of so-called “smartships.”
Insight's U.S. President, Steve Dodenhoff, offered up some comment on the venture, saying, “Working with Royal Caribbean to integrate IT systems into ships the size of the Empire State Building presented unique scope and scale complexities, but working through the challenges has created a fleet that caters to passengers who have high connectivity demands.”
Cruising has often had some accessibility problems that come along with it. The lack of Internet service was one issue, particularly for those of the mobile workforce who needed those short spurts of access at all times. But with this advance, Royal Caribbean is bringing cruising forward, taking advantage of the best parts of online technology—VoIP to call the folks back home, streaming video and the like—to make cruising not just relaxing, but maybe a little productive. That's likely to get a few more passengers on board these massive vessels.
With Royal Caribbean routinely expanding its ships—reports from back in February suggest that the cruise line is already working on a new world's largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, for delivery in 2016—it's not surprising to see the internals of the vessels get a likewise upgrade. While it's not clear just how appealing these changes will be to cruisers, it's a safe bet that some who might not have gone cruising ordinarily will reconsider with these new changes.