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Royal Caribbean’s Plan To Reinvent Cruising

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In case you haven’t been paying attention, there’s something of a race going on between the various cruise lines. With an eye on expanding their markets and bringing in younger, tech-loving passengers, the lines are working hard to up their game. And on Wednesday, Royal Caribbean rolled out their Sea Beyond program. The splashy event — held in Brooklyn, NY — introduced believers and skeptics alike to what Royal Caribbean hopes will be the next big thing in cruise technology.

Putting On A Show

From the moment reporters arrived in New York City, it became clear that Royal Caribbean was aiming to impress. There was the self-driving shuttle which Hannah Sampson of Skift reported the line is hoping to eventually roll out as a way of ferrying cruise guests from one place to another in some ports. There was the app on which cocktails could be ordered. And there was the wall of smoke which, like something out of a science fiction movie, greeted arrivals at the event.

Driverless shuttles bring guests to the Duggal Greenhouse entrance for Royal Caribbean’s Sea Beyond event at Duggal Greenhouse at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017, in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Diane Bondareff/ Invision for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd./AP Images) (PRNewsfoto/Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.)

When Richard D. Fain, the chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean, took to the stage, he made it clear that the technology being introduced would impact every aspect of a passenger’s trip. But just as important, the technology had to be very user friendly. “Frictionless is fast, simple, on-demand and integrated,” he said. “This is no longer optional, and is key to the success of any company today.”

How Royal Caribbean Is Changing The Game

In a statement, the line’s senior vice president of digital, Jay Schneider, said that the goal was to zero in on wasted effort and energy, thus “giving guests more time to make the memories that make vacations special.” In fact, he said that they were “building a virtual concierge to provide you any answer or service you need while on vacation.” This will even include the ability to control the environment of your stateroom via your phone.

Added Fain, “People want to collect experiences. In fact,” he added, as if to make perfectly clear who this big technological push is aimed at, “84 percent of millennials want to collect experiences.” Reiterating points made during the previous day’s conference call regarding third quarter earnings, the exec pointed out that people “are buying experiences now, not things. So we are creating ways for them to design vacations rich in made-to-order, memory-making moments, and even providing recommendations based on what they have enjoyed before or shared with us about their preferences.”

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The goal, according to a related press release, is to make it possible 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 [guests] are on arrival.” They will also use the technology to track bags, making it possible to know exactly when your suitcase has arrived in your stateroom. (This should, one presumes, also give them the ability to easily track down misplaced baggage.)
  • ” … sign up for shore excursions, order drinks and make dinner reservations without ever leaving [your] chair by the pool thanks to an intuitive app on a device most [guests] already have… a smartphone.”
  • ” … indulge in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality 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 cafe and digital signs challenge [guests] to play an arcade game.”

A concept for future staterooms imagines floors, ceilings and walls that can change to create a “choose your own environment” capability as seen at Royal Caribbean’s Sea Beyond event at Duggal Greenhouse at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017, in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Diane Bondareff/ Invision for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd./AP Images) (PRNewsfoto/Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.)

Royal Caribbean’s Environmental Goals

Fain also made it clear that technology would be used not only to enhance guest experiences, but to help lessen the impact of their ships upon the environment. “Sustainability matters,” he explained. “Our consumers expect a lighter carbon foot print and for us to source our material responsibly.”

So when, exactly, will all of this technology actually be available to passengers? Fain said that it would “be available on 13 percent of ships by the end of 2017, 50 percent by the end of 2018 and fleetwide by the end of 2019.”

How important is technology — including the ability to stay connected — when you cruise? 

 

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Carnival Cruise Line Reverses Unpopular Pricing Decision

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Yesterday, we reported that Carnival Cruise Line had boosted the price of their new Pixel photo packages… a decision which proved wildly unpopular. And in response to their loyal passengers complaining, Carnival has reversed the decision! There is, however, a modification being made to the program.

The New/Old Prices

“Effective today,” wrote Brand Ambassador John heald on his popular Facebook page, “Pixels pre-cruise photo packages are returning to their introductory pricing. To balance the strong popularity of the most premium package with the onboard photo center resources, there will be a cap on the number of copies guests can order of their unlimited photos to a maximum of 50 prints or 50 digital files. The other two packages remain the same.”

He added that another change would be made by popular request. “We are now making these packages available to guests onboard on embarkation day only at special rates.” Those who pre-purchased the package at the higher rate will be given an onboard credit for the difference in price. “We will also honor the original Pixels Plus Digital package for those who purchased it before today,” he added.

 

Pixels Digital Photo Gallery onboard Carnival Horizon

“We appreciate our guests’ feedback,” he concluded, “and are happy that we can provide the great opportunity to preserve their cruise memories with photo packages that meet their needs. So there you go!”

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Although the website had not yet been updated to reflect the change when Heald made the announcement, the original pricing on the packages was as follows, with the onboard-purchase price he mentioned listed as well.

  • Pixels: This package offers prints of 5 of your best photographs, plus 1 16” by 20” canvas portrait at a cost of $99.99. (The embarkation day price will be $119.98.)
  • Pixels Plus: With this package, you can choose as many of your favorites as you like and have them printed at a cost of $199.99. (The embarkation day price will be $239.98.)
  • Pixels Plus Digital: This option offers you all of the prints of your favorite photographs, plus a souvenir USB stick containing high-resolution digital versions of the pictures, and runs $249.99. (The embarkation-day price will be $299.98.)

Those picking the Pixels option have until the final sea day of their voyage to pick the five prints they want to have made. Passengers who purchase a package will receive a Pixels gift ticket, which will be left in their stateroom. That ticket can then be taken to the photo gallery for redemption (which must be done within two days of boarding).

 

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Could Free Wi-Fi Be Coming To Carnival Cruise Line?

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Gone are the days when people tried to completely disconnect while on vacation. Now, one of the things cruisers look for when planning a trip is how easily they’ll be able to stay connected… and how much it will cost! But is the idea of free wi-fi for everyone on board even a possibility, given both the technical aspects and cost prohibitions? In a recent interview, a Carnival exec suggested that might not be as far-fetched as it currently seems!

Connecting The Dots

In talking to Cruise Industry News, Reza Rasoulian, Carnival’s vice president of global connectivity (aka their internet guru), addressed some of the questions and issues all of the cruise lines are currently dealing with. And make no mistake: keeping passengers connected is something that all of the major cruise lines are interested in doing for numerous reasons. Not only is it something that their customers increasingly demand, but it also creates an avalanche of free advertising as passengers use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to make everyone back home jealous!

Guests want to be able to connect from wherever they are on a ship… including the Carnival Sunshine’s atrium!

 

“There’s a lot of great ideas out tehre,” Rasoulian told the site. “We are on a great trajectory as an industry, because we need to change the conversation and make sure connectivity isn’t a problem.”

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But could this ultimately mean putting an end to wi-fi packages in favor of access being included in the price of a cruise? “We know that there are cruise lines offering it now,” he admits, “but the ships are small, 300 guests, so that’s a whole different equation. Scale is a factor, but we need to provide a situation where there’s no friction. Maybe it will happen in five or 10 years as a collaborative process.”

Michael Bayley, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, echoed that sentiment when speaking to the press during the rollout of the line’s newest and biggest ship, Symphony of the Seas. “The theory is that over the next five to 10 years, as the technology improves, the cost of internet is going to start decreasing significantly. So I think at some point, when the cost becomes more sensible, then it will [probably be] something that will convert into free internet and Wi-Fi for our customers.”

Why Wi-Fi Is So Important

In February, Carnival Corporation tested its MedallionNet Wi-Fi on Princess Cruise Line’s Regal Princess in an effort to, as Chief Experience and Innovation officer John Padgett explained, “demonstrate that guests can have a connected experience that parallels land-based Wi-Fi.”

Over the past few years, the cruise industry has made major strides in reaching out to younger cruisers. But the executives behind the scenes know that in order to convince many gadget-addicted millennials to trade traditional land-based vacations for ones on the high seas, they must provide the kind of connectivity they demand. It’s a tall order, and one the cruise lines take very seriously… as evidenced by the fact that Carnival’s newest ship, the Carnival Horizon, even comes with a Wearable Tech outlet staffed by employees who can not only sell you the latest fitness tracking devices, but show you how to use them.

“One of the conscious decisions we continue to make is that we are not standing still,” says Rasoulian. “We want to continue to evolve.” Which would seem to indicate that when it comes to cruising, free Wi-Fi is more a matter of when than if!

Do you purchase a wi-fi package when you cruise? How important is it that you be able to stay connected to folks back home?

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Cunard Guests to be First to Board Queen Elizabeth 2 Hotel

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Dubai will welcome the most famous ocean liners in the world when the arrival of Queen Mary 2 coincides with the opening of the Queen Elizabeth 2 hotel.

Guests traveling on QM2 will have the opportunity to join local media and VIPs at the opening of the QE2 hotel on April 18. Future guests will also be able to visit when Queen Mary 2 returns to Dubai in January and April 2019 as part of her World Voyage.

Queen Elizabeth 2 in Trondheim, Norway in 2006. – photo: Kallemax/English Wikipedia

Queen Elizabeth 2 was launched by Her Majesty the Queen in 1967 and was the Cunard flagship liner until she relinquished the role to Queen Mary 2 in 2004. She undertook 25 world cruises and crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times, carrying over 2.5 million passengers. QE2 is now owned by PCFC Hotels – part of the Dubai government’s Ports, Customs, and Free Zones Corporation and will reside permanently at Mina Rashid, Dubai.

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Visit the hotel’s website here.

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Hi, this may be of interest to you: Royal Caribbean’s Plan To Reinvent Cruising. This is the link: https://cruiseradio.net/royal-caribbean-introduces-new-tech/