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Cruise Ship Galactica: Science Fiction Becomes Reality

When looking for the trailblazers in tech, you may think about space travel with all the day to day items we now use originally intended for gravityless atmospheres up on the space station, or warfare, be it cyber or the latest missiles. However, quietly having a technological arms race and the cold war of its own is the cruise industry. With over fifty cruise lines now in operation and almost five hundred ships out on the oceans and rivers, there’s never been more competition for your custom. This means cruise companies are vying for pole position when it comes down to value for money, comfort, luxury and, of course, technological innovations.

For decades the technological side of the cruising industry has been its main Achilles’ heel in attracting the next generation of customers. It seems the older core of cruisers doesn’t want a load of fancy ‘gimmicks’. However, nowadays younger people, who will become the next wave of cruisers, want to stay in touch with the outside world, not just switch off and watch the sunset- or at least have the choice. In this department, Royal Caribbean is lightyears ahead of the competition in terms of technology and the cruisers’ onboard experience with their Quantum Class of a ship made up of Quantum, Anthem, Ovation, Spectrum, and the all-new Symphony of the Seas. Let’s take a look and see exactly what is sending these ships at light speed into the future.

Firstly, the hub holding the rest of the pioneering innovations aboard is Royal Caribbean’s new Wi-Fi set up. In the past customers complained about the rip off prices of being able to connect to the web but this was for more reason than to simply milk a captive audience. The truth was that the internet capacity was simply not enough to host everyone’s browsing were they all to be hooked up to the net as they so wished. As a result, R&C simply priced out a majority of the customers so fewer people would use it and the whole system wouldn’t come crashing down under the weight of everyone emailing work and watching cat videos. This may sound simple but the importance couldn’t be stressed enough. In fact, an unbelievable 61% of Iglu Cruise’s customer survey participants said Wi-Fi was the greatest innovation in the cruising industry to-date.

Now, Royal Caribbean has a new Wi-Fi connection system, called Voom, that is six times faster than any other cruise line’s equivalent, bringing in a titanic 6000 megabytes. By jumping from one satellite to the other at regular intervals from anywhere around the world, they are sure they will provide their customers with the best connection available at sea. This means cruisers can not only do the basics in terms of video calling loved ones and surfing the net but also play in the Xbox Live Arcade and stream content from Netflix and Spotify as they would at home.

The Wi-Fi system also supports the modern logistics of the ship and life going on every day in how the ship is run. Customers can check in beforehand at the terminal online, check in their luggage and track it, and pay for add-ons such as meals and drinks with their interactive wristband which also functions as their room key. This results in everything not only running smoothly and quickly but also gives the passengers peace of mind while on their cruise as they can track their bag and not have to worry about lost wallets and key cards.

The stand out example of paying via your wristband is the amazing Bionic Bar. Here you use a tablet to order a drink or create a new one, before paying with your wristband and verifying you are old enough to drink your cocktail. This gets even better, however, as your server is an actual robot!

Adorably named Mixr and Shakr, these pairs of robotic arms straight out of a car manufacturing plant will have you thinking you’ve stumbled onto the set of the latest Star Wars film. Above these mechanical mixologists are 30 spirits and 21 mixers allowing for a total of 127 total combinations or your own unique design. The robots draw a measure then mix, stir, shake, blend, strain and serve your drink for the perfect cocktail just how you like it. When no one wants a drink, these guys keep the party going with some cheeky dance moves. In fact, the designers tracked the movements of a real Italian ballet dancer to ensure these bots had the graceful gestures of a professional choreographer so as not to spill your drink. This would be difficult at the best of times but factor in the moving ship and it’s even more impressive these botty barmen never spill a drop!

In addition, there is even more robot-tech aboard with similar car manufacturing plant arms incorporated into the Broadway-style show. These robots move screens and pan clever laser light shows around the show’s set. The result of which, claimed to be the most complex robotics work outside of NASA, provides a stunning visual display where you’re not sure what is truly before your eyes and what’s simply a very complicated illusion. So complicated, it’s literally rocket science.

From the applause garnered by the cruisers on board as they watch this stunning show and the party-goers socializing by the robot bar (all while showing what a great time they are having on social media), it’s easy to see these cruising innovations are going down a real treat with their audience. From listening to their customers, the result of this state-of-the-art robotics, revolutionary Wi-Fi and the personal interactive wristband is a fantastic mix of ease, security, connectivity and childish fun, for those old enough to drink it, which all adds up to the perfect modern cruise experience.