Royal Caribbean launches “World’s First Smartship”
With technology that has never been used on cruise ships before, including high-tech “WOWband” bracelets and apps that put everything at passengers’ fingertips, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas has been dubbed “The World’s First Smartship.”
The Quantum’s facilities include high-speed Internet, which enables passengers to interact with a radio frequency identification (RFID) bracelet that keeps them connected to the ship’s network from the moment they step aboard.
These WOWband wristbands manage room access, as well as on board purchases, dining and tour reservations. The rubber-protected bands never demagnetize, moreover.
Passengers who book dining reservations, shore tours and other cruise activities before departure can have that information and all their necessary check-in documents ready and loaded on their RFID bracelets when they arrive. According to Royal Caribbean, the plan is to get guests aboard the ship within 10 minutes.
Adding to the high tech on the high seas, a new app called “Royal IQ” can track the ID, stateroom, preferences and reservations of each guest and provide maps of the ship and its daily schedule of events. Tapping the wristband also allows passengers to interact with “Royal IQ” with hand signals at screens positioned throughout the ship.
The advances are made possible by faster Internet access than that available on other cruise ships, which is facilitated by a network of low-orbit satellites from O3B Networks. These communications satellites maintain geosynchronous orbit closer to Earth than satellites used by other ships and allow Internet signal transmission directly to Quantum.
The O3B Network lets passengers use Skype and play interactive games with people across the world while at sea, a first for cruise ships, according to Royal Caribbean.
The smartship also boasts such novel features as a robotic bartender in a “Bionic Bar” where drinks are ordered on tablets.
For passengers with inside staterooms, the ship offers virtual balconies in the form of large, high-resolution screens that display feeds from cameras mounted on the bow and stern, giving guests the illusion of a real balcony.
“This ship’s combination of ease and flexibility would make a yoga instructor proud,” Royal Caribbean chairman Richard Fain said at a press conference at the shipyard in Papenberg, Germany.
“We were determined to take the best advances in modern technology, turn them into shipboard ‘wows’ and take the frustration out of the vacation,” he added.
The formal launch of Quantum of the Seas is scheduled for the end of next month.
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