Cruise lines are increasingly using technology to attract and
entertain passengers. Whether it's media content to help
travelers wind down at the end of the day or smart tech meant to
improve the overall cruise experience, cruise ships are becoming
Being out on the ocean creates some challenges to accessing
technology, which has put cruise ships behind land-based
attractions in terms of digital attractions. Recently, however,
cruise lines have dedicated more resources to increasing the
connectedness of their vessels. Here are five techy trends to
look out for in the cruise industry.
1. Bluetooth Bracelets
One of the most innovative and headline-grabbing new features
that cruise companies are rolling out involves high-tech
wearables. These wristbands or pendants use Bluetooth or near
field communications (NFC) to connect to onboard systems.
These devices provide conveniences to passengers such as the
ability to unlock their door simply by walking up to it. It will
also let staff know where passengers, helping them to determine
when to clean rooms and deliver food to people no matter where
Carnival will send the bracelets to passengers about a month
before their trip to make the check-in process quicker.
The devices also provide a potential new source of income for the
cruise line because travelers can use them to purchase food and
other amenities and play games.
2. Faster Wi-Fi
Cruise ships have been notorious for slow internet in the past
due to the challenges of creating a fast connection on an
isolated boat out on the water. The industry is now beginning to
rise above that reputation.
Cruise ships use satellites for internet access
, which are
inherently slower than the connection you probably use at home.
Improvements in satellite technologies for cruise ships are now
enabling faster connections. Whereas, in the past, going on a
cruise meant disconnecting from the world, passengers can now
watch videos, use social media and use video chat software while
This improved connectivity provides convinces to travelers, but
it also has benefits for the cruise lines. Vacationers usually
must pay to go online and the infrastructure enables other
technology used by staff to function.
3. Smaller Communications Antennas
Along with improved internet speeds, cruise ship communications
antennas are becoming more compact as well. In the past, ships
needed large satellite and antennas that took up space and looked
unsightly. New flat-panel antenna terminals are changing all
These new devices take up less space and can be placed on the
sides of ships as opposed to on the deck, so the space they do
take up wasn't being used anyway. This creates more room for
additional attractions such as a restaurant, bar or area for
entertainment. This benefits passengers by giving them more room
for activities without a decrease in internet speed.
4. Mobile Video Content
We used to only consume video content on the television, but
today we watch it everywhere we go on our laptops, phones and
tablets. We do this at home, but TV remains the only option when
you're on a cruise. Cruise companies are now working to change
The ability to use Netflix and other streaming options on cruise
ships, as well as watch the available onboard movies, from mobile
devices is beginning to show up across the industry. Ships'
enhanced Wi-Fi connections have made this possible.
Video still takes up a lot of bandwidth, however, so challenges
remain. Cruise lines are working on the issue so that they can
meet customer demand and create another additional revenue
source. Soon, it might be entirely possible to catch a movie on
your tablet while lounging on the deck.
Some of the more eye-catching innovations onboard cruises involve
robotics, which can interact with guests and help run the ship.
Royal Caribbean recently introduced what it calls the Bionic Bar.
It doesn't have human bartenders
but instead uses two robotic arms to mix drinks to order
Passengers use tablets located at the bar to tell the bots what
drinks they want and can even create their own concoctions. They
can watch the drinks get made, adding to the excitement of the
In Tokyo in 2014,
Costa Cruises welcomed a new robotic member to their staff
The humanoid bot, named Pepper, entertains guests by playing
games with them, dancing with them and asking them to take
selfies together. The robot can also provide guests with
information on the services available on the ship.
Pepper can even recognize human emotions and initiate
interactions with guests as well as speak three languages -
English, French and Italian.
Although technology is becoming more prevalent on cruise ships,
it isn't likely to take center stage any time soon. Instead, it
will serve as a way to support the ship's attractions and the
natural wonders of the open ocean and seaside destinations - as
well as the occasional escape from reality.