In the “Technology and my Passion” series, Edgar Moore and Gretchen Lindquist had written about cruises. They are avid cruisers - they have sailed from Galveston numerous times, from San Juan twice, and additionally from Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, Los Angeles, and Venice. They are Diamond-level members of the Royal Caribbean loyalty program, the Crown and Anchor Society.
Back from a recent cruise on the Navigator of the Seas, I was delighted when Gretchen emailed me some photos from the ship and details on how she has seen patron technology on cruise boats improve since that column six years ago.
“Royal Caribbean has definitely upgraded the IT on the ships, as their CIO Bill Martin had promised a few years ago. The display above showed our position and weather conditions throughout the cruise.
The WIFI offering was much improved over that available on our previous cruises. Whereas last year I had to book WIFI service by the minute and try to guesstimate how many minutes I would need to do a daily post on Facebook via their sluggish connection, I was pleasantly surprised that I was offered an unlimited WIFI connection for the duration of the cruise, and with my Diamond-level member discount, it was definitely less than what I paid last year for much less time. The service did not have the speed of my connection at home, but it was definitely better, and I did not have to worry about dragging a laptop to a hot spot. I could use my smartphone anywhere on the ship.
We also made good use of the touch screen devices on each deck that showed you where you were standing in relation to the deck plan, the choices of dining venues, and activities on right now and upcoming. The cruise photography service also made use of technology for faster and easier service. On prior cruises, the photographs taken on the ship were all printed out and displayed in a gallery, and finding them was a headache. All you had to go by was signage clues (e.g. Main Seating, First Formal Night), requiring that you paw through all the racks of photographs until you found your own, reviewed them, and decided to either purchase or pitch. None of that waste of time and trees on this cruise! The photographer taking your photo would ask your cabin number; when you went down to the photo gallery, you scanned your Sea Pass card, and all of your photos were displayed on a monitor. You also had a choice of buying prints or digital copies.
I should also mention that the discounts and rewards for the loyalty program were previously printed on booklets, which the cruiser had to remember to carry around, tear out and redeem via presenting the bits of paper. Now they are coded into your account, and to claim a reward, you just present your Sea Pass.
One of the staffers mentioned that more technology improvements were coming; on my next cruise, I should have an app to download to my device that will manage everything, so I am already looking forward to that.”