Technology is going to affect our cruise experience more than ever. In this article, we’re looking at how technology will change our cruising experience and looking a little bit into what happens if passengers don’t adopt these new procedures.
What Technology Will we See on Cruise Ships of The Future?
Smartphone apps will become increasingly popular and will be used for a range of onboard activities. Virtual muster drills and online check-in will also become more widely used. On some cruise lines, guests will be able to be tracked and traced using wearable technology.
We all know that on cruise ships are the future, we’re going to see mask-wearing.
We’re going to see social distancing.
We’re gonna see increased cleaning.
But what are the cruise lines going to do about things like muster drills, air conditioning, and tracking and tracing all of their passengers?
Technology provides the answers.
Smart Phone Apps
Passengers will be able to use their smartphones for more things than ever before. Ordering drinks, reading menus, and booking shows on apps will be encouraged by a lot of the cruise lines.
Coca-Cola has just released an app, which allows people to use their soda machines without touching the buttons.
Some cruise lines do have self-service the soda machines. So wouldn’t be surprised if this or something similar was implemented on cruise ship soon.
To use the machine, you scan a QR code on your phone, and then you just press the button of whatever soda you would like.
For the time being these soda stations on cruises may just be closed but guests do like pouring their own soda. So I think that this could be a good solution.
Many of the Royal Caribbean cruise ships do have Coca-Cola soda machines. So I could see this being implemented on cruises going forward.
The Future of Muster Drills
On a cruise, it is a legal requirement for all of the passengers to attend what is called a muster drill. To learn more about muster drills, and what happens if you don’t attend, check out this post: What is a Muster Drill on a Cruise? Everything You Need to Know
It’s basically a safety drill where the passengers learn how to put on a life jacket, where to go in the case of an emergency, and general health and safety-related things.
Traditionally, muster drills are done by gathering together all guests into their assigned muster station. This means hundreds or thousands of guests grouped together in one place, which is not really very good when you’re trying to social distance.
Royal Caribbean has just released an alternative, which is called Muster 2.0.
Muster 2.0 is a virtual way to do a muster drill, which doesn’t require everybody to physically go to the muster station at the same time.
What happens is you’ll see videos, prerecorded videos on your phone, or stateroom TV, which you do have to watch.
There’s a certain time by which you have to watch these videos and then you have to physically go to your muster station so that the crew can confirm that you have been there and that you’ve watched the videos.
This is currently only for Royal Caribbean, but Norwegian cruise lines do have a similar license Norwegian and Royal Caribbean have actually been working together throughout this to try and make cruising as safe and fun as possible.
Muster drills are one of the busiest points on a cruise and then eliminating this reduces the risk of any potential virus spread.
If a virtual drill cannot be conducted, passengers may still have to go physically to a muster drill. But if we do see that happening, it will probably be smaller groups than what we’re used to.
On some cruise lines, the process of embarkation will get easier with online and mobile check-in which should reduce the amount of time that passengers have to spend checking in.
On some cruise lines like Celebrity, guests are already able to check-in by loading a scan of their ID and a photo of them.
Then when they get to the port, facial recognition is used and guests are free to board the ship pretty much straight away.
I’ve personally, never had much luck trying to check-in for a cruise on an app. I tried to check-in for my last MSC cruise on an app and it just wouldn’t accept my photo, but hopefully going forward, cruise lines will be putting more effort into that apps fixing any bugs and things, because they’re going to want as many people as they can to use the app.
It’s so much easier for a cruise line to let them passengers do more of the work by checking themselves in.
It reduces the amount of time that the guests have to spend embarking, which is good and also reduces the amount of time that the crew has to spend with the guests, which is good for social distancing.
What About Guests Who Don’t Use Phones?
If you have somebody who’s not very techie who is worried about this, worried that you’re not gonna be able to embark on a cruise because you can’t complete these things on your phone or online before you go, don’t worry.
You’ll still have some way to check-in manually, but you’ll probably just find that there’s going to be a reduced number of check-in desks actually at the port because of the majority of people would have already done most of the work before they get to the port.
It is very easy for a cruise line to change, to use a digital menu instead of a physical paper menu.
In the future, we’ll probably just see QR codes, on the tables in the restaurants and in the buffet.
This has already happened on some cruises that have been sailing recently, on the Mein Schiff 2, which cruised a couple of weeks ago, there were QR codes in the buffet.
You simply scan it with your phone and then the menu comes up on your phone.
Connection to The WiFi
It is worth noting that you do have to be connected to the ship’s internet so that it can get that information to you, but you don’t have to pay for a Wi-Fi package in order to be able to use it.
It just needs to know that you’re on the ship so that you can get that information.
Can You Order Through The Apps?
At the moment guests will only be able to look at the menu on their phones, but realistically, I think we can see apps where you can actually order your food through the app.
This is already available to an extent on a few cruise lines, but I think it makes a lot of sense to roll this out further.
I think we’re going to see more and more of this. I personally love being able to look at the menus on apps before I cruise.
I’ve genuinely been on cruises before and seen a different menu with something I would prefer and I’ve changed my evening plans just based on me looking at the menu earlier in the day.
I’m very, very happy to have menus on my phone.
I know a lot of people are not happy with this and if you’re someone like that who doesn’t want to look at the menu on your phone, don’t worry, there’s always going be some paper menus.
If this does happen, I know many people will miss seeing the interaction of ordering through the waiters, but it should make the waiter’s jobs easier. If they don’t have to focus on handing out menus and taking orders.
It might also speed up dinner service because the orders, if we do get to order on our phones, will be sent straight to the kitchen.
Will There Still be Paper Menus?
I know some people love using cruising as a kind of digital detox. They love to leave their phones at home or their phones in the cabin. There will still be paper menus available.
It’s unclear at the moment if the cruise lines will have to print a new paper menu for every meal for every guest, if they do, I would suggest that you look on a phone, if you can, you don’t necessarily have to have your own phone.
If somebody within your cruise policy has a phone, I would use their phone. I would prefer to look at the menu on their phone rather than make the cruise line print paper menus for every meal, for every guest. That just seems very wasteful to me.
That is very easy for me to say, though, I use my phone all the time. I use it as a camera when I’m on a cruise. So it’s very rarely out of reach of me using my phone at dinner is not a problem.
I do take pictures of my food. I am one of those people, I put them all on Instagram. If you’re not already following me on Instagram check out Emma Cruises, I share everything on there, everything cruise related.
The cruise line will also be encouraging passengers to use apps, to book things like specialty meals or theater shows.
MSC returning to cruising very soon and they’re only allowing 50% capacity in the theaters and guests are very strongly encouraged to wear masks.
What they’re actually planning on doing is showing the same show two days in a row so that everybody does have the chance to see the show.
It’s very, very easy to book an MSC show on the app. The MSC app is very easy to use and it is my favorite…
You can book shows with just the click of a button and you can also cancel them too if you do change your mind.
Passengers will still be able to book using the phone or using the cabin TV, but I’ve always found the app to be just an easier way.
The more that people can do on apps, it just reduces the amount of time that the crew and the passengers have to interact and therefore it limits the potential spread of any kind of virus.
What About The Cruise Lines That Don’t Have Apps?
This does raise a question for me about the cruise lines that don’t have apps.
The majority do Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival Princess. Most of the big cruise lines do have apps, but some of them are still lagging behind.
For me here in the UK, the one that immediately springs to mind is P&O cruises.
P&O cruises are our biggest cruise line here in the UK, and they don’t have an app at all.
On my last P&O cruise, I couldn’t even check my balance on the TV. I had to physically go to reception to get a print out of my own board account, which was really, really strange. That’s something I haven’t done in years.
I’m not sure how cruise lines like P&O are gonna be able to deal without having an app. Really is time to get an app P&O.
Track and Trace Technology
Over the last few years, a number of cruise lines have been fitting out their cruise ships with some incredible tech, great examples of this are the Ocean Medallion from Princess and the MSC for Me technology.
Although they didn’t know it at the time, these bits of tech will be incredibly helpful to get us back to cruising.
What both products do is that they allow guests to be located on the ship and to use their phones, to order things like drinks.
This technology, although designed for things like ordering drinks and helping parents to locate their kids, it will be used forward to track and trace the guests.
When they were building Sky Princess, in order to install Ocean Medallion technology, Princess needed to fit 8,000 sensors and 4 million feet of cables across every single deck of the ship.
The technology means that Princess does have some of the best Wi-Fi at sea because we have cables literally all over the ship.
What Will Cruise Lines do With This Technology?
The cruise lines, won’t be tracking passengers in real-time.
They don’t care how much time you’ve spent in a bar, but what they do care about is who you in there.
If there was a Coronavirus outbreak, they would be able to locate who had spent time with who and inform them.
MSC has said that they are planning on using this MSC for Me technology for this purpose. But that all of the data will be deleted afterward.
Realistically, I think if somebody on the cruise does get Coronavirus, everybody is going to have to quarantine, regardless of if they’ve spent time near the person in question, but wearable tech like Ocean Medallion and MSC for Me does have other uses too.
The cruise line will be able to see if everybody is in the same bar. If everybody is in the same place at the pool deck, in theory, they can go up there and say, “Guys, spread out.”
Can Other Cruise Lines Catch up?
It actually took Princess around four years to design, make, and implement Ocean Medallion.
So it definitely isn’t an easy feat and it isn’t something that the other cruise lines can just catch up on now.
A big concern that many people have about cruising it’s around the subject of air conditioning.
At the start of the pandemic, the Diamond Princess quarantine guests to their cabins in the hope that it would stop the spread of the virus. It didn’t and it seems like the virus was spread through the air conditioning.
Traditionally on cruises, the air conditioning does use a lot of recycled air. So the same air will go through multiple places. We’re not going to see that anymore.
Air Conditioning Coronavirus Cruise Case Study
There was actually a very interesting study done here in the UK into the infection rates of Coronavirus.
What they did was they looked at people who had stayed in cabins, where there had previously been positive Coronavirus cases compared to people who stayed in cabins when there had never been a Coronavirus case there.
What they were expecting to see was that the people who stayed in the cabins that had previously had Coronavirus in them would have more infection rates, but they didn’t.
They both had exactly the same.
They did conclude that the Coronavirus was being spread through the air conditioning.
Cruise lines are very aware of this risk. And they’re very aware of the public’s perception of this risk.
As a result, with every return to cruising plan from every cruise line, the subject of air conditioning has been talked about.
MSC’s Air Conditioning Promise
MSC has said that in their cabins and public areas, they’re going to have 100% fresh air with no recirculation.
That air will be sanitized using UVC light technology, which kills 99.7% of microbes, very cool.
Where it isn’t possible to have 100% fresh air, the cruise lines are going to be including new filters in their air conditioning systems.
Costa has done this on all of their cruise ships that are set to sail soon.
Having your temperature scanned on a cruise ship is going to become as common as having your photo taken.
When you embark, disembark, and go into a restaurant or buffet, you’re gonna have your temperature scanned.
The scanning machines make having your temperature taken extremely easy. All that you need to do is look at the machine.
Temperature scans could possibly even be carried out on a crowd if the technology does get more accessible.
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