Dubbed Excalibur, the program will be device-agnostic, meaning guests will be able to take advantage of the new features using any smart device or one of Royal Caribbeans WOW Bands, which launched in 2015, Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said at a reveal event in New York.
If you want, instead of having a WOW Band, you can use your phone or anything you want that’s connected to the Internet of Things,Fain said.
Excalibur is built on non-proprietary, open-source technology, an approach which will allow the company to maintain it easily and to keep continuously rolling out and testing new features, in order to keep up with ever-changing guest expectations. The company will also be retrofitting its ships with pervasive Wi-Fi in order to provide the bandwidth necessary for the new features.
Constant testing and a gradual rollout will be a key part of Excalibur, using an approach that Fain describes as an expanded universe, as opposed to a big bang – a sudden, all-at-once launch. Many features of Excalibur started to roll out in August, and the company plans to have them implemented on 13 percent of its ships by the end of the year. By the end of 2018, Excalibur should be active on half the companys fleet, and across the companys entire fleet by the end of 2019.Royal Caribbeans future app will let guests order food and drink to be delivered to them anytime, anywhere on board. //
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. SVP Digital Experience Jay Schneider, who is spearheading the new initiative, shared a little more detail on what guests can expect from Excalibur. In addition to new vacation planning features in the companys mobile apps, including virtual reality (VR) videos of shore excursions, the company is also aiming to use Excalibur to streamline the boarding process.
The boarding process is loaded with friction, Schneider said, noting that long lines and paperwork can put a damper on the kickoff to the cruise. Using Excalibur, guests will be able to take a selfie using their smart device, which will be displayed on a digital boarding pass. During boarding, guests will be able to simply walk through a scanner that will use facial recognition technology to automatically check them in, meaning they can go straight to their staterooms without waiting in line. . The system automatically flagged our face and checked off our name on a digital passenger list that was displayed on a nearby screen. As part of the demonstration, Royal Caribbean representatives noted that if a passenger had any uncompleted paperwork, the system would automatically flag them so they could be pulled out of line to finish providing any necessary information. The system will also track guests luggage in real-time, allowing them to always know where their bags are.
Excalibur features on Royal Caribbeans smartphone apps, or the Wow Bands, will allow guests to do a number of other tasks after the cruise is underway. In addition to unlocking stateroom doors, guests will be able to order drinks and have them delivered directly to their location, no matter where they are on the ship. Excalibur will also let guests control their staterooms lighting, temperature and other features from their mobile device, even from outside their stateroom. Guests will also be able to stream content from their devices to their stateroom televisions, including content that is stored locally from their devices or taken from major streaming services. Excalibur will also allow Royal Caribbean to send guests notifications with personalized recommendations for services they can book onboard, such as relaxing treatments for spa lovers.
Excalibur also incorporates a number of augmented reality (AR) features, which allow guests to play games and interact with their environment using their smartphones. In one demonstration a guest was able to point their phone at a poster, which appeared to spring to life on the smartphone screen and become a game the guest could play. In another, called X-ray vision, a guest could point their smartphone at a special area of a wall. A camera behind the wall would project a video to the guests smartphone, providing the illusion that they were looking through the wall just like Superman. Royal Caribbean representatives said that RCCL could use this feature to give guests a behind-the-scenes glimpse of certain areas they couldnt otherwise access for safety or security reasons, such as the galley or engine room.
What about guests who dont have a smartphone, or dont feel like toting one around on their vacation? The Wow Band will continue to provide access to Excalibur features. And were sensitive to the fact that, even if you have your smartphone, some guests want to leave it in their car, Schneider said. Royal Caribbean is even planning to roll out a new version of the Wow Band, dubbed Wow Band 2.0, sometime next year. In addition to new features for guests, Excalibur will also include a number of elements to help the crew provide a smoother experience. Apps for crew will keep track of guest preferences in information, allowing crew to remember items like birthdays and favorite drinks.
A new digital table allows crew to keep track of safety drills and ship systems in real time.
The display allows for the tracking of operations like digital muster drills, allowing bridge crew to see at a glance which guests have failed to check in for muster, and even zoom in on their last known check-in location to aid in tasks like locating missing children.
On the bridge, an augmented reality (AR) display that would help officers navigate during foul weather. During periods of poor visibility due to rain and wind, the windscreen could display an overlay that would highlight important features like channels, land and other ships.
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