The airline industry could take a few tips from the cruise industry to improve customer service.
Not only do you get a lot more personal space on a cruise, but the technology found on cruise ships is getting more useful with each new ship.
For example, even with over 4,000 passengers and their luggage to get onboard its new Quantum of the Seas, RCCL promises to get you from the sidewalk to the ship in 10 minutes or less. Good luck doing that at the airport.
Here are a few of the technology innovations on RCCL's new Quantum of the Seas, the first of three ships in its class, and without a doubt the most technologically advanced ship afloat.
1. Sidewalk to Ship in Ten Minutes
You check in online. Instead of waiting in a long line to have your ID photo taken, fill out forms, and get your stateroom keys, you take a selfie, load it to the online check-in website, fill out your passport info, and then print out a boarding pass. You show the boarding pass at security, proceed to your stateroom where you'll find your keys. The goal is "sidewalk to ship" in ten minutes, and it really does work.
2. "WOW" Wristbands Replace Key Cards
Not only will you find the usual key card to open your door, get on and off the ship, and pay for onboard purchases, but you'll also get a wristband (called a WOWband) that performs all the functions of a room key and more. Strap it on your wrist and you'll never have to fumble to find your key, or have it demagnetize if it comes in contact with your credit cards. It's waterproof so you can wear it while splashing around in the pools and hot tubs. Very clever.
3. High(er)-speed internet
The Quantum uses a new type of satellite that tracks the ship's movement and hovers lower in the sky than other satellites used for Internet access, so it's faster and more reliable. Maybe not exactly what you might have at home, but comparable to a DSL line. There's also WiFi throughout the ship, with no dead spots.
4. Tablet-equipped staff
Wherever you go, crew members have tablets to provide information or speed you through check-in for dinner reservations and other functions. When you show up for a meal, staff greet you, ask for your cabin number, and direct you to your table. So there's less waiting in line. In dining venues, waiters take your order on tablets and send them directly to the kitchen, speeding up service.
5. Royal iQ app
Compatible with iOS and Android devices, this app lets you plan, change, and share your schedule (spa appointments, dinner reservations, shore excursions, etc.) while on ship. And speaking of devices, all cabins now come with USB charging ports. In addition, there are 45 iQ stations around the ship that interact with your WOWband and provide information about your schedule and the ship. And you can call or text other app users onboard.
6. Radio frequency ID luggage tracking
RFID luggage tags, in combination with the Royal iQ app, let you track the progress of your luggage from dockside to stateroom. No more guessing when your bags will arrive.
And for a bit of whimsy, the ship has two robotic bartenders. Guests order drinks via a tablet and the robots get busy mixing cocktails. You have to see (and drink) it to believe it. And no tipping is expected.