I’ve done a couple of posts already about Quantum of the Seas (hereinafter ‘QotS’) – here’s a link to them. But now there’s a lot of coverage of the various automation facilities that will be on her (and presumably her sister, Anthem of the Seas). These seem to consist of:-
- on-line checkin, which (if you’ve done it right) promises the passenger progress from ‘sidewalk to stateroom’ in 10 minutes;
- luggage tracking, via a mobile app and RFID (Radio-frequency identification) tags on your luggage, so you can check its progress from “sidewalk to ship to stateroom”. No need to wait in your cabin (sorry, ‘stateroom’) for your luggage to arrive; instead you can hang out in the bar! (Val and I do that already….);
- a “re-imagined cruise planner” that you can use to plan your cruise – make restaurant reservations, spa reservations, excursion bookings on your computer or tablet before you leave home. The whole point of this is to “get the first day of your vacation back”. You can also change your arrangements when you board, either via the mobile app or by using “self-service platforms we call Royal iQ”. Basically, the video mock-up makes these look like stations where the tablets are set up. I wonder – does this mean that it will become really hard to speak to a real person?
- They are making great play about another use of RFID, that of being able to make purchases and even enter the cabin simply by waving a wrist-band (actually, therefore, waving your wrist) near a sensor. Trouble is, the wrist-band looks clunky and horrible. As someone on another blog-site said, it will look really awful with an evening gown. But perhaps Royal Caribbean aren’t expecting passengers to be wearing evening gowns – not even the women;
- Greatly enhanced bandwidth for on-line access while on a cruise. How much extra bandwidth? – “more bandwidth than every other cruise ship in the world combined”. That’s a heck of a claim. The bandwidth is provided by a cloud of satellites in low orbit. Unfortunately for those of us in northern (or indeed southern) waters, the satellite provider’s coverage only extends from 45ºN to 45ºS, and the UK lies at at least 50ºN. Here’s a link to O3b’s webpage (they’re the satellite provider) showing their coverage. I also covered this in one of the QotS posts I did previously. So QotS passengers won’t be able to “Tweet, Skype, stream movies … even play Xbox live with gamers worldwide” while in UK waters… They describe it as a Quantum Leap, and it’s just the pedant in me that wants to remind them that a Quantum Leap is actually the smallest change that’s discernible;
- A robot bartender! (I really don’t know what to say about this one);
- a virtual balcony for an inside cabin;
- robotic dancing screens (!) in an entertainment venue;
- All crew members will get a personal tablet, to keep, and this will allow them to keep in touch with home. That’s good, but I see that the tablets will be running Windows RT. Come one! – they could have been given iPads or Samsung Galaxy Tabs!
Am I becoming a grumpy old man? A stick-in-the-mud? Do I want to say “Bah! Humbug!” Well, perhaps yes. (Though not to the second point – I work in IT, hands-on a battery of Linux servers, so I do think I have some technical grasp.) But none of this is appealing. What happened to, you know, cruising? Or isn’t that done anymore?
Here’s the link to a YouTube video with all the details. Enjoy!