With the leftover turkey finally finished and any alcohol induced headaches from New Year’s Eve (hopefully) recovered from, thoughts naturally turn to what 2016 has in store.
For the upcoming year it’s pretty clear to the www.CRUISE.co.uk team that several, if not most, of the major cruise lines will be trying to attract people who may never have cruised before, with a particular focus on families, Millennials and the ‘gamer’ generation.
Do you agree?
In recent months a raft of new ships and new features for existing ships have been announced by cruise lines which, when considered as a whole, seems to highlight an interesting trend…
As we reported last year, Royal Caribbean have been in the process of turning their fleet into ‘smart ships’ which started with the launch of Anthem of the Seas back in April ’15.
(You can read more about the details of their smart ships in our article Anthem of the Seas For Technophobes).
One of the big selling points of these new smart ships was the superfast Wi-Fi at sea available on them; superfast Wi-Fi not having traditionally been available in the middle of an ocean (as we reported here in July). Since then several cruise lines have also announced high speed, global Wi-Fi for their cruise ships; as internet access is obviously becoming an important deciding factor for people when choosing a cruise line.
It’s not just Wi-Fi that is improving however as a myriad of different cruise lines have been adding technological advancements to their cruise fleets in an effort to outdo each other.
When asked for a comment Nick Weir, vice president of entertainment at Royal Caribbean said: “ lives and technology are seamless… the trick out at sea is using technology to enhance the cruise experience.”
One of the other big announcements of last year for Royal Caribbean’s Quantum class of ships was their robotic bartenders (you can read our exclusive interview with the creators of the bionic bar here) but since then they’ve been completely outdone by Costa Cruises who’ve introduced an actual robotic member of staff to their fleet!
They’ve secured an exclusive agreement with robotic manufacturer Alderbaran which means that from spring of this year Pepper the Robot will be greeting guests on-board the Costa Diadema, with similar robots being unrolled across the fleet by this summer.
Pepper is fitted with four microphones, two HD cameras, a 3D depth sensor and touch sensors in her head and hands. All of this tech means that not only will she be able to greet guests on-board, offer tips on dining venues, events and excursions in English, Italian or German, she’ll also be able to recognise and respond appropriately to guest’s emotional state by reading facial expressions and voice tones. (Costa Cruises have yet to announce if you’ll have to tip her or not though!)
You may remember us reporting last November on the launch of the NCL Escape (if not you can catch up here) which offered a variety of new features and the most prominent of these (for us at least) was the multiple waterslides and rope courses on the top deck. This family friendly entertainment is something that’s appearing more and more on cruise ships with a 10 Storey High Slide just announced for Harmony of the Seas and a simulated sky diving experience already available on both Quantum and Anthem of the Seas.
Perhaps the most topical announcement of 2015 however was by Disney Cruise line. They revealed the news of a full size replica of the Millennium Falcons cockpit to their kids clubs, complete with four scenarios for children to pilot just in time for the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in cinemas. (We’re sorry to tell you though that there’s no adults allowed on this, no matter how big a Star Wars fan you are!). There’s also fully costumed Star Wars characters walking around for photo opportunities (and yes, this time adults can join in!)
What’s your thoughts on the direction cruising is taking? Is it drifting too far from what has traditionally appealed to cruisers? Is that option still available amongst all the ‘bells and whistles’?
Or do you see all these new technological advancements as nothing but a gimmick?
Let us know in the comments below…