Cruise Ship Technologies: from Apps to AI Assistants
The cruise ship industry is growing every year with record-breaking numbers of passengers. In 2018, cruise ships welcomed 26.7 million travellers, according to the 2019 Cruise Industry News Annual Report. This year will see an even larger capacity with 30 million people expected to cruise, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) estimates. This trend pushes cruise lines to make travel experiences hassle-free and more personalised from the booking process and itinerary planning to activities on board. To ensure this, cruises opt to invest in artificial intelligence and automation technologies.
The Texas startup CruiseBe released a chatbot for Messenger that allows clients to talk with a “virtual travel agent” enhanced with Artificial Intelligence (AI). The chatbot can provide information about specific ships, ports and leisure activities on a cruise ship from its aggregated data of 500 ports and 200 ships.
For now, travellers need to know the name of the ship and the departure date to get a link with suggestions for activities. Although, the chatbot can also play games with a user, provide quizzes, share photos or answer questions, In the future, CruiseBe plans to implement machine learning to provide more options for clients, like searching and booking cruises.
To streamline the boarding process, Royal Caribbean Cruises introduced facial recognition software to its Celebrity Edge ship. A combination of a mobile app and sensors on board, the system allows passengers to upload their picture and passport before leaving for the voyage. Once they arrive for the cruise, the facial recognition software scans passengers on the move, shows their face on the screen and after confirmation allows them to continue.
The process is still in its early stages of implementation, but Royal Caribbean believes that once perfected it will be able to check in nearly 3, 000 travellers quickly and efficiently, making the whole boarding process last merely 10 minutes.
Cruise ships are known for their impressive sizes with the biggest ones reaching capacity for more than 6, 000 passengers. Like little cities on the water, these vessels are crammed with shops, restaurants and other leisure activities, making it easy to get lost. Carnival Cruise Lines has developed an innovative Ocean Medallion technology that provides keyless cabin entry, a virtual concierge service and a family-tracking navigation system.
The token that can be worn as a pendant interacts with 7,000 sensors and smart devices on the ship’s decks. Specific to every passenger it can deliver personalised experiences, including easy payment, food delivery and seamless navigation. It helps travellers on cruise ships enjoy all activities on offer without worrying they’re missing out.
Virtual cruise assistant Zoe
Perhaps the most advanced and innovative technology on a cruise ship is the voice-activated digital assistant Zoe on board MSC Bellissima. Using artificial intelligence (AI), Zoe is able to learn and enhance her responses based on real interactions, adding to its already impressive capabilities. The virtual assistant can speak seven languages and is prepared to answer over 800 questions with thousands of different options. Activated by the command “OK Zoe”, it is able to provide information and book on-board services, even suggesting activities and connecting to passenger devices for personal music and podcasts.
Developed by HARMAN and Samsung Electronics, the technology will be installed in every cabin on MSC Bellissima, scheduled to launch in March, and later on other ships such as MSC Grandiosa in 2019 and MSC Virtuosa in 2020.
You can hear more about Zoe and other newest innovations for vessels across the shipping industry at the 2nd Green Maritime Forum in Hamburg on 2 April. Organised by Wisdom Events it will gather key maritime decision-makers, executives and expert speakers, including representatives from MSC Group and CLIA Europe among other high-level professionals in the cruise and other shipping sectors.