InformationWeek spoke with Royal Caribbean's Chief Information Officer Bill Martin about how the cruise line uses iPads aboard its cruise ships. For a while now, Royal Caribbean has offered iPads for guest use in select suite staterooms.
The iPads let guests order room service, make reservations for events on and off the ship, watch movies from the onboard movie library, and receive customized offers for onboard spas and restaurants.
Martin spoke about how currently Royal Caribbean opts to swap out iPads in the same way they change bed sheets. The "old" iPad is swapped out for a fresh one that is ready to go, while the "old" iPad is taken to an IT office onshore and completely re-imaged. This is done to ensure any photos or changes made by the previous guest aren't seen by the next guest.
Martin indicated that while this operation is sufficient for now, the cruise line wants to eliminate offering iPads and instead develop apps for guest use.
"So many people have these now. And we're starting to see other mobile devices come into the picture, not just Apple's" Martin said.
Royal Caribbean wants to provide the app only and for all devices, including iPads, Kindles or Android.
Martin has been relying on outside developers for tablet apps and development. But the company is "going to have to bring some of that in house," he says, so that it doesn't have to contract outside for every project and can call a vendor's bluff when needed.
Martin also talked about the need for WiFi throughout the ship and for better onboard internet. He acknowledges that 75 cents per minute for internet "sounds ridiculous" so Royal Caribbean's recent deals with O3b will help with that problem as well.