Smart phone app

6 cool features coming to Royal Caribbean's new smartphone app

In:
Category: 
17Nov2017

Royal Caribbean made big headlines with their recent tech announcement that will usher in a new generation of smart technology to enhance the guest experience. At the heart of this new initiative is a brand new smart phone app that the company has been working on in earnest to provide a seamless experience online.

The new app is packed with features, and we picked our six important ones you should be aware of before using it.

6. Track your luggage

With the new app, guests can see exactly where their luggage is on embarkation day to know precisely when it has been delivered to their stateroom.

This feature means you do not have to play the game of walking back to your room on a number of occasions to see if luggage has been delivered.  Instead, simply open the app and follow the luggage's status, just like you would a package in the mail.

5. Book shore excursions and dining reservations

From the palm of your hand, you can manage your shore excursions and dining reservations onboard your Royal Caribbean ship.  This is great for when you are at the pool, breakfast table, or milling about in your stateroom and have your family around to make a decision.  Open the app, select the option you want and you are all set.

The new app means guests can quickly manage their onboard and on shore plans without making a trip to Guest Services, or anywhere else onboard.  This means less lines to wait in, and no restaurant phone extensions to look up.

4. Chat with friends

A really common question we get asked is how to stay in contact with friends and family on a Royal Caribbean ship.  The new Royal Caribbean app will allow for easy text communication, and no internet plan is required.

Unlike Royal Caribbean's previous smart phone app, Royal iQ, there is no additional cost to use the texting feature in the app.  This means everyone can easily communicate onboard and synch up.

3. Interactive Cruise Compass

Carrying around a paper copy of all of the events and remembering to pack a highlighter is so twentieth century.  With Royal Caribbean's app, you can easily see what events and activities are occurring onboard.

Moreover, you can add any Cruise Compass entry to your own personal calendar, so you never forget which events you wanted to check out.

2. Board the ship even faster

Royal Caribbean wants to streamline the check-in process to the point that it is as simple as walking in.  Forget the forms to fill out, pictures to take, or agents to speak with.  The new app will allow for a "frictionless check-in" that gets you onboard your ship very quickly.

Royal Caribbean is utilizing technologies ranging from facial recognition to RFID tagging to GPS mapping to Bluetooth-enabled beacons to streamline boarding, manage check-ins automatically and improve wayfinding.

This means other than the security check, there are no lines to stand in.

1. Order drinks to delivered to you

By far the most intriguing feature of the new app is the option to order beverages and have them delivered to wherever you happen to be seated or standing.

You simply order the drink from the app, and the bar staff use software on their end to triangulate your position.  The waiter has a photo of you that you took when you set up the app, so it is easy enough to track you down and deliver your drink.

This means there is no more trying to flag down a waiter, or squirm your way to the bar in hopes of getting an order in among other guests competing to do the same.

Which feature are you most excited about to use? Let us know in the comments below!

Royal Caribbean expands new smartphone app to Oasis of the Seas

In:
05Oct2017

UPDATE: The app has been updated again and Oasis of the Seas references have been removed. Support for Oasis of the Seas will come in "a few weeks".

The latest version of Royal Caribbean's new smartphone app that is under development has been expanded to work on Oasis of the Seas.

Version 1.1.0 of the Royal Caribbean App was released, which expands functionality and makes it work on Oasis of the Seas, in addition to Allure of the Seas.

The new app version includes a few new features:

  • Learn about the hundreds of activities, movies, and shows available onboard
  • Explore off-ship adventures in places like the Bahamas, St. Thomas, Cozumel, and more
  • Peruse complete restaurant, bar, and lounge options
  • Plan a day of indulgence with our array of Vitality at Sea Spa offerings
  • Use deck plan illustrations to navigate the ship

Additionally, the daily planner is easier to navigate, and added a daily ticker with port, weather, and sunrise/ sunset information.

The app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

New Royal Caribbean smartphone app spotted for use on Allure of the Seas

In:
12Aug2017

Browsing the iTunes App Store has revealed a new smartphone app that is only supported currently on Allure of the Seas.

The Royal Caribbean app was released on August 10, 2017 and might be part of the highly anticipated new smartphone app promised as part of a new digital strategy refresh.

The app description describes the new app as a new, official app for the cruise line, "The new, official Royal Caribbean mobile app gives our guests all the information they need to make the most of their cruises. We’re introducing it on Allure of the Seas®, and as we test and adjust this new app, we’ll gradually roll it out across our entire fleet."

The app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

The current version features include

  • Learn about the hundreds of activities, movies, and shows available onboard
  • Explore off-ship adventures in places like the Bahamas, St. Thomas, Cozumel, and more
  • Peruse complete restaurant menus and bar and lounge options
  • Plan a day of indulgence with our array of Vitality Spa offerings
  • Use deck plan illustrations to navigate the ship

Royal Caribbean has been hinting at a new app ever since Royal Caribbean CIO Michael Giresi mentioned it in an interview in January 2017. Since then, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain has referenced it during earnings calls with analysts, but feature sets have not been divulged.

Dubbed internally as, "Project Excalibur," this new app will offer new ways for guests to have a simpler experience onboard.

"Starting over two years ago, we have found intuitive digital applications to make the guest experience simpler and more comfortable," Fain announced during the an earnings call earlier this year. "You'll be able to open the door to your room without pulling out a card or a key, request a beverage real-time from the comfort of your lounge chair, and get recommendations for your traveling companion based on their preferences."

"We take our guest vacation time seriously, and technology is a great enabler to improve the use of that."

6 interesting facts from Royal Caribbean's second quarter earnings call

In:
01Aug2017

Each quarter, Royal Caribbean's management gets on the phone with investors to discuss its quarterly earnings.  Much of the call is dedicated to the discussion of rather uninteresting fiscal reports, however, there are a number of tidbits that Royal Caribbean fans can glean during the discussion.

During Royal Caribbean's second quarter 2017 earnings call with investors, we picked up on five interesting points worth noting.

New trend: People are buying memories

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain started off the earnings call with an observation on the changing ways consumers are spending their money.  A strong cruise market seems to suggest to Mr. Fain that consumers have less they need to buy, and are instead investing in their memories.

"People have bought all the stuff that they need, and they're now looking towards gaining more experiences. Instead of buying TVs and cars, they seem to be buying memories as never before. Since we're in an industry that specializes in providing great memories, that trend plays to our sweet spot. Even better, the trend shows no respect for borders and seems to be occurring all around the world.  Our sailings in the U.S., Europe, Alaska, Asia, all demonstrate this fabulous phenomenon."

Smart phone app update

Royal Caribbean provided another sneak peek at what it's working on for its new smart phone app and digital strategy, dubbed internally as Project Excalibur.

While no additional information was provided in terms of what Project Excalibur will do, Richard Fain did provide an idea of how many ships will have the new feature ready for use. 

"We expect to have Excalibur functioning on 15% of our fleet within in 5 months of today, and half of our fleet by the end of next year."

Moreover, Fain elaborated on the importance of developing Project Excalibur to the long-term sustainability of the cruise line, "I've said before that our efforts in this arena are not nice to have, they are vital to keeping cruises relevant as a great vacation experience."

Price Integrity Policy rewarding those that book early

Richard Fain provided an update on its no last-minute price drop efforts, known as the Price Integrity Policy.

"As we have predicted, the early stages cost us revenue in both 2015 and 2016.  That hurt, but once we established our consistency and credibility with the travel agents, with the public, and with our own revenue managers, the benefits started flowing in.  Today, it's clearer that the program is accomplishing our goal of rewarding those who book early, while disincentivizing those who push for last minute discounts."

"The key to this consistency has been consistency. We don't do it only when it's painless or convenient. We maintain the program, even when it hurts, and sometimes, we have to let cabins sail empty. That goes against every one of our instincts. But the focus and the discipline have proven their value."

"Ironically, the program has been so successful, that we're now expecting to achieve a record load factor this year. That in turn, causes slightly higher operating costs per lower berth, but obviously, the bottom line impact is very positive."

Strategy of premium hardware in China

Earlier this year, Royal Caribbean announced the first Quantum Ultra class ship will be sailing in China, and that is in line with the cruise line's plan to bring new and impressive ships to sail from China. 

Fain explained, "With the Quantum Class of ships, we're giving the most technologically advanced hardware to a market that is very digitally focused. This move is a continuation of our strategy to have premium hardware in China.  And that strategy is what has enabled us to gain, and to hold, a leadership position in the eyes of the Chinese consumers, such that today, Quantum is essentially synonymous with cruising in China."

North American passengers are cruising more than ever

Cruisers from the United States and Canada have always been a strong source of Royal Caribbean's market, but the cruise line is seeing even higher demand for its cruise products from North American consumers.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty elaborated as to how North Americans are cruising now more than ever, "North America remains our largest sourcing market, and the strength and demand we have seen from U.S. and Canadian guests have been unwavering for both sides of the Atlantic."

"While we most itineraries have benefited from strength of the North American consumer, we have seen particularly strong trends on European sailings, both in the Mediterranean and the Baltics. Fewer geo-political events and stable air pricing have contributed to a surge in demand from our higher paying North American guests. As a result, North American guests will account for a larger percentage of Europe itinerary sourcing than in any other recent year."

"The North American consumer does not only spend more on the ticket, but they also spend quite a bit more on the ships, and the driver of that has to do with the shore excursion side, because it's more of a bucket list vacation experience for them.  So they tend to more onboard than the European guest. It's a more profitable opportunity for us if we are sourcing more North American guests versus European guests. As the North American consumer is eating up a lot of that capacity, that also puts the European consumer in a position where they have to spend more in order to get onto the ships."

Royal Caribbean's marketing strategy targets those new to cruising and Millennials (and it's working)

It is no secret that Royal Caribbean (and really the entire cruise industry) has been targeting those that have never taken a cruise before, but we got a bit of insight into Royal Caribbean's marketing strategy in today's earnings call.

Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley elaborated how the cruise line targets the American cruise market, "We have been quite focused on developing the new to cruise and the Millennial market, and we've have been making very good progress over the past couple of years.  If you look back over time, you'd see a decrease year over year in new to cruise and Millennial to Royal Caribbean International, but over the past two years, we've seen a good increase.  Part of that's related to our messaging and our marketing strategy, where we've moved from really traditional marketing to more digital, and we're seeing a good pickup from new to cruise."

Royal Caribbean retires mobile app for iOS

In:
Category: 
18May2017

Royal Caribbean sent an update to users that its current smartphone app for iOS devices is being retired.

The app was updated in the iTunes App Store on May 17, 2017, with the notice, "Unfortunately, this Royal Caribbean App is being retired and will no longer be supported. Make sure to visit our mobile experience on RoyalCaribbean.com to book your next adventure and stay informed when you're on the go."

The official Royal Caribbean app was rarely updated, with just one update in all of 2016 and a few updates in 2015.

While not confirmed, it is believed retiring the current Royal Caribbean app may be the precursor to the release of the new smart phone app that Royal Caribbean is actively developing. According to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain, the new smart phone app should be out sometime this summer.

Thanks to Jason Percival Sr. and Marc Schwartz for alerting us to this app change.

5 interesting facts from Royal Caribbean's first quarter earnings call

In:
28Apr2017

Each quarter, Royal Caribbean's management gets on the phone with investors to discuss its quarterly earnings.  Much of the call is dedicated to the discussion of rather uninteresting fiscal reports, however, there are a number of tidbits that Royal Caribbean fans can glean during the discussion.

During Royal Caribbean's first quarter 2017 earnings call with investors, we picked up on five interesting points worth noting.

Sneak peak at features for new smart phone app

Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain made a quick reference to some of features coming to the new smart phone app that the cruise line is developing. 

Dubbed, "Project Excalibur," this new app will offer new ways for guests to have a simpler experience onboard.

"Starting over two years ago, we have found intuitive digital applications to make the guest experience simpler and more comfortable," Fain announced during the call. "You'll be able to open the door to your room without pulling out a card or a key, request a beverage real-time from the comfort of your lounge chair, and get recommendations for your traveling companion based on their preferences."

"We take our guest vacation time seriously, and technology is a great enabler to improve the use of that."

Guest spending is fundamentally changing

Royal Caribbean CFO Jason Liberty made mention of the fact onboard revenue continues to grow, and that is a reflection of a shift in where guests spend their money.  Specifically, they are spending more money on experiences, in lieu of buying things.

Onboard revenue yield was up 8.9% for the quarter, which was driven by new hardware, shore excursions and Voom.

"As I mentioned over the past couple quarters, guests spend has continuing to shift towards areas that involve experiences over buying things," Liberty explained.

Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley added, "What we are seeing is a switch to more experience-related revenue streams, and obviously we are trying to leverage that. Things like shore excursions obviously, and beverages and beverage packages. "

"I think really what we are seeing is we're seeing a really good pick up on our pre-cruise sales, and that has been driving a lot of these revenues. There's various theories on how impactful pre-cruises sales are, and one of the theories is that if you sell a dollar pre-cruise, you'll probably see anywhere from 20 to 50% uptick in the onboard spend by the very same guest."

Mariner of the Seas will receive a drydock

Two days ago, Royal Caribbean announced that Mariner of the Seas would return to North America after spending many years in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley explained, "With Mariner moving back into the States, that was really about timing. Mariner was coming out anyway when Quantum Plus came into the market, and we had an opportunity because we have some revitalization and drydock work that's quite extensive that we're planning for Mariner."

Symphony of the Seas bookings are doing well

Bookings in general are quite good for Royal Caribbean, and even the yet-to-be-launched Symphony of the Seas is doing well with guests booking it.

"Symphony of the Seas, which comes out in April of next year, the forward bookings are terrific."

How millennials cruise

An investor asked how passengers under 35 years old view Royal Caribbean, and Michael Bayley elaborated on the appeal of cruising to millennials.

"When a millennial has a child, they really come into our sweet spot...for Royal Caribbean certainly. As soon as those millennials get kids, then they really want to have a great time with their family, and we work very well for them. "

"The one obvious thing that's quite meaningful is digital technology and access through Voom to the world around them. Of course, that's something we put into place a couple of years ago, and I think that's really proven to be successful."

"The other component is the whole idea of multi-generational vacations, and that's something we really do focus on. This idea that we can offer a multi-generational experience to our customers. And of course, the Oasis Class ships really are  the great expression of that."

"And then dining I think is becoming something that's slightly different with the millennial market, and that's something we're obviously focused on, both in our current fleet, and also as we look at our new builds coming online."

Royal Caribbean hires former Disney digital guru to create new mobile app

In:
Category: 
18Mar2017

 Royal Caribbean has hired a former "mastermind" behind Walt Disney World's Magic Band mobile app to help create the cruise line's new smart phone app that is set to debut this summer.

TechRepublic is reporting four months ago, Royal Caribbean hired former Walt Disney Co. guru Jay Schneider as senior vice president of digital to lead its digital transformation. After joining the company in November 2016, the real work began in earnest on the new mobile app.

"We have no dates yet on how soon this [app] might roll out, but with six ships scheduled [to have it] in 2017, it means we're going quickly," Schneider said. Privacy and security is an important consideration. Guests' privacy is crucial, so Schneider said he has his team working from the ground up to create best practices for privacy in the devices.

There are few details known about the app, which is being referred to internally as Project Excalibur. Royal Caribbean CEO and Chairman Richard Fain told analysts earlier this year to expect the app to debut sometime this summer.

Fain said he's not worried about competition from Carnival Corp. "We started developing our WOWband two years ago, so because we had that head start, we will have this in 20% of our ships by the end of the year, compared to 1% [on Carnival]. We'll have it on more or less 50% of our ships by the end of next year."

One of the ways that Royal Caribbean will be able to move quickly, Fain said, is because "we're using more open source technology that makes it easier to build as the world of technology improves."

Royal Caribbean sheds more light on its new smart phone app plans

In:
26Jan2017

Royal Caribbean revealed some additional information about its new smart phone app that will debut later this year.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain spoke to analysts earlier today about the company's fourth-quarter 2016 results, and provided more detail on the company's plans to roll out new technology initiatives.

Fain mentioned its new smart phone app, which is being called internally, "Excalibur".

Mr. Fain provided more detail on when guests can start using the new app, "We would expect to be coming out this summer with a new and upgraded, new app, that does reflect the technologies that are available today. Over this next year we would expect to roll this out to 6 to 11 new vessels. And then the next year we would expect to be rolling it out at a rate of 1 to 2 a month over the period."

"Technology can be used to help attack what is really our biggest single problem, which is not enough people understand about cruising. Anything we can do to make the experience better and particularly easier for our guests and for the people who haven't yet been our guests, is very helpful."

News of a new smart phone app was first announced earlier this year, when Royal Caribbean CIO Michael Giresi mentioned the development. It was unclear at the time whether this would be a new app or a continuation of the Royal iQ app, but Mr. Fain's comments suggest this will be a brand new endeavor.

The comments on Excalibur came as a result of financial analysts inquiring about Royal Caribbean's response to Carnival Corporation's Ocean Medallion program, which garnered a lot of media attention earlier this month.

"We started a project with what we call our WOWbands a couple of years ago that's been extremely effective in simplifying the process for our guests," said Fain.  He continued, "But it's also obvious that the technologies improved a lot in the last two years, and what we can all do today is much better than we could do two years ago. So I think you will continue to see us, and I hope the rest of the industry, continue to move forward with that."

"I remember at the time that we rolled out WOWbands, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo's comment was we wanted to give people their first day back. And I think that's a really very good way to look at it. The more that we can do to ease that process, not only makes it more comfortable for them, but gives them the time to do the other stuff. One of the benefits is not only more in ticket revenue, but also on the onboard revenue because we facilitate those kinds of processes. "

"So I think this is a trend that is happening in our industry, but is happening throughout industry and I think it will enhance the cruise experience and therefore, be good for all of us."