Previewing Harmony of the Seas: Technology


Royal Caribbean has built a reputation for itself in being a technological leader when it comes to the technological advancements it brings to its cruise ships and on Harmony of the Seas, guests can expect the very latest innovations.

Technology will be at the heart of what Harmony of the Seas offers, so here is a look at what guests can expect to find at their fingertips when they get onboard the largest cruise ship in the world.

True high speed internet

When folks think of using the internet on a cruise ship, there is usually a groan and sigh involved because traditionally internet at sea has been mid-1990s slow.  

On Harmony of the Seas, guests can enjoy the high-speed internet experience known as Voom.  

Voom is Royal Caribbean's new satellite internet service that allows guests to post to Facebook and Instagram, post videos on YouTube, tweet about your shore excursion, and have face-to-face conversations via Skype and Google Hangouts. Plus, you can even stream movies, games and apps via your personal accounts with Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and more.

The Voom speeds are the real deal and Royal Caribbean even says if you need to do business work onboard, with Voom you can check email, transfer files, host video conferences, Skype and more, just as if you were on land.

Everything on your wrist

An undeniably cool innovation coming to Harmony of the Seas are the RFID bracelets known as WOW Bands.

WOW Bands give guests everything they have been accustomed to having in a SeaPass card, on their wrist.  This means getting access to staterooms, making purchases and checking in for entertainment has never been easier.

Guests can use their WOWband to enter their staterooms, purchase beverages, merchandise and anything else Royal Caribbean sells. Plus, WOWbands serve as an easy way to distinguish which muster station each guest is assigned to.

WOW Bands are an optional feature but once you try the WOW Bands, you will likely be leaving your SeaPass card behind in your stateroom.  

Get drinks made by robots

What happens when you mix your favorite beverages with cutting-edge robotics? You get the Bionic Bar on Harmony of the Seas.

Makr Shakr created Bionic Bar for the Quantum class ships and they have brought this impressive creation to Harmony of the Seas, where guests can order drinks from iPads and then marvel in the spectacle of robotic arms creating the drink on the spot.

Combining robots and mixology, Bionic Bar is something you have to see to appreciate because every time you walk by, it is so tantalizing to watch the robots in action.

The single armed robot will get the ice, mints and lemon and then squeeze and shake them to make your drink. Eventually, there wont be a limit on what the drinks the robots can make. The customization is what Royal Caribbean is aiming for.

A room with a (virtual) view

Staying in an inside stateroom does not mean you do not have a view anymore. On Harmony of the Seas, guests will be able to enjoy virtual balconies in their inside staterooms.

What is a virtual balcony?  Inside staterooms on Harmony of the Seas offer a floor-to-ceiling high-definition LED screen that shows real-time views from specific points on the ship.  

Royal Caribbean designed the virtual balcony to look (and sound) like the real thing, so guests can see everything going on in a port or just the vast serenity of the ocean passing by.

Guests can turn the virtual balcony off at any time, especially at night when sleeping but it's available anytime they want.

There's even natural sounds that are piped into your stateroom to provide as authentic an experience as possible.

The only thing missing is the balcony stateroom price tag!

There's an app for that

With the Royal iQ smartphone app, everything is easier to do onboard Harmony of the Seas.

Royal iQ allows guests to track their luggage as it comes onboard the ship, book shore excursions and dinner reservations as well as chat or call friends and family onboard.

Available for iPads, iPhones, and Android phones, Royal iQ gives you the flexibility to decide what to do and when to do it.

Royal iQ allows guests to manage details during the cruise, includes a convenient calendar that provides at-a-glance views of the cruise or conference program.

If you prefer not to carry a phone or tablet with you, Harmony of the Seas will offer eight freestanding iQ stations at Guest Services that give you the same functionality as the mobile apps. You will also find roaming Guest Services staff to assist as well.

Get to the fun faster

Royal Caribbean wants the boarding process for Harmony of the Seas to be the simplest yet.  Why waste time in the pier doing paper work?

Guests sailing on Harmony of the Seas can take care of all necessary documentation online including uploading your own photo and receiving digital boarding confirmation.

Without a check‑in counter, there aren't any forms to fill out or lines to wait in.

All of this means less time spent waiting in lines and filling out forms and a quicker way to get onboard and having vacation start a whole lot sooner.

Which tech innovation excites you the most? Tell us in the comments below!

Video: An inside look at the making of Royal Caribbean's azipods


Always on the cutting edge of technology, Royal Caribbean uses azipods to propel and safely maneuver its ships on the high seas. Watch as these powerful propellers make ship navigation more precise than ever before.

Using your cell phone on a Royal Caribbean cruise


Cell phones are a way of life these days, with every guest bringing their phone with them onto a Royal Caribbean cruise, just like they would bring their wallet or identification.  The obvious question is can you use your cell phone onboard a Royal Caribbean ship and what are the costs.

Here is an in-depth look at what you need to know about using your cell phone while on a Royal Caribbean ship.

Calls, texts and data

Once you are onboard a Royal Caribbean ship and the ship begins to sail, Royal Caribbean operates a WMS mobile network, known as Cellular at Sea, that will work with any phone that allows roaming.

When the ship is sailing out of range of land-based mobile phone networks, mobile phone service will still be available. When the ship is in port, you can connect to local roaming networks as permitted by your home carrier.

Cellular at Sea is compatible with both GSM and CDMA technologies.

The exact rates will depend on your carrier and the cell phone plan you have signed up for.

As an example, AT&T charges

  • $2.50 per minute for voice calls
  • $0.50 per text message
  • $1.30 per picture or video message
  • $10.24 per MB ($0.0195 per KB)

Verizon Wireless charges

  • $1.79 per minute for voice calls
  • $0.50 per message sent
  • $0.05 per message received
  • $2.05 per MB ($0.002KB)

 Please note that calls to 800, 888, 866, and 877 numbers are not toll free. You will be billed by your home carrier for your international roaming usage on your regular mobile phone bill.

Not all prepaid phones are currently supported.

The bottom line is, using your cell phone on a Royal Caribbean ship while roaming can get very expensive, very quickly.

Cell phone plans for cruises

AT&T offers cell phone packages specifically for use on a Royal Caribbean ship.

There are three packages to choose from and they must be purchased prior to your cruise.

  • $30 package
    • 50 voice call minutes ($1 per minute overage)
  • $60 package
    •  50 voice call minutes ($1 per minute overage)
    • 100 text messages ($0.50 per message overage)
  • $120 package
    •  50 voice call minutes ($1 per minute overage)
    • 100 text messages ($0.50 per message overage)
    • 100MB data ($10 per 10 MB overage)


These cruise packages can be added by calling 800.335.4685 and a one-month minimum required.

Verizon Wireless offers Cruise Ship Preferred Pricing

  • $25 monthly access per line
    • 100 MB monthly allowance ($25 per 100MB overage)
  • For $15 more per line, add
    • 100 minutes ($0.25 per minute overage)
    • 100 sent texts ($0.25 per text sent overage)
    • Unlimited received texts

Sprint offers international rates for Royal Caribbean ships

  • $2.99 per minute voice calls
  • $0.50 per message sent
  • $0.15 per message received

T-Mobile offers international rates for Royal Caribbean ships

  • $5.99 per minute voice calls
  • $0.50 per message sent
  • Messages received deducted from domestic texting plan allotment
  • $15 per MB

Avoiding cell phone roaming costs

There are two simple ways to avoid the roaming costs that your cell phone provider may levy on you for using your phone while onboard.

Easiest and simplest is to turn your phone off before the ship leaves port.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to keep use of your phone in an offline mode, put the phone into "airplane mode".  

Airplane mode disables the phone's ability to communicate with cell phone towers and will ensure you can use your phone without incurring charges.

For instructions on how to put your phone into airplane mode, refer to your phone manufacturer.

Using WiFi on your phone

Many guests choose to put their phone in airplane mode but use WiFi signals onboard or onshore to retain data communication.

Nearly all modern phones allow you to put the phone in airplane mode while turning back on the WiFi signal.

Royal Caribbean provides internet service via WiFi on all of its cruise ships that can be purchased in increments or as unlimited packages.

Royal Caribbean ships with Voom high speed internet can purchase a package.  You can view Voom internet prices for details on up-to-date costs.

Staying connected with other guests

Often we hear from guests who want the best way to be able to communicate with other guests onboard their Royal Caribbean cruise.  Since voice calls are usually prohibitively expensive, here are some ideas for low cost ways to communicate with a phone.

  • Text messages are usually the least expensive option to use and may also be the simplest.  Depending on how much you text, the cost of this idea will vary.
  • If you purchase one of Royal Caribbean's internet data plans, you can use text messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Viber to communicate without any extra cost beyond the internet package.  iPhone users can use iMessage to also communicate for free with a internet package.
  • We have heard about the Ripple Cruise Communicator that purports to allow free communication on a cruise ship, but have also heard mixed results of how effective it is.

Royal Caribbean connects high speed internet on Anthem of the Seas in the Mediterranean


Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas had its high-speed internet access enabled while the ship is in the Mediterranean, according to O3b Networks.

O3b uses a new type of sattelite internet that reduces latency, increases internet speed and improves voice and video quality for the user.

O3bMaritime has already provided four of Royal Caribbean’s ships (Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas,Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas), each with more bandwidth than the rest of the cruise industry combined.  In the near future, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas will move across the Pacific, bringing exceptional cruising experiences and at-sea high speed broadband to the Japanese ports of Okinawa and Kyoto, as well as other Asian destinations.

Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley commented on the partnership with O3b, "With O3b we have added a dimension to cruising that has never existed before.  Our new internet capabilities allow our guests to surf, stream and share their vacation experiences with their friends and family back home. It also allows us to provide our business clientele a new way to stay connected with their colleagues."

Royal Caribbean debuts a new website


Royal Caribbean debuted a brand new site redesign on its flagship site,

The new site look is a full-width layout that is a responsive design that adjusts its look conform to the screen resolution of your device.  

This is not the only site design Royal Caribbean has trotted out recently.  Royal Caribbean relaunched its blog with a new design and focus in January 2015.  Royal Caribbean also revamped its Cruise Planner software for guests to book shore excursions, dining reservations and more last year in coordination with Quantum of the Seas' launch.

Based on the Internet Archive Wayback machine, the previous site design has been in use for a number of years going back to late 2011.

Video: Inside look at the IT room on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas


Recently TechCrunch got a tour of the IT never center behind Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas.

The tour looks at how Royal Caribbean manages to provide a 600 Mbps connection with a satellite and provide Wi-Fi access across the ship for everyone.

Royal Caribbean selects ElevenOS for onboard internet access on all ships in the fleet


Royal Caribbean has selected ElevenOS as the guest Internet management platform for all the ships in the fleet.  ElevenOS' parent company Eleven has completed deployment of ElevenOS on all 22 ships at the end of 2014.

ElevenOS is used to manage all aspects of the onboard Internet service including custom branded portal pages, guest authentication, billing, and advanced reporting. With the help of ElevenOS, Royal Caribbean is able to deliver a faster, more reliable onboard connection and seamless online guest experience that works across multiple guest devices (phones, tablets, etc.)

ElevenOS also enables Royal Caribbean to offer tiered bandwidth options, so users can choose the level of service that meets their needs and budget.

"ElevenOS provides us the power and flexibility that we need in order to revolutionize Internet communications at sea for Royal Caribbean International guests,” commented Bill Martin, vice president and CIO for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Only in the last year can cruise vacationers enjoy the fiber-like Internet connectivity that can only be found aboard select Royal Caribbean International ships, as well as more than 10 times faster speed than the industry across the fleet. ElevenOS helps us effectively manage a range of products, pricing, accounting, and reporting, which has helped us deliver a seamless and stress-free Internet communications solution for our guests on vacation.”

Quantum of the Seas sets broadcast record for IP TV channels in HD


Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas has had a lot of firsts but not to be overlooked is the fact Royal Caribbean's newest ship has also set a benchmark in the broadcasting industry.

Royal Caribbean chose VSM by L-S-B Broadcast Technologies for all of the on-board digital broadcasting requirements of the ship, which is the first to feature 36 on-board IPTV-channels in HD, broadcasting from various locations on board.

Controlling all the broadcasts onboard Quantum of the Seas is the Broadcast Control Center.  This is where the incoming and outgoing signals are controlled, switched and processed. Signals stemming from 20 satellite receivers, from the event locations or self-produced footage are collected. Further control rooms are in use in the various event locations.

Ten to 15 of the IPTV channels will be reserved for self-produced content on-board the vessel and all audio, video and intercom signals are being distributed on the ship via a Riedel MediorNet network with 30 nodes – currently the biggest fixed MediorNet installation worldwide.

O3b Networks succesfully launches four more satellites to add additional support for Royal Caribbean cruise ships


O3b Networks launched four more satellites out of the Space Center in French Guiana that will provide more coverage of its super-fast internet to cruise ships like Royal Caribbean's.

The launch yesterday was a complete success and adds substantial capacity and performance to the O3b constellation that is already powering high-speed internet to select Royal Caribbean ships.

The new satellites will now go through a period of in-orbit testing before being fully integrated into the O3b network early in the new year.

The O3b system delivers fiber like performance, with throughput exceeding 1 Gbps per connection and latency comparable with terrestrial networks, but retains the flexibility and ubiquity of satellite. The company has now launched 8 satellites in 5 months, adding more than 80 Gbps of capacity and growing the fleet capacity to over 100 Gbps.