Royal Caribbean creates virtual reality headsets for agents to explore Quantum of the Seas


Royal Caribbean is once again using technology to make business better for them.  This time, they have created wearable glasses to train agents on what its newest cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas will offer.

Travel Weekly is reporting Royal Caribbean partnered with Jason Bradbury, an expert in technology, to create a new video for agents which is built into a pair of glasses and shows them the facilities on board Quantum of the Seas as well as sister ship Anthem of the Seas.

Starting on July 10, Royal Caribbean sales teams will visit agents with the glasses to test out the glasses.

Royal Caribbean chooses Agilysys InfoGenesis for point-of-sale system for Quantum-class ships


Royal Caribbean announced today that it has selected the Agilysys InfoGenesis point-of-sale system for its two newest Quantum-class cruise ships, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas.

Agilysys is a leading provider of innovating hospitality software solutions and services.

Royal Caribbean CIO Bill Martin commented on the deal, "The InfoGenesis POS system continues to be well-suited to our needs.  It is among the most versatile point-of-sale systems on the market, combining an accessible user interface with a variety of reporting tools. With this technology in place, we are well positioned for the future, with a comprehensive POS system that will enhance guest service and give us a competitive edge."

InfoGenesis markets itself as an easy to set up and maintain system that integrates with many other applications and is designed to process transactions in the highest volume environments without any loss of performance at the point of sale.

"We have had a long relationship with Royal Caribbean and are delighted the company has once again selected the InfoGenesis POS system," said Tony Ross, vice president of sales for Agilysys. "In the highly competitive cruise market, companies must implement technology that enables them to streamline operations while creating lasting connections with guests. The InfoGenesis solution, with its scalable architecture, flexible configuration and superior integration capabilities, will enable Royal Caribbean's two newest ships to operate at peak efficiency and deliver the five-star guest experience for which the company is known."

Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas get high speed internet upgrade


A new satellite network is giving Royal Caribbean flagships record internet speeds and more Wi-Fi capacity than all other cruise ships--combined.

A set of new, custom-built antennae were shipped from Israel to Florida last month, and installed on Oasis of the Seas. Testing confirmed the ships' ability to match the fastest broadband connections on shore.

The internet is being provided by O3b Satellite Communications and works by pairing a new generation of medium-Earth-orbit satellites (originally designed to bring the Internet to emerging markets like sub Saharan Africa) with sophisticated antenna arrays aboard the cruise ships.

The higher internet speeds will make it feasible for a guest to download streaming video or post video clips to Facebook. Royal Caribbean is developing new pricing plans for added service.

The entire process was started in 2012 when Royal Caribbean signed a deal with O3b and is now starting to come to fruition.

And by the time the new system becomes available on Royal Caribbean's newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein said guests can anticipate "several new, show-stopper uses of the bandwidth."

What surprises? That information, he said, is not yet available for download.

Said Goldstein, "If you're a first-time guest on one of these ships, you won't realize how much work it took to make the wireless so pervasive – or that your cell 'tower' is 4,900 miles over your head. If you are a return guest, you'll be blown away by the improvement. It's that dramatic."

According to Bill Martin, Chief Information Officer, Royal Caribbean, the key to unlocking a land-like experience was reducing satellite latency – the time it takes for something to happen after you hit 'enter.' This breakthrough technology solves that problem, reducing latency from 750 milliseconds to approximately 140 milliseconds. And with each ship's overall capacity exceeding 500mbps during system tests, there will be more than enough bandwidth to go around.

UPDATE: According to Royal Caribbean, the new high speed internet connections will be available beginning August 2014.

Royal Caribbean chooses 802.11ac as its Wi-Fi standard


Royal Caribbean has selected Meru 802.11ac as its standard for wireless LAN (WLAN) connectivity on all new onboard deployments. 

Royal Caribbean had been using Meru 802.11ac since 2011 on some ships but will now make it its fleet-wide standard.

The new wireless internet technology helps Royal Caribbean saturate its cruise ships with a WiFi signal and has become an important revenue source for the cruise line.  For guests, it has meant an easier means of staying connected while at sea.

The Meru wireless LAN supports up to 8,000 passengers and up to 24,000 clients on a typical Royal Caribbean ship. Guest migration to 802.11ac clients will occur over time but those using 802.11n devices already see clear benefits, including faster data rates, when using the new 802.11ac networks. In its 802.11ac pilot on Navigator of the Seas, Royal Caribbean is seeing 20 percent higher throughput with 802.11n wireless clients.

Royal Caribbean director of IT operations, Gregory Martin, commented on the decision, "Our wireless environment is changing all the time, and Meru's MobileFLEX architecture gives us the high performance and reliability that we need to ensure guest satisfaction and staff productivity.  Deploying Wi-Fi onboard ships is difficult, due to the all-steel construction and closed spaces, but Meru worked very closely with us to ensure comprehensive coverage and to optimize performance of voice and video, the key drivers for our 802.11ac implementation."

New state-of-the-art data management system installed on Allure of the Seas


The world's largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, has received a new state-of-the-art, customized data management system that operates over a global, secure and highly scalable infrastructure called K-IMS.

K-IMS includes a number of applications in one package that gives engineers and management access to high level vessel data. The user interface is available on board and on the Royal Caribbean office network in Miramar, Florida. K-IMS data is also accessed on board using tablets and is displayed on a large screen in the Engine Control Room on Allure.

K-IMS was installed during a significant upgrade to the existing Kongsberg Maritime K-Chief automation system on board. The new K-Chief on Allure of the Seas is one of the most extensive ever installed by Kongsberg Maritime, consisting 76 Remote Control Units (RCUs) controlling over 40,000 Input/Output (IO) points. K-IMS replaces the exiting K-Chief History Station and as the data logging system of choice on board, will provide data from 21,000 I/O points (up from 14,500) and data storage for seven years (up from one year). This provides Royal Caribbean with extensive data and statistics with which to improve vessel operational performance.

K-IMS provides the ability to review statistical data, condition based monitoring, alarms and events and ship performance monitoring data. Condition Based maintenance on Allure provides a long term overview of the equipment performance and mechanical degradation, which supports preventative maintenance. Alarms and Events reporting provide the ability to review the most commonly repeating alarms and fix issues with equipment before they become emergencies.

The K-IMS solution on Allure is a triple redundant data access and storage system with servers located in three zones – two on board and one in a hosted cloud service. This configuration enables Royal Caribbeanmanagement to access the vessel’s data without having to use satellite communications, thereby saving on communication costs. A malware protection system to filter out any malicious attacks from the web or via USB on board is included whilst an admin server allows secure remote access to the vessel from authorized locations including the Kongsberg Maritime customer support team.

Royal Caribbean offering e-brochure for tablets


Royal Caribbean UK is now offfering a new brouchure for families that is in digital format, perfect for today's generation of iPad enthusiasts.

Travolution reports that Royal Caribbean is calling it an "industry first" by having an e-brochure that offers videos and interactive content to help showcase the family-friendly features offered by the cruise line.

With the new e-brochure, you can get access to special early booking offers and a selection of the most popular family-friendly itineraries.

Other features of the e-brocure app are planning guides for parents and a link to the Royal Caribbean's kid-friendly Penguin Ahoy! app.

Marketing and PR director Jo Briody said: “Our new tablet friendly brochure is designed to allow families to plan their holidays together, and to showcase all of our family friendly videos and onboard features in one place.

“We hope that its ease of use and inspiring content will urge more families to consider a cruise for the first time."

The new app is free and available from the iTunes app store.

Royal Caribbean partners with NetDimensions for shipboard software training


Royal Caribbean announced today it is partnering with NetDimensions Interactive to create online, self-paced learning modules for its new shipboard property management software.

This new software will eventually be rolled out to all of the cruise ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet, along with sister brands Celebrity Cruisse Line and Azamara Club Cruises. The first ship crew will access their software simulation training this December for a January ship launch, with staggered rollouts on additional ships in February and March 2014.

The online training for the new property management software will support an enterprise-wide initiative that will streamline existing guest and crew handling processes, and help automate the loading of guest reservation information to the fleet in a more real-time manner. Uniform, online employee training on the software will enable Royal Caribbean operations to provide a higher level of customer service, improve business results, standardize the fleet, and simplify the operational environment.

Royal Caribbean testing 11ac network upgrade for its ship Wi-Fi


Royal Caribbean is testing a new Wi-Fi technology known as 802.11ac to optimize their Wi-Fi connectivity for the new wave in mobile data usage onboard its ships.  

Network World is reporting that Royal Caribbean is testing Meru Networks' just-released 11ac product, the AP 832.

"It’s a two-radio product, each radio capable of running in either 2.4 or 5Hz bands, supporting three spatial streams, a maximum data rate of 1.3Gbps, and the ability to run all three streams and support 80-MHz wide channels on both radios over existing 802.3af Power-over-Ethernet."

Tests of the new networking gear have been conducted at Royal Caribbean's "ship lab" in Florida, which mimics conditions on board a ship, involved four Meru AP832 access points with 11ac and 11n clients. The results of the tests found up to 782 Mbps receiving and 634Mbps sending.  That is a signifigant upgrade compared to the company’s existing 11n Wi-Fi target of 200Mbps.

“We were able to see a 40 percent improvement with the new [11ac] chipset,” says Greg Martin, IT director for Royal Caribbean.

The potential benefit of this technology for Royal Caribbean is doing away with Ethernet cabling for numerous VoIP phones, digital signage, kiosks and similar endpoints.  In addition, it will reduce the cabling needs aboard the cruise ships, which is expensive.

The next test comes in December when Royal Caribbean will use the 11ac products in a pilot program at its Oregon call center. A limited test is also planned for Navigator of the Seas in January.

Royal Caribbean plans to deploy 11ac as the standard in all new ships, and phase in 11ac upgrades to the existing fleet. The next new ship, Quantum of the Seas, likely will be the first of the company’s ships to get a stem-to-stern 11ac wireless LAN.

Adding Wi-Fi to Royal Caribbean's ships has been a boon financially, with more guests buying internet access onboard their ship and that has translated well to the company's bottom line in recent quarters.

Royal Caribbean chooses AIMS for BizTalk to monitor its Microsoft BizTalk system


Royal Caribbean has selected AIMS Innovation to monitor its Microsoft BizTalk system, at the cruise line's Florida headquarters and aboard its cruise ships.  Royal Caribbean will use the AIMS for BizTalk multi-tenant solution to monitor and manage the large bursts of traffic and information downloads that occurs when its cruise ships come into port. From its Florida "mission control", Royal Caribbean can check the status of each ship's BizTalk Solution, no matter where it is in the world.

Max Schmidt, vice president of IT Infrastructure, Operations and Information Security for Royal Caribbean, commented on the new deal, "In order to deal with bursts of information across our system, we needed a more flexible, intuitive BizTalk monitoring solution that could help us anticipate problems and lead us quickly to the exact location of errors to fix them in a short timeframe.  We chose AIMS for BizTalk because it gives us an effective tool to quickly and accurately monitor our data without using extensive resources to manage it or paying for expensive software customization."

Royal Caribbean will benefit from the deal in the following ways

  • Decreases the cruise line's monitoring time. IT administrators only need to log into one environment to automatically get information from all the ships. Plus, administrators don't need to determine the operational threshold for each system.

  • Prevents downtime. AIMS for BizTalk sends early warning alerts before downtime occurs and pinpoints the problem's exact location versus making IT staff guess which warnings are real.

  • Learns and adapts to systems' behavior. AIMS for BizTalk modifies alerts over time dynamically "self learning" traffic patterns to make alerts more accurate over time. The dynamic nature of AIMS is critical to Royal Caribbean due to the varying loads during boarding and disembarkation which is considerably higher than normal operations. Other products gave us constant false alerts making our previous monitoring solutions unusable.

  • Can easily and quickly be installed by any IT staff member. It takes 5 minutes without special training through Microsoft Azure cloud or a local install.

Royal Caribbean launches new 3G cellular service on Oasis and Allure of the Seas


Royal Caribbean and Wireless Maritime Services (WMS) have launched the second phase of 3G cellular data services onboard Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. 

Having already launched EVDO in November 2010, WMS has followed that up with the launch of UMTS (3G) services.  This marks the first time that both 3G services have been successfully deployed onboard cruise ships, and marks a major milestone in passenger connectivity.

EVDO stands for “evolution data only” which is the 3G path for CDMA carriers.  UMTS stands for “universal mobile telephone service” and is the 3G path for GSM carriers.  

Prior to this, cellular data speeds onboard cruise ships were regulated to 2G speeds, but now guests can experience speeds of four to six times those speeds with these upgrades.

“It’s one thing to have UMTS work in a lab environment, it’s an entirely different and thrilling level of success to have it working as well is it is onboard these ships,” said Tony Patino, vice president of engineering at WMS.  “Leveraging the expertise of our parent, AT&T, the WMS Engineering and Deployment teams have been working diligently to optimize and develop better use of parameters, finely honing our technology in order to achieve this great result.”

WMS recently announced the signing of a new four-year contract renewing its relationship with Royal Caribbean Cruises continue providing cellular at sea wireless services to guests and crew on all existing ships across the Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises brands.