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Spotted: Royal Caribbean adds new way to add Covid-19 vaccine card in its app

In:
13 Sep 2021

In an effort to make the check-in process easier, Royal Caribbean has added a new feature in its app to scan a copy of a passenger's Covid-19 vaccination card.

Ever since Royal Caribbean restarted cruises, vaccinated guests have had to get their vaccine cards photographed by the terminal staff. 

With this new feature in the app, guests could instead take a photo of their card just like they take a selfie photo to speed up the embarkation process.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader twangster spotted the feature for a Freedom of the Seas cruise on October 8, but it is not appearing for all sailings.

When enabled, guests can take a photo of the front and back of the vaccine card, as well as select which vaccine manufacturer they have.

Guests will still need to bring their vaccine card with them, but taking the photo at home will allow the embarkation process to move just a little bit faster since the terminal staff will not have to take time to take photos of everyone's card.

Royal Caribbean has worked steadily to speed up the check-in process in its app by allowing guests to do as much as they can at home to save time at the terminal.

With new features and capabilities coming to Royal Caribbean's app as a result of ensuring health and safety are the top priority. This includes a variety of new changes:

Royal Caribbean's app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Spotted: Royal Caribbean cruise expected check-in date added to app

In:
10 Aug 2021

Ever since Royal Caribbean restarted cruises again, it has been a bit of mystery when online check-in would open, but now that appears to be a lot easier to anticipate.

Before the cruise industry shutdown, online check-in was standard across the fleet to open right at the 90 day mark, but the exact date of when online check-in would open these days has been less standardized.

A new update to the Royal Caribbean app looks to now give guests advanced notice of the date online check-in will become available.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Jason Lickert alerted us to a new option for sailings listed in the Royal Caribbean app that have not yet opened for check-in now have a date when it will open.

In the Royal Caribbean app, select a sailing that has not opened for online check-in yet.  Instead of a message saying check-in isn't available, there is now a date listed of when it will become available.

Thus far, the date only appears in the app, and not after logging into Royal Caribbean's website.

While there is no pattern yet as to when online check-in will be available, at least there is now a date for guests to plan to log back in rather than randomly checking if it is available.

Online check-in is more important to guests now because the check-in times at the cruise terminal are enforced, and with check-in times beginning later than they did before the cruise industry shutdown, early check-in times go quickly.

The reason why check-in times are now enforced is to ensure social distancing in the cruise terminals. Royal Caribbean wants to avoid there being too many people congested in one particular area.

Once online check-in is available, time slots for arrival to the cruise terminal are shown in 30 minute windows.

If you arrive before or after the set time, you will be asked to wait outside until it is your turn.

The reason why an early check-in time matters is the earlier you board, the more time you have onboard the ship on the first day.  In addition, travel plans getting to the terminal may mean a later check-in time requires you to spend time outside the terminal instead of onboard the ship.

Royal Caribbean's chat feature is now available on every cruise ship

In:
06 Jul 2021

The next time you go on a Royal Caribbean cruise, expect to be able to use the guest-to-guest chat feature onboard.

One of the projects Royal Caribbean was working on during the cruise industry shutdown was getting its chat feature ready to be used on all ships, and going forward, the cruise line says it will be available in the Royal Caribbean app when you sail.

While on Freedom of the Seas, Royal Caribbean Group Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider confirmed the chat feature is ready for use fleet wide, "As we bring every ship back, every ship, will have chat."

In fact, Mr. Schneider said the chat feature was ready to be roll out to the fleet just before the global health crisis forced all the ships to shutdown.

There is a cost to use the chat feature, which is $1.99 per guest, per day. You do not need to purchase internet access in order to use the app features in the app. In fact, you can use the app on a tablet or other non-cellular device.

Chat has been something Royal Caribbean has been working on since at least 2019, with it being in a beta test on Harmony of the Seas and Allure of the Seas

The chat in Royal Caribbean's app works very similar to other texting apps you may have used in other apps.

Royal Caribbean's chat offers one-to-one guest chat, along with group chats.

Once onboard the ship and logged onto Royal Caribbean's Wi-Fi  network (no internet package required to use the app), other guests will show up as offline or online but are only online if they have the app opened and to the “chat” window.

If your travel agent linked your reservation before sailing with a friend or family the will automatically show up in your list of contacts. You also have the option of adding other guests.

Royal Caribbean's app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

With new features and capabilities coming to Royal Caribbean's app as a result of ensuring health and safety are the top priority. This includes a variety of new changes:

Dependency on the smart phone app has never been greater because so many new features are being incorporated onto it.

Spotted: Daily charge for Royal Caribbean text chat on Quantum of the Seas

In:
19 Dec 2020

Royal Caribbean has always operated its cruises a little bit differently in Asia, and we can add chat to the list.

A guest who was aboard a Quantum of the Seas cruise from Singapore noticed Royal Caribbean is now charging a daily fee for its chat feature.

The app is free to download and use its core functionality, but the chat feature seems to be an add-on.

Sail n Snow shared a photo from Royal Caribbean's app advertising guests can add-on the text chat feature for $1.99 per day, per guest.

It is also worth noting Royal Caribbean has charged for activities and things to do on Asia sailings that are not charged for in North America or Europe, such as North Star or Ripcord by iFly.

The text chat feature on Royal Caribbean's old app, Royal iQ had a daily charge associated with it.

Royal Caribbean's chat feature was still in development prior to the cruise line shutting down due to the global health crisis, and at the time was complimentary on the two ships it was being tested on: Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas.

On Apple's App Store and Google Play store, the app description lists chat as a feature, with the note that "fee applies".

Other cruise lines offer a chat feature in their apps, with some charging for the feature and others including at no additional cost.

  • Carnival: $5 per user for duration of cruise
  • Disney Cruise Line: Free
  • NCL: $9.95 (includes phone and voicemail capability)
  • MSC: Free
  • Princess: Free

When Royal Caribbean resumes sailings, the app's role will be more important than ever. The cruise line recently notified guests that the app is required to be downloaded prior to sailing.

New functionality has been added to the app to facilitate social distancing and add more touchfree functionality.

Royal Caribbean says its app is required when cruises restart

In:
07 Dec 2020

It looks like Royal Caribbean's mobile app has gone from utility to must-have.

Guests who go to Royal Caribbean's website to complete online check-in are now seeing a large banner informing them, "You are required to download the mobile app prior to sailing."

With Royal Caribbean preparing to restart cruise operations, dependency on the smart phone app has never been greater because so many new features are being incorporated onto it.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog has confirmed that there will be assistance available for guests who do not have a smartphone or device, so you will not be denied boarding if you do not have the app.

Ever since Royal Caribbean debuted its app, the cruise line has added more functionality and made it a larger part of the overall experience.

With new features and capabilities coming to Royal Caribbean's app as a result of ensuring health and safety are the top priority. This includes a variety of new changes:

  • Enforced check-in times at the cruise terminal
  • Muster 2.0 enhanced safety drill
  • Digital Key and stateroom controls
  • Guest to guest chat feature
  • Wellness check and health questionnaires 

You can download the Royal Caribbean app from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

It is important to note that you do not need to purchase internet access in order to use the app features in the app. In fact, you can use the app on a tablet or other non-cellular device.

On the first cruises back on Quantum of the Seas in Singapore, guests have been informed the app is required of all guests before the ship sails.

In Singapore, guests who do not show up on time for their check-in may experience a delay in waiting, "Your check-in appointment is dedicated to your screening, so arriving earlier will have you turned away until your time."

For guests that do not elect to get the app, they are missing out on the ability to make onboard plans and avoid crowds, track their own expenses and better plan their day.

The app will be how you conduct the onboard safety drill. This must be done before the ship sails and is required of all guests.  It can be completed through your stateroom television as an alternative to the app.

The app will also be how you make reservations for all dining, shore excursion, activity, and entertainment.

Royal Caribbean believes the app is just as much about convenience as it is providing contactless means to conduct daily cruise life activities.

Phones on a cruise?

The role of smart devices on a cruise has been a long-standing debate among cruise fans.

While most guests own smart devices, the question of if they prefer to use them or not on a cruise is a point of contention for some.

There are some cruisers who prefer to disconnect and leave their smart devices off while on a cruise because of a preference for simplicity.

kontraxed posted on the RoyalCaribbeanBlog message boards he always puts his phone away when he gets onboard, "Normally, the first thing I do when I get on a cruise ship is turn off my cell phone and put it in the safe...For me, that's bliss! "

Many other guests keep their phones with them and use them either sparingly, or avoid work-related functitons while on vacation.

Royal Caribbean app updated with easier ways to get to popular features

In:
24 Nov 2020

Royal Caribbean released a new update to its smartphone app that enhances the look, while adding new features for when cruises restart again.

Version 1.26.1 has been pushed out to users, and it includes a number of enhancements.

The most notable change is the home screen design, which makes popular features easily accessible, including check-in, boarding passes, dining and more.

The check-in process has been simplified and cleaned up as well, with the option for guests to select an arrival time, along with wellness screenings and pre-cruise health questions.

The addition of wellness check and health questionnaires is one of many changes Royal Caribbean is making in order to prepare for cruises to return in a world still dealing with the global health crisis.

On Quantum of the Seas cruises from Singapore, check-in times will be much more important so that the check-in/wellness screenings can be conducted efficiently.

Guests sailing on Quantum of the Seas have been informed their check-in appointment is dedicated for their screening, and arriving earlier will have them turned away until the designated time.

The Royal Caribbean app also has the guest safety briefing video added to it, which is part of the Muster 2.0 enhancement where guests will conduct the muster drill on their own, instead of as a group.

Royal Caribbean has developed and patented something it called eMuster™, and it gives guests the essential information in the app and your stateroom TV, allowing you to complete the briefing on your own time.

After going through the Muster 2.0 process in the app or stateroom TV,  you will just need to visit your assigned assembly station—a designated check-in location—before the ship sets sail, so a crew member can verify all the steps are completed. 

Read more6 really interesting facts about Royal Caribbean's new cruise safety drill

The app store also says guests will be able to view menus on their ship with the help of QR codes.

You can download the Royal Caribbean app from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Royal Caribbean adds virtual safety drill to mobile app

In:
06 Nov 2020

Royal Caribbean released a new update to its app that introduces the highly anticipated Muster 2.0 virtual safety drill feature.

Version 1.26.0 has been released to the Apple App Store, which adds two core features that will be critical for guests on cruise ships that need to foster social distancing.

The app update comes just weeks before Royal Caribbean is set to restart cruises in Singapore on Quantum of the Seas.

While there are no firm plans yet announced for when cruises might restart in the United States, test sailings could start as early as December.

Virtual safety drill

Earlier this summer, Royal Caribbean announced a new patented approach to use its smart phone app to conduct the safety drill onboard.

The Muster 2.0 feature has been added to the app, which Royal Caribbean describes as a "completely re-imagined onboard guest safety briefing".

The app features information and sends notifications to make sure you complete the briefing prior to the ship sailing. 

Travelers will be able to review the information at their own time prior to setting sail, eliminating the need for the traditional large group assemblies. 

After reviewing safety information individually, guests will complete the drill by visiting their assigned assembly station, where a crew member will verify that all steps have been completed and answer questions. Each of the steps will need to be completed prior to the ship’s departure, as required by international maritime law.

One on the cruise ship, guests have a set time (indicated by a timer in the app) during which muster drill must be completed by all of the passengers and, in response, a message is transmitted to each mobile device that the muster drill has commenced.

Read more6 really interesting facts about Royal Caribbean's new cruise safety drill

Excursion tickets

Another shift to digital comes in the form of shore excursion tickets are now available in the app.

Traditionally, Royal Caribbean would distribute paper tickets to guests for their excursions that were purchased through the cruise line.

With the app, guests can now avoid having paper tickets and rely on the app to provide that information to tour operators.

The app's version history notes that the digital excursion tickets replace "the need for paper tickets when possible", which sounds like paper tickets could still be utilized in some scenarios.

Thanks to Iuliana Scott for giving us a heads up on this news.

Is Royal Caribbean's chat feature coming to more ships?

In:
14 Oct 2020

A guest to guest chat feature has been the most highly anticipated feature in Royal Caribbean's app, and some cruisers think perhaps we are on the precipice of chat rolling out.

A number of RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers have shared screenshots from their Royal Caribbean app for upcoming cruises that have the chat feature enabled.

Royal Caribbean's chat option was in development before the cruise industry shutdown in early March, and was only available on Harmony of the Seas and Allure of the Seas in beta testing.

The chat icon has recently appeared on guests with cruises booked on Freedom of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas.

Thanks to Christian Monn, Brian McNichols and Luke Wallace for screenshots

Prior to the shutdown, Royal Caribbean confirmed it was targeting the third or fourth quarter of 2020 to roll out chat to all of its cruise ships.

There is no cost to use Royal Caribbean's app while onboard and you do not need an internet package to use the app either.

Will chat roll out to all ships?

While Royal Caribbean has acknowledged the chat feature is "the number one feature" guests are asking for, it is unclear if it really is ready on more ships or simply the app accidently showing the feature as active.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Royal Caribbean Group said the prolonged cruise shutdown has forced them to cut spending in a number of areas, including tech.

"In addition, we have reduced our planned capital spending through 2021, which may negatively impact our execution of planned growth strategies, particularly as it relates to investments in our ships, technology, and our expansion of land-based developments."

How does chat work?

The texting feature in Royal Caribbean's app works very similar to other texting apps you may have used in other apps.

Royal Caribbean's chat offers one-to-one guest chat, along with group chats.

Once onboard the ship and logged onto Royal Caribbean's Wi-Fi  network (no internet package required to use the app), other guests will show up as offline or online but are only online if they have the app opened and to the “chat” window.

If your travel agent linked your reservation before sailing with a friend or family the will automatically show up in your list of contacts. You also have the option of adding other guests.

The one feature the team was working on getting just right was the notification feature so that if you were not actively using the Royal Caribbean app, you would be notified of an incoming message.

Royal Caribbean's app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Royal Caribbean deck plans get bright new design on at least one ship

In:
09 Sep 2020

Royal Caribbean has introduced an updated look to its deck plans in its app on at least one Royal Caribbean ship.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Daniela T. shared screenshots of the updated deck plan designs that include a lot more color and depth to the look.

Old deck plan design from Mariner of the Seas

New deck plan design on Navigator of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's deck plans have traditionally been more utilitarian than eye-catching, but this new design seems to indicate a new direction for the deck plans that combines form and functionality.

As of right now, it looks like just Navigator of the Seas' deck plans have been updated in the app, but other ships could be updated later on with the new look as well.

 

The new maps should automatically appear for anyone with an upcoming Navigator of the Seas sailing. Keep in mind that if your cruise is not scheduled in the next few months, you may not be able to access it yet via the app.

You can download the Royal Caribbean app from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Royal Caribbean will use its mobile app to keep guests safe when cruises resume

In:
08 Sep 2020

When cruises restart, Royal Caribbean's app will play its largest role yet in becoming the focal point for a healthy return to cruising.

Royal Caribbean Group announced on Tuesday it intends to leverage its mobile app for paving a way for a safe return to cruising.

Royal Caribbean's app already offered a variety of features and capabilities, but will grow to include more functionality including:

  • Muster 2.0 – one of the least-loved, but most important, parts of a cruise vacation – the safety drill – is transformed from a process designed for large groups of people into a faster, more personal “one-to-few” approach that guests can complete at their own time.
  • Scheduled arrival time – staggered arrival times for guests help eliminate crowds by managing the ebb-and-flow in parking lots, drop-off areas and terminals to allow for physical distancing from car to stateroom.
  • Expedited boarding – by completing check-in with the app, scanning passport information and uploading a ‘selfie’ security photo, guests can generate a mobile boarding pass and qualify for an expedited boarding process. Debuted in 2018, the innovative, digital experience minimizes check-in and security lines at ports, allowing guests to get on board seamlessly and safely in minutes.

  • Digital key – guests can unlock staterooms with their smartphones by downloading a digital key, available in just a few taps for select ships and staterooms.
  • Stateroom automation – using their smartphone, guests have the ability to control elements inside their stateroom, such as the TV, lighting, window shades and temperature, limiting touchpoints while achieving higher levels of stateroom customization.
  • Onboard account – guests can view onboard charges and credits in real time from anywhere on the ship without waiting in line or on hold.
  • Daily planning – onboard activities, entertainment shows, dining and shore excursions are viewable and open for reservations all through the guest mobile app.

Royal Caribbean expects more advancements to be added to the app, including some changes that will take place "behind the scenes".

The mobile app is leveraged by ships across many Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara ships.

In a statement to the press, Royal Caribbean Group believes the app is one piece of the overall strategy in keeping guests healthy and safe, "These innovations will further demonstrate the Group’s commitment to exceeding guests’ expectations as well as their standards for health and safety on a cruise."

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