The partnership between technology and cruise ships is not something entirely new. The cruise industry has always been seeking the help of technology to give passengers a seamless travel experience. However, after the Covid-19, technology in the cruise industry has become more relevant and more crucial. Cruise lines were among those first industries to get heavily affected by the emergence of the Covid-19 last year. However, as the industry is all set to restart its operations, the cruise ships now have to concentrate on only on providing an effortless journey but also a safe journey. In the post-pandemic world, concepts like contactless and physical distancing have become the basis of all health protocols. The technology can help ensure all the health protocols and reduce the chances of passengers' exposure to any harmful diseases.
Furthermore, socialization is the aesthetic of the cruise experience. Therefore, cruise ships will be even more challenging to preserve that aesthetic appeal without compromising their client's health. Whereas significant cruise line restart dates and plans are yet to be confirmed, here is how technology will help the cruise lines to restart their operations:
Just like the airports where you do not have to come in human contact before the security, cruise ships are also trying to reshape the entire boarding process by making it as contactless as possible. The cruise ships are now offering online check-in facilities to reduce human interaction. When physical distancing has become so much of your interest, no industry can afford long queues. It eliminates all the paperwork and sends your boarding pass on your mobile. At the same time, biometric technology is making the whole reshaping process a lot easier. With facial recognition and passport scanning at work, everything becomes touchless.
A significant example can be Royal Caribbean's seamless check-in, where passengers can take a selfie and scan their passports. In addition, MSC Cruise is using Artificial Intelligence to guide the passengers throughout the check-in procedure. Therefore, it is safe to say that the self-check-in, mobile boarding pass, and facial recognition will be helping the cruise industry to meet the customer's expectations on safety protocols.
Virtual safety drills:
Unlike the air voyage, the preparation of the sea voyage starts long before the journey itself. Cruise journey involves several risks of emergencies, and the travelers must be educated on how to react to those situations. This is where the importance of safety drills comes. Safety drills constitute a substantial portion of sea journeys and help cruise ships ensure the safety of the passengers on board. Every cruise ship must organize such safety drills before the trip for its passengers. However, in the face of the current health emergency, conducting safety drills could paradoxically be unsafe for the passengers as they have to gather in a place. A leading name in the cruise industry, Royal Caribbean had to develop an alternative plan to conduct the safety drills while adhering to the health restrictions. They refurbished the entire process with a new muster technology which eliminates the requirement of gathering the passengers. With this technology, all the safety information is sent to your smartphones or smart TVs. The passengers need to review all that information and complete the drill at an assigned center. A crew member will verify and guide them throughout the entire process. Royal Caribbean also licenses this technology to other cruise operators to make the safety drill procedure convenient for all.
Changes at the terminal:
Along with the check-in process and safety drills, the guests will be witnessing a lot more changes in the terminal in the post-pandemic period. Many airports are now taking the help of thermal imaging cameras to get an idea about the guests' health conditions before boarding. The cruise industry is now ready to follow a similar path. They are planning to install such high-tech cameras at the terminal. These cameras will test the body temperature of the travelers and send the data to the medical team on board in real-time. It will help the authorities to decide if their guests are fit to board or not. Carnival has announced plans to adopt thermal scanning at their terminal to ensure safety for their guests. They also have tied up with Infrared Cameras Inc. for this purpose. The cruises will perhaps use this technology not only in the terminal but also for monitoring the temperature of their passengers throughout their journey. Other technologies like air filtration and UV lighting can also be helpful to maintain health standards in the terminal.
Telemedicine as an alternative to in-person consultation has been gaining popularity for the past few years. But, with the emergence of a pandemic, it has become a necessity. For the cruise industry, telemedicine services at sea have more significance altogether. Telemedicine, with its remote clinical services, can help the guests and the crew members alike. SeaConsult is a telehealth solution developed by Tritan Software to enable cruise ships to offer their passengers and crew members. The company claims that with this system at work, the passengers do not have to leave their cabin and have a virtual consultation with the onboard medical team using their devices. As an addition to voice and chat, this new-age software also supports video consultation. The company has been trying their best to update its software with all the processes associated with Covid-19. There is no doubt that technology and cruise ships are working together to safeguard the guests as Tritan Software is now working with most of the notable names in the world cruise industry.
Post-pandemic onboard experience:
Given the latest health crisis, the post-pandemic onboard life is going to be a lot more different than its pre-pandemic counterpart. From fewer guests to physical distancing to the masks, everything will be a part of onboard life. However, contactless technology will always be at play to ensure the maintenance of health standards. To provide a safe environment in the rooms through deep sanitization, the cabin crew will seek the cleaning bots' help. Cruise ships will be using apps that will serve the purposes of key cards. From controlling the room temperature to ordering the room service, everything will be via apps. The intelligent room technology will make the journey more comfortable for the guests. They will book any services like restaurant tables and pay for the same through the apps. The cabin members will use the apps to deliver all kinds of information, including daily sanitization schedules and dinner invitations. To decentralize the crowd at the dining place, the ships can use virtual queuing apps. It will help to avoid packed lunch or dinner buffets. The operators are also using geo-locating wristbands to track friends and families in the ship.
Certain technologies were already in existence even before the pandemic, but they were considered a mere luxury. However, today, they have come to the forefront to help the crush ships restart their operations. There is no specific answer to the question: "when will cruises resume in 2021?" But, as customer satisfaction is the main guiding factor in the post-pandemic world, technology and cruise ships will go hand in hand to ensure that all the health standards are in place. It may seem to be the end of the era of a personal touch, but the experts are hopeful that technology will augment communication with the crew.
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