Cunard isn’t the only cruise line pumping up its fleet with top-notch I.T. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has recently launched its two newest vessels, the Mariner of the Seas (November 2003) and the Jewel of the Seas (April 2004), and IT Manager Doug Jones says that they’re the most technologically advanced ships in Royal Caribbean’s 28-ship fleet.
Like the Queen Mary 2, those ships have core systems that include property management and point-of-sale systems. They also have wireless access points in many of the public spaces. And passengers are issued smart identification cards that they use for purchases, as a room key, and as a security card to track them as they embark and disembark. Unlike the QM2’s card, however, they do not include passport information.
Internet access in cabins is offered to the crews via a thin-client device. “They communicate via e-mail to friends and family. In some cases, they can do financial transactions, such as online banking,” says Jones. He also hopes to complete a direct-deposit project this year for crew members; that’s an important benefit, given that it’s been difficult for staff to receive bank statements in the mail because of their floating addresses. Passengers can access the Internet in their cabins if they bring their own laptops; otherwise, they can surf in one of the public Internet cafŽs.
The biggest news coming out of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines? The company has ordered what it’s calling the Ultra Voyager, a new ship from a Finnish shipbuilding company, with delivery scheduled for May 2006. At just under 160,000 tons and with capacity for 3,600 passengers, the Ultra Voyager will make the QM2’s reign as the world’s biggest cruise ship a brief one.