It’s bigger than most hotels, carries more food than a hypermarket, weighs 167800 tonnes and runs to a length of 1145 feet. Usually, that would be melodramatic enough for me to carry on about a cruise ship with such specs. Fortunately these mind boggling numbers tell you only a small part of the story. The Quantum of the Seas from the Royal Caribbean Cruise line is a ship than could easily be termed the most techie ship in the world. A SmartShip!
Of late, my quest is to find amazing technology in unusual places. Tech in a smartphone or a TV or laptop is interesting but expected – but mind boggling and out of the box tech in a hotel, at an airport, inside an aircraft or around a smart city is truly where your jaw drops. Thus, this quest led me to a ship that seems to have been designed and planned from the ground up with futuristic technology at its core.
Even before I boarded the ship, technology came out and touched me. My baggage and I were both tagged with WOW. These are RFID Bands and luggage tags that make life easy on the ship. My band was my identity, my key to enter my room and other places, my navigation system in case I was lost on this giant city of a ship as well as my credit card to pay for anything on the ship. My luggage also got tagged with similar technology and showed up immediately on the Royal IQ app. From here I could track the journey my bags took, where they were and when they were finally delivered to my stateroom.
But that’s just a very small part of what you can do with the the Royal IQ app. The app is your PA on the ship. It helps you make reservations at any event or place, manage your luggage, book your dinner tables, customise your voyage, set up all your schedules and a whole lot more much. You can even talk to other guests on the ship as well as make ship-to-shore calls billed on a per minute basis.
As you come to terms with the fact that you are literally in a giant city with shopping malls, multiple restaurants, 2,090 double occupancy staterooms, multiple event and performance halls, swimming pools dotted all around, an army of people to take care of you, bumper cars and other sports and fun activities strewn around like confetti – you then start to discover the real tech around. The Bionic bar where two robotic barmen can whip you up any drink with no human intervention at all starts it all. Then, there is the Two 70 degrees hall where 18 Robotic Projectors combine to make a canvas, which is 100 feet wide and over 20 feet tall – for digital state of the art entertainment. Six 100 inch screens attached to robot arms soar, spin, twist away from each other and then come together to make for fascinating performances. Next up is the North Star – a spaceship-like pod that takes you 300 feet above sea level for a breathtaking 360 degree view of the sea. The completely transparent pod is attached to a 135 foot arm that can extend up to an 80 degree angle and moves deep into the sea and gives you the feeling that you are hovering in a helicopter just above the water. Rip Cord by iFly was my next stop where a huge see-through air tunnel gives you the ability to fly. The flying lessons are easy and I was flying and somersaulting like a pro in no time. Then, I came out of the iFly and went straight into another technological marvel – The Surf Rider. It is a simulated surf wave system where you can hit the waves and learn surfboard tricks without crashing out even once. Las Vegas style performances at the Music Hall, utilising laser and light technology lights years ahead rounded off the night.
It’s interesting to see how technology has made a huge difference in leisure and luxury areas like cruise ships. It has made it easier to use all the facilities on board, helped you to discover the unknown and also made sure that you don’t miss out on some of the things that you came for. Even more interesting was my observation as to how easily people have adapted to what seemed like a fairly complex level of features at first glance. Its a great step forward in utilising the potential of new innovations from the world of technology in building a real Smart ship. I wonder where my adventures of discovering tech in unusual places will take me next?