How Smart Do We Want Our Ships to Be?


We’re so excited that Dave, who runs one of our favourite cruise blogs, Shipmonk, has put together this post for us on cruise ship technology. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

You can play live Xbox games with rivals on land. Or video conference another passenger. Or stream films in your cabin.

There’s a world of possibility on Quantum of the Seas, and its forthcoming sister Anthem, thanks to a dedicated team of low-orbit satellites. Gone are the days of long waits for poor wifi connections with passengers tearing their hair out in frustration as the bills mount up.

Of course, superfast broadband isn’t the only technical innovation on Royal Caribbean’s latest ship. There is North Star, which carries passengers 300ft above the waves, a skydiving simulator and dodgem cars, as well as favourites like the surf machine.

Then there are the apps and fast check-in which allow you to get ‘from sidewalk to ship’ in a matter of minutes and help sort out your dinner reservations at the tap of a tablet. Every member of crew is being issued with their own portable computer to speed up the system.

And forget room cards which stop working every time they are placed near a phone. Now you have a wristband that acts as your key and your onboard spending card.

A lot of the technology is hidden away too, making the ship more ecological and fuel efficient.

There is no doubt that much of this innovation is A Good Thing. Indeed, Royal Caribbean boasts that it is giving passengers back their first day on board, when typically they would be waiting in long lines to embark then dashing around, making dinner reservations and booking spa treatments.

But how smart do passengers need to be to use the smart technology? Of course, the cruise line says you don’t have to use the new systems and crew will help with any problems, though some guests will still feel intimidated.

To some extent, are we moving stress away from the first day on board to weeks ahead as passengers compete to be the first to book everything from meals to massages online? Instead of leather-bound wallets arriving with paper tickets and proper luggage tags, is everything now down to home printers and apps?

Once on board, will we have a tight schedule controlled by our smartphone of where to eat, what to do and how to spend our time? Will it become less easy to act on impulse?

The brave new world of Quantum is a dream as long as the technology works – the winds aren’t too strong for North Star, the robot bartenders don’t go on strike and the satellites don’t cut out.

The ground-breaking features are bound to appeal to thousands of people – particularly younger ones – who would never have considered a holiday at sea before. But for many traditional cruisers the bright lights, noise, gimmicks and gizmos could be an unwelcome distraction from what they still see as the most spectacular – natural – aspects of being at sea: the warm breeze, the sound of the waves, the sight of shimmering sunsets and spending quiet moments together peering at the twinkling stars from the deck.

Quantum of the Seas Cruise Deals

Images via Royal Caribbean Press Center

How Smart Do We Want Our Ships to Be?
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How Smart Do We Want Our Ships to Be?
Dave Monk, who blogs at, shares his thoughts on cruise ship technology.

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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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