Androids man the decks as Royal Caribbean goes hi-tech

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Royal Caribbean International has introduced robot waiters and what it says is the fastest internet service at sea on its newest smart ships as it aims to woo more tech-savvy cruise guests.

The US company, which operates cruises from Dubai that take in Abu Dhabi, Khasab and Muscat in Oman, recently unveiled its new offerings on the US$1 billion Ovations of the Seas, part of its Quantum fleet.

Passengers aboard ships such as Quantum of the Seas can now enjoy the services of custom-made androids that serve up concoctions at the Bionic Bar. Designed by the researchers at the MIT Senseable City Lab in collaboration with Coca-Cola and others, the facility has guests place orders via tablets. The robotic bartenders then work their magic mixing mocktails among other things.

Meanwhile, Two70 is home to a troupe of six Robo-screens that stage surprise performances, creating scenes while soaring and twisting solo, or uniting as one.

The cruise line has also invested in outfitting vessels including its Harmony of the Seas – the world's largest cruise ship – with VOOM, which provides all guests with the high-speed internet most people now expect. The technology uses a satellite that targets each ship individually. The company says the high-speed connection means that surfing, streaming and sharing is faster and easier, no matter where in the world you are.

“Technology is changing the way people travel and we are responding to that,” said Sean Tracey, Royal Caribbean’s managing director for Singapore and South East Asia.

Royal Caribbean is not the only cruise company that is investing in technological innovations to reach out to millennials and enhance customers’ experience on board.

Disney Cruise Line's Disney Fantasy, the sister ship to the Dream, offers a 3D movie theatre among other high-tech features.

Both ships include Enchanted Art that comes to life as you approach, moving from a static scene to an animation.

Meanwhile, Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Epic offers several video gaming venuesand the ship also employs facial recognition for matching guests to photos captured on board, making it easy to locate pictures you might want to purchase. Additionally, there are more than 10,000 wireless access points to keep guests and crew connected throughout the Epic, supporting the iConcierge app, which guests can use to talk and text with other guests on the ship.

Carnival Cruise, Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises among others are also ramping up their delivery of technological upgrades.

Royal Caribbean has also installed cutting-edge "virtualbalcony" technology in every interior stateroom onboard Quantum of the Seas, which features ocean views and scenery from the destination ports.

Guests can also experience Vistarama – floor-to-ceiling glass walls that “transform into an expansive ambient surface that projects any scene, real or imagined, including the multidimensional performance spectacle, Starwater”, the company says.

“Smart living is a huge part of the Royal Caribbean experience no matter which ship, and mind-blowing technology can be found at every turn. Everything is designed to make the guests’ experience interesting, easy – and simply fun,” the cruise line gushes.

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