IT in Cruise, 2019 – Key dates (Part 1); 2019 proved to be another exciting year for cruise in general, with digital growth in the cruise industry being particularly robust. As part of TheICEway ecosystem, ICE Technology Services has specialised in IT for cruise for more than 20 years, so we are certainly feeling positive ahead of the new year. Here we look back at some of the key dates from the January to June period…
The start of the year saw The Telegraph publishing an article about Carnival Cruise’s announcement that they would be launching the world’s first cruise ship to feature a roller coaster. Yes, that’s right – a roller coaster. Coming in the summer of 2019, Carnival’s next new ship – the ‘Mardi Gras’ – will feature BOLT, a motor-cycle inspired attraction that is suspended 187 feet above the sea. Until then though, cruise-loving thrill-seekers will have to make do with the zip line aboard Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, or the go-kart tracks on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Joy...
This development offers further proof of the growing expectations passengers have, expectations that the cruise industry must cater towards if it wishes to continue enjoying the success it has found in recent years.
In February there were a variety of stories based upon the upcoming launch of MSC’s newest ‘crew member’, Zoe; essentially the cruise industry version of Alexa.
Found aboard the MSC Bellissima, Zoe is powered by AI and can answer more than 800 questions in seven different languages. There are thousands of question variants too, meaning that guests on board can easily access information about the services and activities available to them during their cruise holiday.
Perhaps a more obvious example of digital innovation than the roller coaster described above, but nevertheless both these additions serve to illustrate the growing importance of IT systems on the modern cruise ship.
2019 was a record-setting year for new cruise ships as two dozen entered service, and March saw the introduction of the hugely anticipated, £1 billion MSC Bellissima, a particular highlight.
Here are 5 facts about this ‘super ship’:
1. MSC Bellissima is the 6th largest ship in the world and the largest ever to be named in the UK
2. The ship's deck surface area is the equivalent to 63 football pitches
3. The ship features glass staircases that are filled with Swarovski crystals
4. The ship features ‘MSC for Me’ technology, connecting guests to each other, to the crew and to the ship itself
5. The ship is home to the world’s first digital cruise assistant, Zoe (see above), an AI device fitted in every cabin
In April co-founder and CEO of TheICEway, Ian Richardson, was invited to speak at the annual Seatrade Cruise Global Conference in Miami. Richardson, who also Chairs the CLIA Executive Partner Technology Initiative, led a Q&A session entitled ‘Cruise Hyper-Connectivity: The Opportunities and Threats for the industry’.
With LEO satellites being launched in greater numbers, internet bandwidth is now more accessible and affordable than ever before, with a huge impact for cruise, so the session was used to delve into this in greater detail.
Also attended by Daniele Buonaiuto from MSC Cruises, Jason Grant of the Holland America Group, Nick Pietrocarlo from Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and CLIA’s own Joost van Ree, the session did that and more, touching upon internet connectivity, IoT, passenger experience, digital twinning and cyber security.
At the start of May, Cruise Industry News released the 2019 Financial Tracking Report, which compared results for the following major cruise companies from 1993 to 2018:
Carnival | Royal Caribbean | Norwegian | MSC | Genting
The report featured total revenue, net income, operating expenses, operating income and net income per passenger per day, revealing that Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian all posted their highest net income overall in 2018.
June saw the CLIA Executive Partner Technology Initiative Round Table Event take place in Hamburg, where those in attendance were split into groups to discuss topics such as operational efficiency, guest experience, cyber security and environmental sustainability, before a wider discussion on preparing for growth was held.
You can read more about that here but suffice it to say that all these subjects will continue to dominate the agenda at the major cruise industry calendar events in 2020. Digital transformation in the cruise industry has been such in recent years that guest experience is now a far different one to what it used to be back in 1988, for example, when 3 million passengers set sail – roughly 10% of the passenger numbers we’re seeing today.
Cyber-attacks both on and offshore are on the rise, with IoT just one area of concern for those in cyber security, and sustainability is becoming a key factor for everyone involved in the cruise industry. This new decade is going to be a very interesting one, and we at TheICEway are certainly going to do all that we can to ensure it is interesting for all the right reasons, with a huge focus on self-education to keep up with the technological advances that will be made.
Alexa – Amazon Alexa, more commonly known simply as ‘Alexa’, is a virtual assistant Artificial Intelligence developed by Amazon and used domestically to play music and get information, news, weather updates and more.
AI – Artificial Intelligence; sometimes called machine intelligence in computer science, AI is intelligence demonstrated by machines.
Seatrade Cruise Global Conference – An annual event in the cruise industry that is regarded by many as being a key event in the cruise calendar.
CLIA – The Cruise Lines International Association is the world's largest cruise industry association, bringing the cruise industry together.
CLIA Executive Partner Technology Initiative – An advisory council established in 2018 within CLIA, with the main goal of helping the cruise industry solve challenges with technology.
LEO satellites – Low Earth Orbit satellites; these operate at 500-2,000 km above the surface of the Earth, compared to the typical 36,000 km height of more traditional satellites. They are mainly used for data communication (email and video conferencing, for example).
IoT – Internet of Things; a network of interconnected devices that are able to collect and exchange data through sensors and software, making them responsive.
Digital Twinning – the mapping of a physical asset to a digital platform, this uses data from sensors on the asset to analyse its real-time status.
Stay tuned to our Innovation Hub if you are eager to find out which stories TheICEway has picked out from the final six months of 2019, and if you are keen to meet with our Cruise IT experts keep an eye out for us at the major cruise industry events in 2020 - we’ll be at Seatrade Global in April, for example…
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