In a world where constant connectivity is the norm, cruise ships are at a disadvantage. They’re out at sea and often out of range of traditional high-speed Internet. Yet, travelers expect the same kinds of digital choices and speeds they enjoy on land.
That’s why cruise lines such as Princess Cruises are looking to upgrade their Internet access and speeds. Derrin Brown, Manager of Entertainment Operations, puts it simply: “The top line for us is catching up with land-based choice.”
Brown says Princess Cruises is implementing a new platform, which the company thinks is as a “game changer,” for improving the digital experience on ships.
“We’re implementing dedicated satellite connections to improve the speed of things and deliver more information about every option that’s available for each passenger’s leisure within the ship,” he says. “And we’re rolling that out across the fleet.”
Beyond personal devices, a cruise ship is a massive, dynamic platform for ubiquitous audiovisual information and entertainment experiences. “We’re constantly trying to catch up with what’s happening on land,” Brown continues. “What does that mean? It means lots and lots of TVs and video displays everywhere around the ship, within the passenger areas and the cabins, using the latest display technology.”
Throughout each ship, there are dedicated entertainment spaces, with displays, audio systems and lighting. “Theatrical spaces, music venues, movie theaters,” Brown says. “Then, of course, we have all the external venues, the pool decks. There, we have the giant displays for movies under the stars.”
One trend in on-board sound systems, especially in the large entertainment spaces, is an evolution from a left-right-front presentation, like a traditional music concert, to more immersive 360-degree sound systems, where every listening position is a “good seat.”
How do passengers navigate a staggering array of choices? “We need to make them aware of what is available to them, and then provide wayfinding through digital signage and displays, to get them to the venues on time,” says Brown. When they arrive, for example, at a dining room, the experience follows them. “We have architectural lighting for each of the different restaurants and venues with multiple settings throughout the day. The audio is specially selected. Everything is integrated and designed for a pleasurable, quality experience. It’s a really dynamic, evolving challenge.”