With tech-savvy guests taking its river cruises, AmaWaterways decided to upgrade its onboard infotainment systems, wifi and video options
AmaWaterways is introducing a new infotainment system aboard its European ships which is geared to the needs of increasingly tech-savvy passengers and a younger demographic of river cruisers.
Travellers want access to the same technology on board that they use in their daily lives. Cruise Line International Association notes cruise lines have adopted technology for cruise travellers – including keychains, necklaces, bracelets, apps and more – to provide a highly personalised travel experience while on and off the ship.
The California-based river cruise line’s vice president operations Jon Burrows says “When it comes to the in-stateroom comfort and amenities, we have noticed that more guests are coming with their own devices – laptops, iPads or smartphones. They no longer needed to use our Macs, so we decided to free up valuable desktop space in the staterooms by embedding the entertainment system behind the vanity mirror.”
For 2021, the combined information and entertainment platform has been installed on four ships; the new 156-passenger AmaSiena and AmaLucia and recently refurbished AmaBella and AmaVerde. Over the next two years, the system will be rolled out across the line’s 16 other ships sailing on the Danube, Rhine, Main and Moselle.
Expanding on the decision to install the system, which is complimentary to guests and includes upgraded wifi, computer-like functionality, enhanced television viewing and video-on-demand options, Mr Burrows tells Passenger Ship Technology “AmaWaterways has always been known for innovation in river cruising. We are always looking to not only meet, but exceed the expectations of our guests. The average age of river cruisers has continued to drop, and they are very tech-savvy travellers. Many are working remotely while travelling so we need to ensure our systems keep abreast of their need for constant connectivity. The devices, software environments and platforms have become more sophisticated and as we were outfitting two new ships and renovating two others, the time was right to start the upgrade process of our systems.”
Other features of the system include documentaries linked to the cruise itineraries, a personalised message and bill view, and a Google map tracing the route of the ship. Using a remote-control keypad, passengers can switch the TV screen into a computer screen to access the virtual computer desktop. In addition to surfing the internet and sending emails, they can create documents using word processing or spreadsheet programs and print airline boarding passes via a dedicated guest laser printer. The cruise feedback questionnaire has also been added to the infotainment system.
Mr Burrows says the stateroom hardware and internet infrastructure enhancement also includes increasing the number of access points throughout the ships and installing Peplink routers with MediaFast content caching technology with built-in SSD storage.
He adds “These have the ability to cache on our own servers the most popular websites visited for faster connection the next time someone accesses the same site. We now have microwave connectivity to terrestrial access points and dishes in many locations throughout the river network, increasing internet speed and bandwidth. We can even connect using fibre-optic capabilities in some ports. Onboard SIM cards are now 4G LTE. All of this means bigger bandwidth and faster speeds. This has also resulted in enhanced gangway security utilising remote scanners.”
New app developed
Highlighting other new technology developments, Mr Burrows says the improved passenger app myAmaCruise is supported by the ship system to allow passengers to sign up for shore excursions, and GPS antennas used by the Quietvox wireless tour guide devices trigger POI commentary for passengers on thousands of mapped points of interest on the cruise, such as towns, bridges and monuments.
AmaWaterways co-owner and executive vice president Kristin Karst concludes “Our guests are tech-savvy and more connected than ever. Their needs have evolved, accessing news services, social media, and photo sharing, as well as the onboard daily programmes, excursion details and frequently continuing to work while cruising with us. We first introduced complimentary wifi and a sophisticated infotainment system with Apple computers in each stateroom more than 10 years ago and we have been upgrading our content, connectivity and speed ever since. This new phase of development will again improve the service level, enhance our security system plus an added benefit is that the change in hardware will free up space in our staterooms; a win-win for the guest experience.”
Princess Cruises goes ‘touchless’
Princess Cruises will feature touchless Ocean Medallion technology on all its ships when cruising resumes. The fleetwide MedallionClass Experience will also offer new features to personalise passengers’ onboard experience, as well as support new health protocols.
The size of a 10p coin, the wearable medallion replaces cabin key cards and offers a host of other capabilities including on-demand food and drink services, interactive game playing and a voyage timeline with the facility for bespoke itinerary planning.
In recent months, the line has been expanding the number of its ‘smart’ vessels and when cruising restarts, Coral Princess, Diamond Princess, Emerald Princess, Grand Princess, Island Princess, Majestic Princess, Sapphire Princess and the new 3,660-passenger Enchanted Princess will join the existing MedallionClass ships.
Other medallion functions include touchless embarkation and disembarkation, contactless payments, simplified passenger safety training prior to sailing and guest service requests via mobile device chat.
Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz says “Innovation is allowing us to pair guidance from public health experts with the unparalleled touch-free capabilities of the Ocean Medallion, honouring our commitment to health and safety, while continuing to reinvent and simplify the experience all together.
“During this downtime we’ve worked behind the scenes to re-engineer our operation to give guests maximum control of their cruise holiday, as well as to activate the Princess MedallionClass Experience on all of our ships.”
OceanMedallion connects passengers and crew to an experiential IoT platform through a network of sensors and readers that help recognise individuals in locations throughout the ship, facilitating touchless capabilities that include a highly personalised service and interactive entertainment, while also reducing contact between guests and crew on board and in ports.
Chief experience and innovation officer for Carnival Corporation, the parent company of Princess, John Padgett adds “The same technology we’ve used to simplify and personalise the guest experience on our Princess MedallionClass ships for the past three years is now being further leveraged to safeguard our guests and crew as well. That means the smartest ships at sea are now enabling intelligence-driven safety processes via the Ocean Medallion.”
Riviera will provide free technical and operational webinars in 2021. Sign up to attend on our events page