How AI Technology is Improving Onboard Guest Experience

How AI Technology is Improving Onboard Guest Experience

With more cruise lines adopting AI technology each year, it is no surprise that by 2026, the global cruise travel AI market is estimated to surpass $12 billion. The use of AI technology has only been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, playing a key part in tracking and tracing schemes, as well as helping to reduce physical contact. This was something we recently explored in our article, How are Cruise Lines Adapting to COVID-19? But how are cruise lines using AI technology to improve guest experience?

Facial recognition technology

Carnival Corporation first introduced its OceanMedallion concept in 2017. Since then, wearables have become widely used in cruise for room keys, bookings, and more recently, contact tracing. However, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises are going an extra step with facial recognition technology. Unlike wearables, facial recognition technology does not require any extra steps from passengers, allowing for a seamless guest experience.

Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises have made strides in developing their facial recognition technology to bring the check-in process from car to bar down to 10 minutes or less. Passengers upload a photo with their passport information using the cruise lines’ apps prior to arrival. This enables Customs and Border Protection’s facial recognition software to process passengers quicker by eliminating paperwork and additional screening time.

Royal Caribbean have also partnered with Microsoft to retrofit their existing onboard CCTV cameras with smart technology. This allows for the cruise line to monitor the build-up of people, allowing for congestion to be detected, so staff can direct guests and prevent long queues building up.

Virtual assistants

Following the popularity of Alexa in many homes, it felt like only a matter of time before virtual assistants began appearing in the hospitality sector. In February 2019, MSC Cruises, in collaboration with Samsung-owned HARMAN Connected Services, launched the first virtual personal cruise assistant at sea, ZOE.

First launched on MSC Bellissima, ZOE can be found in every cabin of all new MSC ships. This free to use personal cruise assistant can be accessed by guests 24/7, and speaks seven languages. ZOE also learns and adapts through every interaction to better assist guests. This includes programmed responses to over 800 commonly asked questions. By simply saying “OK ZOE,” guests can reserve restaurants and excursions, check their bill, ask cruise-related questions, power off items and more. However, ZOE will not replace human interactions on board, but rather enhance them. This is achieved by providing guests with the opportunity to discover and communicate in the comfort of their staterooms. The result? MSC Cruises has taken its guest experience to an exciting new level.

The future of AI technology in cruise

As AI technology continues to advance at an increasingly fast rate, we expect to see cruise lines adopting it for a wider variety of uses in the future. One of these comes in the form of profiling guest demographics and behaviour for making tailored cruise excursion recommendations. Royal Caribbean is also looking to allow guests to customise their staterooms using AI programmes. This would allow guests to digitally change the colours and designs of the room’s floors, ceilings, and walls.


Are you interested in learning about the latest innovations in cruise hospitality? Register for Cruise Ship Hospitality Expo and meet with the largest names in cruise. Join us at the Miami Beach Convention Center on 28 – 29 October 2021 for this unmissable event.



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