Those about to set sail on their very first cruise will have a significantly different experience than what cruise ship passengers have enjoyed for decades thanks in large part to the adoption of smart technology on cruise ships by the major cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, and MSC.
For example, Carnival’s Princess Cruise Line brand, is providing its passengers with a quarter-sized disc they call an “Ocean Medallion”, which is a smart device that can be worn like a bracelet, pendant, clip, or simply kept it in your pocket or bag and will allow passengers to book meals, spa treatments, excursions, play interactive gaming, unlock a stateroom door, and supposedly speed up embarkation.
Passengers can also use the device to order food and drinks and have them ready or delivered almost anywhere on the ship. Passengers will even be able to buy cruise ship portrait photographs and enter their cabins without a key, using touch or tap, much like the keyless door entry on a Mercedes or BMW.
The Ocean Medallion interacts with thousands of hidden sensors throughout the ship that will personalize the cruising experience in ways that were never before possible. For example, the technology will learn what a passenger likes and does not like and will use these preferences to make suggestions.
The Medallions are included in the price of a Princess Ocean Medallion Cruise and is shipped to passengers in advance of their cruise at no additional charge so that they can connect them to their smartphones to start using the devices before they even board the ship. And of course, there will be extra accessories available for sale for those who want to personalize their devices, much like a cellphone case.
The device’s data can also be saved and reused by the passenger subsequent Ocean Medallion Cruises. And while the devices are not mandatory, Princess and Carnival certainly encourage passengers to use them to improve and enhance their cruising experience.
As a cruise ship passenger injury attorney, I have concerns about both safety and privacy with this device and others. My biggest question is whether or not a device can be used to access a stateroom by someone other than the passenger; what if the device is lost or stolen? What fail-safes does Carnival have in place to prevent a third party from entering a stateroom, or making charges on another’s account if a device is hacked or stolen?
As for privacy, it is certainly understandable that some people may not want to have their every movement on the cruise ship tracked by the geo-technology in the device and documented by Princess. Perhaps for a variety of reasons someone may want to steal away and get a spa treatment, head to the casino, or enjoy a romantic moment without the cruise line and its team of marketers and others following them.
One of the best things about cruising is it allows people to disconnect from our “online” existences. I like the fact sea days allow me to sit on a balcony and read, or enjoy a leisurely meal without having to see or be seen. Yes, this technology is great, but it’s certainly not for everyone. In our next installment, we will look at the latest technology from Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and MSC.