Advances to its mobile app will play a major role in Royal Caribbean Group's return-to-service plan, as the line looks to eliminate touch points and crowding.
According to Royal, many of the app's digital innovations were already in the works before the Covid-19 pandemic, as the company had been looking to eliminate what it says are typically considered the "primary pain points of travel: lines, crowds and paper".
Now those advances will play a key role in enabling Royal's three brands – Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara – to resume service more safely on their 63 ships, according to the company.
"Initially developed for guests to make the most of their vacation, the app's capabilities make it a powerful solution that can integrate today's new crucial health and safety practices, such as physical distancing and minimising common touch points," Royal said in a statement.
A number of features and capabilities within the Royal app will be released in different combinations across the three brands.
One example is the recently announced safety drill makeover, Muster 2.0, which was in development for more than a year but coincides perfectly with the need to prevent crowding during the muster drill.
Another is using the app to stagger passengers' arrival times to eliminate crowds by in port parking lots, drop-off areas and inside terminals to allow for physical distancing from "car to stateroom".
The line will also use the app to expedite boarding by enabling users to complete check-in, scan their passport, upload a "selfie" and generate a mobile boarding pass; download a "digital key" to unlock their cabins; use their smartphone to control stateroom functions such as the TV, lighting, window shades and temperature; keeping track of their onboard account; and using the app to plan onboard activities such as booking shows, dining and shore excursions.
Royal and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings are working together to develop health and safety protocols for cruising in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic, via a Healthy Sail Panel.
This article was first published in Travel Weekly.