Research Insights Navigating the digital wave of cruise tech

Navigating the digital wave of cruise tech

June 2023
Phocuswright Research

If anything positive came out of the pandemic for the cruise industry, it may be the acceleration of innovative ideas and technological enhancements by the cruise lines. According to Phocuswright’s latest travel research report on the cruise segment Navigating the Digital Wave: Cruise Tech Post-COVID the industry is increasingly advancing technology in a multitude of ways, from online booking to check-in, to enhancing the onboard customer experience and accelerating sustainability efforts.

In the face of mounting cancellations and refunds, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean Group rapidly built new technology to swiftly process the status and tracking of cancellations, refunds and FCCs.

On the consumer side, many companies have simplified the shopping and booking experience, making it more understandable and easier to navigate. Many websites are continuously getting more intuitive and better at driving the customer to the right cruise. New advisor-specific tools and innovations offer agents and guests personalized offers and promotions with the goal of ensuring that every trip is distinctive and more rewarding.

To keep up with growing demand, OTAs, GDSs and other intermediaries are developing tools to solve the complexity of differentiation and proper presentation of the various fares and categories with each cruise line and cruise ship.

The passenger journey

Even before the pandemic, cruise lines were developing technology to enhance the customer onboarding experience. The days of three-hour lines at the terminal just to get on the ship are ending, replaced by fast-track check-in powered by facial recognition technology, new apps and mobile boarding passes. New technology now includes contactless boarding, keyless stateroom entry, reservations, payment, find your family/friends, games, and casino play, all from a wearable medallion and an app, as seen with Princess Cruises Ocean Medallion.

Going forward, sustainability will be a driving force in all things cruising. Technology and innovation including artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, animation and next-generation smart devices will all be part of cruise ship design and experience in the next 5-10 years.

Meanwhile, travel advisors will continue to play an important role as cruise brand ambassadors, placing clients with the right cruise line, on the right ship, with the right amenities, entertainment and destinations.

Optimistically, it is possible to say that the best is yet to come.

The full analysis features a dive into the cruise segment’s recent and more notable technical developments. Topics covered include:

  • Changes to the booking process, including new tools and capabilities
  • Updates and upgrades to the passenger onboarding experience
  • Progress in the sustainability arena, featuring cruise-specific initiatives
  • Projections for what lies ahead, with newly implemented technology and beyond

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