Passenger Ship Technology went to Hamburg to see Ocean Medallion being fitted on Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess, and heard about plans for using the technology to achieve fuel savings and energy efficiency
Carnival Corp made the cruise ship industry sit up and take notice when it announced the launch of its interactive Ocean Medallion. And it caused another stir during the drydocking of Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess in April, when Ocean Medallion was fitted within the ship.
The installation of the interactive guest experience platform on Regal Princess during its drydock in Hamburg, Germany included the installation of Carnival Corp’s xIoT network, which is activated by Ocean Medallion. During the upgrade, work teams ran some 75 miles of cable and installed almost 7,000 sensors, 650 computing devices and 1,780 in-cabin WiFi access points on the ship.
A total of 4,030 additional guest portals, in the form of stateroom door access panels, interactive touchscreen TVs and public area displays, were also added. These will enable guests to access their own personal digital concierge without the need for a mobile phone. They feature what the cruise line describes as a vast array of guest experience enhancements.
Carnival Corp chief experience and innovation officer John Padgett explained: “This is all about big data, and our relationship with the guest. All the information gathered is piled back in to enable their experience at that moment. It is not going to a computer cloud to be applied to future cruises or operational changes. It is all to maximise their experience at that particular time.”
Another aspect of the new technology that was revealed at the press tour of the drydock was True North. Carnival senior vice president for guest experience design and technology Michael Jungen explained: “A guest’s own stateroom portal will show them their True North, which is about what happens next for them. It might be a message from a family member on board or an upcoming event. We believe this is really special. And it is not just for guests – it helps the steward, too.”
Indeed, it will let staff know the whereabouts of the guest, so that they know whether the guest is in the room or not.
Other Ocean Medallion services revealed at the drydock event include Ocean Ready. Mr Jungen said: “We want to elevate this beyond just planning and booking the cruise and make the customer’s time before their holiday far more evocative. It focuses on playful engagement, enabling guests to create their own tags and engage in social media.”
Ocean View allows guests to view content created especially for the cruise line, such as TV programmes. Play Ocean consists of several dimensions, including allowing guests to play in the casino from any area of the ship, without having to be there in person.
Mr Padgett highlighted how the upgraded network capability supports more than Ocean Medallion alone. It also supports the guest WiFi and TV system, with WiFi now implemented in every room.
Energy efficiency boost
Central to the interactive guest experience operating system are location based sensors. These are deployed throughout the ship, including within so-called data lockers that manage the technology for each stateroom and which are located between every two rooms.
Carnival is hoping to use the sensor technology to develop the Ocean Medallion concept further, using it not just for interactive guest experiences but also to save energy.
Mr Padgett said: “In the future we expect to be able to deliver sensors for temperature and CO2. If we could tell, for example, by reading a medallion that the CO2 levels were low in the stateroom, we would know that the guest had left the room. It gives us a richness of information.”
And it could lead to other energy efficiency innovations, tapping into heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lighting efficiencies amongst others. “These areas are being looked at. It is not something that is being implemented straight away, but it is definitely a possibility, and could save fuel consumption and increase the energy efficiency of the whole ship,” said Regal Princess hotel general manager Richard Harry.
As well as personalising experiences, the Ocean Medallion technology provides other services. It will streamline the embarkation and disembarkation process, unlock cabin doors automatically for guests, find the location of friends and family on board and pay for merchandise, as well as aiding safety and evacuation, as crew will not need to do roll calls or check numbers. They will know whether people are at muster and whether they are in cabins or on board.
It can help with missing guests, too. Mr Harry told Passenger Ship Technology: “It makes people much more visible and if someone is missing at least we can say where they last were with the medallion, even if they have taken it off. It gives us a starting point.”
Ocean Medallion boosts WiFi connectivity
The integration of the medallion technology on Regal Princess has also led to increased WiFi connectivity.
Mr Jungen said: “Connectivity to the outside world is very important in terms of ordering supplies, the safe navigation of the ship, and enabling crew to keep in touch with families. It is also imperative for guests to remain connected. We have made a commitment do everything possible to ensure that there will be superlative connections back to land on Medallion class.”
To this end, three new satellite antennas have been added to the ship during drydock in order to boost the connectivity capacity. There are now seven satellite antennas on the ship.
“These are multiband and multi-provider, to ensure we stay connected with the very best possible experience. We have activated multiple antennas on the same service so that if one of them blacks out because of its position, another one can get a better signal,” said Mr Jungen.
All Medallion class ships will have more satellite antennas added to boost connectivity. Caribbean Princess had two more added just before Regal Princess.
Mr Jungen would not specify the speed of connectivity, but said: “We are working on speeds, and are implementing fibre optic communication down to the data centre.”
Training for crew
Before Ocean Medallion goes live on 12 November, a crucial focus is on training the crew to use the technology to increase the efficiency of their services and to help guests to get the most from the new technology.
Training plans are still being formulated, but training is likely to take two months and consist of a mix of computer sessions, training on the job and one-to-one sessions.
Mr Harry told Passenger Ship Technology: “It will take a lot of the friction out of crew contact with guests and enable crew to do much more than they could before. And it will evolve over the next few years.”
As an example, crew currently try to remember people and their preferences if they return to a cruise. But Ocean Medallion will provide crew with this information, enabling them to cater to many more people and their preferences over a longer time frame.
The huge amount of work involved and the impact that is expected from Ocean Medallion was highlighted by Mr Jungen. He told Passenger Ship Technology: “We designed everything all the way down to the connectors. I am putting all my energy into it, as I believe we are onto something special.”
Ocean Medallion: what is it?
The coin-sized Ocean Medallion – carried or worn by guests on a wristband – will give guests a more personalised experience on board, according to Carnival Corp.
With no digital interface, it connects to a newly developed onboard network (the experience innovation operating system) and gathers information about the wearer’s preferences. It is updated multiple times per second, which enables the infrastructure to present the wearer with relevant options and so maximise their time on holiday.
As well as the innovation experience operating system and the medallion there is a third key component to the technology, Ocean Compass. This enables the guest to access cruise planning and concierge information. They can do this through their own personal device, through the cabin TV or through one of the interactive screens that are located throughout the cruise ship.
John Padgett (Carnival) snapshot CV
John Padgett joined Carnival Corporation in 2014 as chief experience & innovation officer spanning the company’s 10 global cruise line brands. He is responsible for guest experience innovation, development, creation and operations integration across creative, digital, technical and operational functions.
Prior to Carnival Corporation, Mr Padgett had an 18-year career with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
He holds 19 patents and multiple innovation awards for wearable devices, experience itinerary scheduling and optimisation, digital experience interaction platforms and operational processes.
He earned a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in management science and a bachelor’s degree in finance from Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business.
Michael Jungen (Carnival) snapshot CV
Michael Jungen has served as the vice president of design & technology for Carnival Corporation for the company’s global experience and innovation function since 2015. In December 2016 he was promoted to senior vice president of guest experience design and technology for the company.
Prior to joining Carnival Corporation, Mr Jungen spent nearly 16 years with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
He holds 10 patents and multiple innovation awards.
Mr Jungen earned degrees in divinity, philosophy and metallurgy from, respectively, Saint Meinrad School of Theology, Saint Meinrad College and University of Arizona.
Ocean medallion: what the work entailed
75 miles of cable
650 computing devices
1,780 in-cabin WiFi access points on the ship.
4,030 guest portals
Three new satellite antennas