VR games, go-kart tracks, roller coasters are transforming cruise ships

Cruising has established itself as one of the most popular means of vacationing, with travelers regularly jumping at any opportunity to dust off their suitcase for a getaway on the high seas.

Whether you’re sailing from Australia to New Zealand and the South Pacific or venturing further afield to Alaska and the Caribbean, nothing beats the convenience and relaxation of unpacking once and waking up. to find yourself in a new destination every day.

Princess Royal from Princess Cruises

Of course, we cannot overlook the attractiveness of the ships themselves. On board, there’s a whole world of fun and excitement to experience, especially as cruise lines spend a lot on innovations to not only increase interactivity, but also give passengers greater control. hands.

Executive Traveler casts the net on some of the most exciting technologies that will make your next cruise the best yet.

Roller coasters and go-kart tracks

If you’ve had your eye on the evolution of the most extravagant cruise ships, you might be wondering what could be next. How to beat surf simulators, zip lines and 4D theaters? Well, the latest ships to sail for Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line did just that.

Travelers set their own pace on Bolt to ensure maximum enjoyment.

Travelers set their own pace on Bolt to ensure maximum enjoyment.

Carnival’s newest and largest ship, known as Mardi Gras, introduced the ‘Bolt’, a two-seat, motorcycle-like roller coaster that weaves over the upper deck and around the ship’s chimney. Riders can choose how fast or slow they want to go, whether it’s a white slide around the track or a quieter panoramic view of the activity below.

The Bolt will also feature on Carnival’s next two ships, Carnival Celebration and Carnival Jubilee, both of which are slated to set sail within the next 18 months.

Bolt rides incur an additional cost over the cruise fare.

Bolt rides incur an additional cost over the cruise fare.

If you want to get your heart racing but your feet closer to the ground, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Bliss Speedway is sure to get your engine revving. Located aft of Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Joy, cruisers can strap on a helmet and race up to 10 others on a two-deck S-shaped track.

Up to 10 riders per session can zoom the track at sea.

Up to 10 riders per session can zoom the track at sea.

The next ship in the line launching later this year, Norwegian Prima, will take this concept one step further, widening the way to an incredible three-deck affair.

Ship-wide virtual reality adventure

Disney Cruise Line is a world leader in magical adventures on the high seas, primarily in the Caribbean and Europe. Its fifth and newest ship, Disney Wish, will immerse travelers in an all-new technological adventure supported by world-famous characters from classic Disney movies.

Disney Wish embarks on its maiden voyage in mid-July 2022.

Disney Wish embarks on its maiden voyage in mid-July 2022.

Running at set times and requiring advance reservations, Unchartered Adventure is an augmented reality experience led by Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Using the special Disney Cruise Line Navigator app, travelers explore all around the ship to unlock a series of movie-based adventures such as Moana, Finding Nemo, Peter Pan and more.

Tasked with restoring the magical Wishing Star to the night sky, adventurers use the app to activate games on their device, where they must help Moana navigate her canoes past the reef, summon Tinker Bell to sprinkle a some more pixie dust on the ship, and swim in the East Australian Current with Nemo, Dory and their friends.

Travelers must roam the ship to help Mickey and Minnie restore the wishing star in the sky.

Travelers must roam the ship to help Mickey and Minnie restore the wishing star in the sky.

After finding Wishing Star pieces scattered throughout the ship, these mini-games culminate in a final battle against an infamous Disney villain in a live, interactive experience meant to etch a permanent smile on travelers of all ages.

Robot Entertainment

The introduction of Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas ship brought two bold new innovations, both using robot arms at the heart of their operation.

One of them is the Bionic Bar, where customers can customize a drink order before sitting down and watching two robotic arms create the mouth-watering concoction. It starts with selecting spirits hanging from the ceiling, pouring exact portions, adding ice and soda if needed, mixing it all up, and delivering the drink to your hand.

You'll never be so amused watching a drink pour.

You’ll never be so amused watching a drink pour.

On the same ship, and four similar ones, cruise passengers will also find the Two70 Theater and Lounge, with its choreographed dancing TV screens.

Two70's dancing screens are quite a spectacle.

Two70’s dancing screens are quite a spectacle.

Controlled by robotic arms, this collection of six LED screens move to the beat of music and lights to create a visually striking display, which serves as a very impressive teaser to the evening’s entertainment.

Wearable RFID Technology

Theme parks have used wearable RFID technology for years, but it’s only recently that cruises have harnessed its power as well, opening up a multitude of possible uses for passengers.

One of the biggest deployments in this space is Carnival Corporation’s Ocean Medallion, a small wristwatch-like device a few centimeters in diameter. It is currently available on 11 of the 15 ships that Princess Cruises sails, with more to come.

The Ocean Medallion is your key to everything on Princess Cruises.

The Ocean Medallion is your key to everything on Princess Cruises.

After receiving, registering and linking the Ocean Medallion to a smartphone app and credit card, the wearer activates every part of the cruise experience.

It is a cabin key, a food and drink ordering system, a payment card and a ship directory. Additionally, wearers can stream content aboard the ship to a personal device, access the daily schedule and even log into the onboard casino to play electronic games – such as slot machines – from anywhere. where on the ship.

The locket can be worn as a watch or a necklace - your choice.

The locket can be worn as a watch or a necklace – your choice.

Rival cruise lines have responded by launching their own competing systems, though not all are as sleek as the Medallion.

Among them are Royal Caribbean’s WOW group, acting as both room key and payment card on board, and the MSC Cruises “MSC For Me” wristband and app, which also has check-in functionality. Another handy feature of MSC is the ability for parents to locate their children anywhere on board.

The Band on Virgin Voyages is one of many similar systems to Ocean Medallion.

The Band on Virgin Voyages is one of many similar systems to Ocean Medallion.

Virgin Voyages has also launched “The Band” made from plastic recovered from the ocean. Like the others, it allows access to the room and the possibility of charging for purchases on board.

Magic Carpet Mobile Tray

Introduced as part of Celebrity Cruises’ new “Edge” ship model, the Magic Carpet is a tangerine colored cantilever deck extension, which moves up and down outside the ship at different levels at different stages of the journey.

The magic carpet is on Celebrity Edge, which sails to Australia in late 2023.

The magic carpet is on Celebrity Edge, which sails to Australia in late 2023.

Serving as a landing lounge, pool lounge extension, hovering stage for live music, or a themed bar and restaurant, the movable bridge also helps passengers descend to tender vessels when the vessel is incapacitated. to physically stop next to a dock.

Interactive cooking demonstrations

The cruise industry is no stranger to taking popular game shows ashore and adapting them to ship life. Recently, Holland America Line lifted the curtain on the long-running cooking show America’s Test Kitchen for its passengers, hosted in the onboard cooking demonstration theaters.

The premise of the show involves professional cooks tapping into every element of their culinary creativity to apply as many different variations to normal recipes as possible. For example, who knew that there were more than 60 ways to prepare a pasta dish?

America's Test Kitchen is Holland America Line's cooking demonstration theme.

America’s Test Kitchen is Holland America Line’s cooking demonstration theme.

Passengers can sit in the audience to watch the ship’s talented chefs pit their imaginations against each other – an Iron Chef-style battle to find out “which cuisine reigns supreme” – or get in on the action themselves with hands-on workshops with expert advice.

Stargazing and astronomy

Each ship has a theater, but none recline the seats to the point where you look up at the night sky. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 offers the next best thing, with a spellbinding planetarium to complement its lectures on astronomy and constellation viewing.

Selected seats in the Queen Mary 2 Theater double for the ship's planetarium.

Selected seats in the Queen Mary 2 Theater double for the ship’s planetarium.

Featuring classical music and 3D cinematography, cruisers can enjoy two different educational films showcasing the dazzling beauty of the night sky above. The ship hosts four screenings a day at sea, with the theater also hosting immersive concerts and musical recitals.

Travelers can enjoy educational films about astronomy while being deeply inclined.

Travelers can enjoy educational films about astronomy while being deeply inclined.

Coupled with soothing ocean-inspired music and comfortable seating, it can also be a handy spot for a quick nap, if desired.

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