NCL announced in May it had partnered with proximity-based technology specialist DeCurtis Corporation on a new platform, Cruise Freedom, aiming to “enhance the guest experience" and "enabling freedom and flexibility onboard and onshore".
A phased roll out of Cruise Freedom will begin later this year, with as-yet-unknown “preliminary elements” launching on Norwegian Bliss, followed by Norwegian Encore in the autumn of 2019.
Speaking to TTG, Stuart said that in order for NCL to “bring proximity and location [technology] to life” any future guest platform would use a wearable gadget.
“You could do it with a phone but we don’t want to force everybody to carry that around so it will likely involve a wearable,” he said, adding that NCL was “not really ready" to reveal more about the technology just yet.
“We believe that technology has huge power to enhance the guest experience and we will bring that to life in many ways onboard Encore but we are not yet talking about it because it is quite complex," he said.
“We’re very conscious that we don’t want 4,000 guests walking around staring at their iPhones, we want to change the guest experience in a meaningful way but not force everyone to use it.”
Last month Carnival announced its OceanMedallion was now fully enabled onboard Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess, with its implementation following a series of postponements during its development.
MSC Cruises also offers wearable technology in the form of its MSC For Me platform, available onboard MSC Meraviglia, Seaside and Seaview.
“We are taking a different approach to the other lines in the sense that we are really taking this one step at a time,” explained Stuart.
“One of our core philosophies is flawless execution from the top of the company all the way through and if we can’t do it flawlessly then we don’t want to do it.
“It is a complex technology and it is a very significant change but we think it is a very meaningful opportunity, we are investing a lot of money in it and we are putting ourselves in a position to be a leader.
“Guests are very different. You have the millennial who wants an app for everything and you have got the boomer who is mixed – some want technology and some don’t - so we have to think about both of those types of guests and think about the power of technology and how to do this in a way that doesn’t disenfranchise some [guests] and excite others but enhances the experience for everyone."