A new app using facial recognition and passport scanning should enable Royal Caribbean clients to embark within 10 minutes.
The app, which is being rolled out first on Symphony of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, offers "expedited arrival" for guests who have checked in, scanned their passport and taken a selfie.
They can then leave their luggage with the porter, answer the health questionnaire verbally, and skip the check-in desk altogether.
"In testing, the face-to-face element takes just 90 to 120 seconds," said Tim Klauda, vice-president of product - digital experience. "From car-to-bar in less than 10 minutes is our aim."
The app also enables pre-booking of restaurants, activities and excursions, just as on the Royal Caribbean website.
Currently, the app allows for pre-booking three weeks before departure, which will be extended to 90 days within the next few months.
The app contains ship information, deck maps (which will shortly show your current location with a pin), weather and daily activities.
Next to go live will be a "folio" function, which logs all charges made to a guest’s account, and a messaging function to communicate with friends and family onboard.
Guests do not need to purchase wifi in order to use the app.
Stuart Leven, vice-president Europe, Middle East and Africa, said he believed offering automated facial recognition for check-in was a first in the industry, but stressed that clients will not be forced to use new technology such as this if they prefer not to.
"In terms of our new-to-cruise market, which is predominantly the 24 to 45-year-old bracket, they’re all carrying iPhones around," he said.
"But we have 115,000 guests on our ships on any given night and we need to make sure that all of our guests have the experience that they want," he insisted.
"So the new app does not replace anything. It’s an ’and’, not an ’either, or’."
The new Royal Caribbean app will be on half of the fleet by the end of the year.
Klaudau reported a "bring me a drink" capability, where guests can order a cocktail and have it delivered to their sun-lounger, is being devised as part of sister-brand Celebrity Cruises’ Edge project, and will be then be rolled out on Royal ships.
The app also incorporates several augmented reality games, including an "X-ray wall" which allows guests to see into the bridge using their smartphone.
Guests in star-class suites (with wifi access included) are also able to stream content from their own devices via Apple Airplay or Google Chromecast.