The age when a blackjack table, late-night buffet, and after-hours bar were considered cutting-edge attractions on a cruise are long gone. These days, cruise ships are more like floating cities, decked out with movie theaters, outdoor pools, swanky shops and restaurants, rides galore, and other over-the-top amenities. Some vessels are upping the amenity ante even further, bringing high-tech innovations to the high seas. From robot bartenders to a completely 3-D experience, we dug up a few new revolutionary cruise ship features that will make you feel like you’ve voyaged to the future. Hop aboard the cruises of tomorrow.
Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Edge
Celebrity Edge, the first of four new cruise ships that will debut under Celebrity Cruises’ Edge Class, will set sail in 2018, and here’s what’s on deck. Completely designed in 3-D, the vessel will feature a Smartphone app that allows guests to open cabin doors, order drinks and food, make reservations, and navigate the ship’s layout all with the push of a button. Suites will feel akin to luxury homes (the split-level Edge Villa features a private terrace and three-foot-deep plunge pool, while Edge Stateroom comes with an impressive infinite veranda). Passengers will also have the opportunity to see through select areas of the ship, thanks to innovative X-ray technology. Via the Smartphone app, guests will be able to get a glimpse inside closed-door areas like the bridge, engine room, and anchor. The most impressive feature of all, however, is what they’re calling the Magic Carpet. The size of a tennis court, the multi-functional platform floats between decks 2 and 16, playing several roles. For example, on deck 16, it acts a specialty restaurant, offering a special “Dinner on the Edge,” while on deck 14, it transforms into an extension of the main pool area. A whole new world, indeed.
Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas
Weighing a whopping 226,00 tons and designed to be 124 feet longer than the Eiffel Tower, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas is the largest cruise ship to set sail. To put things in perspective, the Titanic weighed a meager 52,000 tons in comparison. It’s so large, in fact, that passengers were reportedly given GPS-style trackers to avoid getting lost. In addition to a hand-carved carousel, theater, ice-skating rink, scaled-down version of Central Park, zip line, and the world’s tallest water slide at sea, the massive vessel features a Bionic Bar. Here, robots, which go by the names “Mix” and “Mingle,” can stir and shake all types of boozy concoctions (up to two drinks per minute). Guests can walk up to the tablets and create a custom cocktail or choose an item from the menu. You can even track your drink on the digital screen. Luckily, this futuristic bar is also available on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, and Ovation of the Seas ships. Talk about shaking things up at sea.
Princess Cruises’ Ocean Medallion Class
Come November 2017, Princess Cruises will debut Ocean Medallion, a quarter-sized wearable device that’s designed to enhance guests’ experience on board. The accessory, which will be offered to passengers as part of the Ocean Medallion Class, can be worn as a wristband, pendant, clip, or even tucked inside pockets, and will feature the passenger’s name, ship, and date of sailing. It will unlock staterooms sans keys, locate friends and family on board, and enable guests to order food and drinks without any transactions. But the perks don’t end there. It will also personalize interactions with crew. For example, if you love snorkeling, the crew might suggest a popular snorkeling excursion at an upcoming port.
Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Venture
The newest addition to Lindblad Expeditions’ fleet is National Geographic Venture, an expedition cruise ship that will set sail in 2018. The ship will be outfitted with 24 sea kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling equipment, and Zodiacs, all available for guests. Even more impressive is the ship’s state-of-the-art technology, which includes a remotely-operated vehicle to explore the vessel’s surroundings, video microscope, a hydrophone, and underwater cameras.
MSC Cruises’ MSC Seaview
MSC Seaview, the second of the line’s Seaside Class ships, will make its snazzy entrance in 2018, with panoramic elevators boasting sea views, suspended glass floors, a giant water park, and an outdoor promenade packed with shops, bars, and al fresco dining options. And don’t think you’ll be leaving the tech world back on land, either. Partnering with Samsung, the vessel will feature everything from virtual reality to cutting-edge mobile features. Specifically, passengers will be able to use a cruise card, bracelet, or Smartphone to geo-locate friends and family, pay on board, and access their cabins. Another game-changer: iBeacon technology that is customized to each passengers’ specific preferences, so that they never miss an experience and can receive relevant information and offers to their mobile device. The future is now.
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