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Digital transformation in cruise

by Asa Sargeant | November 13, 2019 | General News & Events | 0 Comments

Cruise lines received over 27 million passengers last year, an all-time record high, and the future for the cruise industry looks very rosy indeed. One key to the birth of this so-called ‘Golden Age’ has been incredible developments in ship-building, with each new vessel essentially adopting ‘super ship’ status.

The cruise industry has enjoyed tremendous growth in profitability over the past few years, with the three largest worldwide operators earning incredible sums of money every single minute:

Carnival: $31,181
Royal Caribbean: $16,165
NCL: $9,273

Since 2015, operating profits have doubled due to the premiums commanded by huge new super ships, and when you consider that the cruise industry benefits from an extremely loyal client base plus very strong brand equity, it is easy to see why even more growth is forecast.

For any brand or business serving customers to have a successful operation, regardless of the industry or vertical, there needs to be a strong focus on the customer at every touch point. Customer service truly is key and it has become increasingly clear that cruise lines realise their competitive advantage lies in the customer experience.

The leading cruise lines have taken another step, now differentiating this experience via digital initiatives that have helped to redefine and streamline booking and boarding processes, whilst also adding more personalisation into their marketing efforts and increasing engagement with customers through the capture of real-time feedback.

In 2019, billion-dollar budgets have been quoted and committed to by some of the major brands in an effort to develop full-ship Wi-Fi, digital concierges, guest mobile apps, virtual reality experiences and more. Whilst not every cruise line is committing to quite the same extent, it is clear that cruise ship technology is a very hot topic indeed and as such, we thought we would reveal our three main trends to have emerged within the cruise industry in recent years:

1. Wi-Fi internet connection

Even in the middle of the ocean, people want and even expect to have ship-wide Wi-Fi service and it is therefore unsurprising that most major cruise lines have at least some level of wireless internet on their ships. Royal Caribbean has gone so far as to lay claim to now having the “fastest internet at sea“, with their Voom service – no doubt this claim will be challenged in the coming months...

2. On-board apps

These can be fantastic additions for those passengers and crew members wishing to stay connected with the ship and everything happening during the voyage, with a variety of basic yet useful options such as daily schedules available. NCL now have apps that include such on-board functionality, as well as offering passengers the ability to book services and view updated room charges; it surely goes without saying that most of us now probably expect to be able to do this anyway, so any cruise lines not doing so are ‘missing a trick’...

3. More secure on-board connections

A lot of cruise passengers require reliable Internet access at sea to conduct their business, which means that they need secure connections to feel confident that important, confidential and sometimes sensitive information will be secure from potential cyber-attacks. As cruise lines are adding faster Wi-Fi and internet connections, they are also now factoring in cyber security.


NCL – Norwegian Cruise Line; founded in 1966 and based in the United States, NCL is the third-largest cruise line in the world (by passengers).

Cyber security – The protection of computer systems from disruption to the services they provide or damage / theft to: hardware, software, electronic data.

Top Tip

Watch this space for more on the fascinating growth in technology within the cruise industry, or for more on cyber security, be sure to check out the CRIBB Cyber Security blog.

ICE Technology Services and CRIBB Cyber Security are both part of TheICEway ecosystem of companies, a complete digital solution specialising in the cruise industry

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