Sign Up for Our Monthly Cruise Newsletter
It sounds like a Harry Potter story: You get a quarter-size medallion in the mail before your cruise, put it on, and a world of wonder awaits. The wearable device takes you through the embarkation process, locks and unlocks your door and helps you navigate the ship and make purchases, all while collecting data about what you like — food, drink, entertainment and more. It makes recommendations and suggestions, tells you where you can watch the sun set and what wine you might enjoy while you do it.
The token locates other members of your party, lets the staff know that you are present for the safety drill and turns on your lights and air-conditioning when you enter your stateroom. And when you have feedback about your cruise experience, you can register it immediately rather than waiting until the end of your trip.
This January in Las Vegas, Carnival Corporation & Plc unveiled its new Ocean Medallion at CES 2017, the popular consumer electronics and technology trade show. Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald told attendees about the new technology and its ability to provide detailed personal service to guests on today’s large ships.
Ocean Medallion relies on microscopic antennas, using near field communication. Thousands of sensors and readers recognize passengers and integrate data. Personal information, payment records and profiles are password protected, and lost devices can be voided. Guests get a new medallion for each cruise, but passenger choices and information go ahead of them on all future Carnival Corp. bookings.
The whole system works in conjunction with Ocean Compass, a digital interface/portal available online, on smartphones, on interactive portals (digital displays) throughout the ship and on crewmembers’ handheld devices, called Crew Compasses.
“At the core, we’re taking the service delivery burden off the crew so they can do what they do best: interact with the guests,” said John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer for Carnival Corp., who earlier masterminded MagicBand for Disney.
The Ocean Medallion device will make its first appearance Nov. 13 on Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess, followed by Royal Princess and Caribbean Princess in early 2018. (Princess is a brand of Carnival Corp.) The process of installing it is expensive, with nearly 75 miles of cable and thousands of interactive portals involved; Ocean Medallion class is clearly a major investment for Carnival.
Sean Flynn, franchise owner of Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Montreal, was at CES for the reveal. He was impressed that Carnival had kept the news under wraps and was hitting the ground with YouTube videos, courses on Princess Academy and more.
He believes that with its ability to personalize the cruise experience, the technology provides a way for larger ships to raise service levels to the standard held by much smaller vessels.
“It’s so different that it does require time to absorb the full capability,” he said. “But the way this analyzes the tastes of the guest and makes suggestions and recognizes each one as he or she approaches a part of the ship is very impressive.”
Princess’ rollout of the device is expected to take “multiple years,” and it seems likely that new ships among Carnival Corp. brands will be among the first outfitted with the technology. Interestingly, the company recently announced orders for two new vessels: a 2,660-passenger ship for Holland America Line in 2021, and a 3,660-guest Royal-class ship for Princess in 2022; the latter will feature Ocean Medallion technology.