iPads in Royal Caribbean Staterooms

| Friday, 25 Nov 2011
iPads in every stateroom on Royal Caribbean's Vision-class

iPads in Royal Caribbean Staterooms
Many ships have tried to make their televisions interactive, allowing the guest to order movies, check stateroom accounts, make shore excursion or restaurant reservations and see the daily schedule for the ship's events during the cruise. But the problem with interactive televisions is having just a remote control to navigate through all of the menus. Remote controls are never intuitive, requiring lots of back and forth through various menu options and offering limited ability to input text.

So, while these interactive television systems are a good idea in theory, I doubt that they get nearly as much use as the cruise lines had hoped - and after the considerable expense required to develop and install these systems on ships that would be a disappointment.

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Royal Caribbean even tried taking the interactive television a step further on the new Oasis-class ships, adding a wireless keyboard with a button mouse - making it possible to navigate menus and input text on the interactive television just like a computer - in theory. Except the actual interface between the television and keyboard/mouse combination was slow and too clumsy. The mouse would not react to the first touch - and then zoom fully across the screen a few seconds later.

Undaunted, Royal Caribbean is about to offer us the next step in stateroom interactive technology - and hopefully this will be the one that sticks because it really works. Royal Caribbean will be placing Apple iPads in every stateroom - starting with the "currently under renovation" Splendour of the Seas.

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For those who may not know, the iPad "tablet" is basically a laptop-like screen with no keyboard or mouse. The screen is "touch-sensitive" so one can point and click on a selection using your finger or type on a virtual keyboard which appears when needed by a specific application.

"With a touch of the screen, guests will be able to access the daily Cruise Compass of events and activities; personal daily itineraries, including shore excursions; monitor their onboard account; order room service; view restaurant menus; access the internet; and watch movies. The iPads will be available beginning mid-February 2012 on Splendour of the Seas before being extended to all Vision-class ships when each undergoes revitalization in the following two years," says Royal Caribbean.

But even better - through the pervasive WIFI also being installed throughout the ship the iPads will offer guests the opportunity to access all of their information not only from the comfort of their staterooms, but, wherever they go onboard.

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This is a very good idea - since (unlike the clunky interactive televisions) almost any computer user can figure out how to use a tablet. Very likely, once they prove successful on the Vision class they will be rolled out to the rest of the fleet. Royal Caribbean has been using iPads for menus in various restaurants onboard its ships for over a year now, and the concept has proven itself as popular with guests as it is efficient for the staff.

Splendour of the Seas, which emerges from dry dock on Nov. 25, 2011, also will have an array of new stateroom amenities such as flat screen televisions, new bathrooms, and completely remodeled interiors, including luxurious new linens and furniture, as well as an additional 124 balconies. The ship will also have the Digital Wayfinders as found on many of the newer Royal Caribbean ships. These are interactive screens permanently mounted on each deck near the elevators. Guests can interface with these by sliding their keycards through a card reader - pulling up reservations and other personal information. These Wayfinders will also be installed on other Vision-class ships.

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The newly revitalized Splendour also will have new dining options including the Asian Izumi restaurant; the line's signature steakhouse, Chops Grille; the Boardwalk Dog House hotdog counter; the Park Café deli-style restaurant; and the exclusive Chef's Table dining experience. There will also be a new a la carte menu in the Viking Crown Lounge that will offer guests the opportunity to enjoy bite sized portions of their favorite classics.

Additional Royal Caribbean signature innovations debuting on the ship will be the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, a Diamond lounge, a Concierge Lounge, a Britto Gallery featuring works from Brazilian pop-artist Romero Britto, the new R-Bar as well as a reinvented Centrum experience.

Upon completion of the refurbishments, Splendour of the Seas will sail a trans-Atlantic voyage on November 25 from Lisbon, Portugal to her seasonal homeport of Sao Paulo (Santos), Brazil. From there, she will offer a variety of South American itineraries that take advantage of the summer season in Brazil. Since Splendour is headed to Brazil after dry dock, the first iPads will be programmed in English and Portuguese, but as they roll out to the rest of the Vision-class ships they will soon be coming to a ship near to you.

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