I attended Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s (RCL) invitation-only Sea Beyond event at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s historic shipyard. Instead of a plain ‘ol building they had mocked it up to look like the inside of the ship. That’s a pretty clever way to promote their frustration free vacation.
What was so great about the event? Well for one, they released an unprecedented wave of digital innovations into their cruising experience that I got to play with.
37,000 square feet of hands-on examples showcased how digital technology is driving change across the company’s fleet. The fleet include names you might have heard of, like Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises.
From stem to stern they’ve made updates to make the RCL experience cooler, more interactive, and futuristic. I can best equate it to a smart ship since a lot of the upgrades seemed like they’re out of a SciFi film.
Also, you might recognize some famous faces (Ashley Benson, Kevin Jonas, Victor Cruz) that attended the event.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Sea Beyond
Before I had arrived I was sent an invitation video. Never saw that before. It was literally an invite with a video of one of the heads of Royal Caribbean pumping us up for the event. Then they sent an Escalade to pick me up. Not bad.
The first thing that I noticed upon arriving in Brooklyn was how they transformed the welcome room to look aquatic and innovative. Even better, as mentioned, was that the remaining half of the building was designed to look like the interior of the ship (sort of to scale).
Before we were able to tour the mock ship, we sat through a presentation that went through the fleet’s updates. My friend got bored of this but I actually liked this part. I’m a nerd about learning and like to know the why and what behind things.
RCL isn’t dumb and they know Millennials need lots of moving things to keep us occupied as we listened to the speakers. By downloading the new RCL interactive app, we were able to order food and drinks through it and without talking to a waiter. Seamless!
The RCL Entertainment
As I stated, RCL pulled out all the stops to make sure guests were entertained and informed as we learned about the fleet. My favorites were the screens that moved around to the music as they showcased the dancers in the picture below doing awesome choreography. They were so talented and I loved the dichotomy of the ballet vs. hip hop dancers. The song was Macklemore’s Cant Hold Us.
They also had live music that played when everyone was done with the tour and happily sipping cocktails.
The RCL Ship Upgrades
The most tangible change to RCL cruising is that you can now control your experience on the ship from an app that you download before boarding. As part of the event, through the app that we had ordered drinks on, we were also able to use it to go through the ship as if we were really on it.
With the RCL app you can book shows, excursions, massages – really anything, without leaving the chair you’re sunbathing on. I like the sound of that.
Faster, Seamless Check-Ins
If you’ve ever been on a Caribbean cruise (or really any) before, then you know one of the pain points is waiting on those lines to check in. RCL has fixed this. They have facial recognition that enables you to board the ship “in the time it takes to order fries from the drive-through.” I got to experience this first hand when we “checked-in” on the mock ship. I’ll say this though – take a good picture. Mine was terrible and popped up each time I checked in.
The Royal Caribbean crew even had mocked up staterooms. The suite room was my favorite part of the night. There was technology on the walls, ceiling, and floor that enabled us to change where you appear to be.
You can be in the water, in the rain forest, on the deck. The images change depending on what you want to see. But the best part was that you can “be outside while being inside.” The ship has cameras all over that can replicate what the real weather is outside of this ship into your room – complete with sound! So you never miss a beat!
“Stateroom ceilings might be replaced by starry skies, the walls of a restaurant can transform into the sights and sounds of an outdoor café, and digital signs challenge you to play an arcade game.”
Virtual Reality Eating and Traveling
With this one we ate real food but the visual world around us changed. We wore a headset and only saw digital versions of the food put in front of us as we got a 4D view of another city on earth. So we’d be sampling an exotic dessert where, with each bite, the entire environment changed – virtually. For example, I had a Chinese dessert in Honk Kong.
We were also able to wear our virtual reality headsets to travel to other countries in 4D! It was like choose your own adventure. We could’ve went hot air ballooning over Italy, went on a gondolier in Venice, or scuba diving in the Caribbean.
Alternative Energy Sources
Lastly, the entire ship has been rewired to be more energy-efficient. Alternative energy enhancements were updated in order to directly help the living experience of crew members and carbon footprint. That I appreciated hearing as well.
Thank you to Royal Caribbean for hosting me. It was a cool event!