Smartphones, smart cars and smart homes. Think we've seen them all? If an eight-day cruise to the Caribbean onboard a luxury liner isn't luxurious enough, how about a slightly similar eight-day cruise on the World's First SmartShip?
That is what Royal Caribbean International (RCI) is calling the Quantum of the Seas, which is ready to set sail from her homeport of Cape Liberty out of New York Harbor for her maiden voyage in November this year. Her stately 167,800-ton bearing can accommodate up to 4,180 guests in more than 2,000 staterooms and features a jewel-shaped 360-degree observation deck that rises to 300 feet, an iFly RipCord skydiving simulator with free one-minute lessons to everyone onboard, and a massive indoor SeaPlex housing bumper cars, a circus school with trapeze classes and a roller-skating rink.
And if that's not enough, passengers can pass the time viewing the 2,980-piece art collection on the ship's top deck, which has a 30-foot tall magenta polar bear made from thousands of steel triangles as its centerpiece.
That, however, is only the beginning of the Quantum's eye-popping features. RCI boasts of the fastest ship check-in in the world, with the help of the Royal IQ app that allows passengers to generate documents online, upload their ID picture and receive confirmation of boarding, doing away with the long queues at the check-in counter and the countless forms to fill out.
Each passenger will also be given a WOWband, a rubberized wristband equipped with radio frequency identification technology that will allow them to access their staterooms, make onboard purchases and make dining and tour reservations. They can also track their luggage, which are assigned an ID number upon boarding, using the wristband. The WOWband, of course, isn't a fashionable device like, say, the much-anticipated iWatch, but that's not a problem as passengers have the option of taking it off anytime.
These innovations never before seen on a cruise ship are made possible by much faster Internet connection that RCI says is up to par with the fastest broadband speeds on land. The network is maintained by low-orbit communications satellites provided by a company called O3b Communications, which beam Internet signals directly to the ship.
"Even when they are getting away from it all on vacation, people want to connect," says Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, executive vice president of operations at RCI. "Our satellite network will make things possible at sea that could never have been done before, and will make all the difference in the way guests share their Royal Caribbean experience."
Still not impressed? Anyone who has $1,699 to spare can book one of the interior staterooms and experience what it is like to view the outside from a huge 80-inch LED screes framed with curtains and a computer-generated railing to act as a virtual balcony. The SmartShip also features Two70, a living room of sorts that also acts as 450-seater entertainment center. Two70 isn't just any ordinary entertainment venue, however. During the day, the room's floor-to-ceiling windows provide panoramic views of the high seas, but they can convert into 8K video screens with a resolution eight times as much as a high-definition 1080p device to provide a spectacular viewing experience.
And for those who would rather get a drink, the ship's Bionic Bar offers a "killer mojito" made and served by robot bartenders who don't forget orders because passengers can key them in using tablets.