As Carnival Cruise Line welcomed its full fleet back into revenue operations earlier this year, it also welcomed a 50 percent increase in bandwidth on a per guest basis to the ships, said Luis Terife, vice president, connectivity revenue.
“We have seen a significant increase in guest utilization, across the board, but especially with a higher emphasis on our premium plans,” he said. “We are adjusting to guest usage patterns by allowing a more balanced upload versus download experience.”
Additional capacity is being sent to the crew, which can now text for free on WhatsApp, and the company has also deployed new technology so the shipboard leadership teams can communicate in real time, via video calls, with shoreside counterparts. Other crew plans have been discounted.
Carnival guests can look forward to a connected experience aboard via the company’s recently updated HUB app.
“Guests can now browse and book many of our onboard categories like shore excursions, spa treatments, dining venues and bar packages right from their phones,” explained Ron Dillehay, vice president booked guest and customer experience.
“Families sailing with children can browse all of our youth programs and check the real-time status of their children participating in youth activities onboard,” he added. “We’ve cut down lines with virtual queues and venue reservations and have expanded our onboard food delivery service to allow popular food items to be delivered to wherever guests are on the ship.”
John Harshaw, vice president, global infrastructure, said that Carnival had improved its connectivity ecosystem by using bandwidth from multiple satellite providers to remain flexible, which is key to providing a consistent connected experience with ships moving between deployment regions.
“We have deployed significantly more WiFi access points across our fleet, so our guests and crew can connect seamlessly in many places onboard,” he said, adding that improvements also increased automation and redundancy within the connectivity ecosystem to reduce single points of failure.
AI tools are being used in real-time to optimize traffic and helping balance guest demand with back-office functions, Harshaw said. It also helps predict guest usage patterns so the company can prioritize bandwidth.
“With near-term capacity being stretched in all ocean regions, all global (connectivity) providers are working diligently to build out larger and more scalable networks, and this will only improve the overall connectivity experience at sea,” Harshaw said.
Long-term plans, according to Terife, call for continuing to strengthen the company’s connectivity platform, including shoreside at ports to deliver a seamless experience.
“We want to support further cloud and application enablement to increase our business capabilities,” he said. “And finally, we want to continue to innovate by adding new tools and services to optimize our operations and to open even better alternatives for our users.”