Cruises: Expert hopeful for 'July' return of holidays
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While most cruise lines may have on pause for more than a year amid the coronavirus pandemic, many are returning to sailing with the launch of an array of UK itineraries. Among them is Princess Cruises, which is embarking on a host of UK sailings from Southampton beginning in July.
However, while things might be a little different from a Covid-Safe perspective, according to Tony Roberts, vice president of Princess Cruises UK and Europe, they will also come with a new element of “luxury”.
It is all thanks to a brand new technology dubbed Ocean Medallion which, although was developed long before coronavirus, works in tandem with “what people are wanting and asking for in this new environment.”
In fact, Mr Roberts told Express.co.uk he felt the timing of the app’s development is “almost fortuitous”. a
“We’ve launched it on a number of ships,” explained Mr Roberts.
“I think it was five ships, pre-Covid and then every single ship as they come back will be fully Medallion enabled. So it is absolutely a consistent feature for our brand going forward.”
Along with reducing the need for touch-points and helping to enhance social distancing, the Ocean Medallion also promises a new opulent way to cruise.
“Before Covid we were really excited that the Ocean Medallion was going to help us to offer personalised guest experiences and really just remove some of those friction points that you have as part of your holiday but actually now in this post-COVID environment, as well there are additional enhancements that really help,” Mr Roberts said.
“Guests can enjoy things like a touch-less embarkation process or contactless payment on board.
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“Even your cabin door unlocks automatically as you walk up to it so that you don’t have to pull out your key card and touch it to a sensor.”
However, along with ensuring guests can enjoy more contact-free opportunities onboard, it also means lining up at the bar or even journeys to the shop might be a thing of the past.
“There’s really nice features around being able to not having to queue,” continued Mr Roberts.
“We have a feature called Ocean Now which means that you can order food or drink, or indeed just something that you need, from where you are anywhere on one of our servers will bring it to you.
“If you’re sat on the sun bed, you don’t have to go to the restaurant or go and queue at the bar.
“You can just order what you want on the app and it will be brought to you wherever you are.
“That can be for things like sunscreen or goggles or something that you feel like you just need but you don’t really want to get up and go and stand in a line or stand in a shop for.
“You could even do that from your private balcony, so if you decide you want a cocktail and a slice of pizza, you just order it on the app and it will be brought to you where you are.”
And it isn’t just a delivery service the app provides. It also works by storing guest preferences so they can enjoy their perfect drink every time.
“One of our team was on board and they ordered a glass of champagne,” Mr Roberts said.
“They asked for it nice and cold and a fresh bottle, and then they were in a completely different bar and location on the ship a day later they ordered a glass of champagne on the app.
“The server bought it to them and said: ‘Just how you like it, cold and I opened a fresh bottle.’
“Those preferences practices were stored into the system.”
Mr Roberts added: “It’s really a very personalised and luxurious experience.”
The app also has the ability to locate members of the same party; whether that is to meet up with a friend for dinner, or to keep an eye on the kids.
“If you’ve got kids or if you’ve got an extended group of six friends on board there is never a time where you won’t know where everyone is, or you can’t catch up with the group,” said the cruise boss.
“You’re able to see where your party are at all times through the app, and even get directions from where you are using the app as well.”
While the technology is able to add so much to the guest experience, the Ocean Medallion itself is “no bigger than a 10 pence piece”.
Guest can access the app using their mobile phone or tablet, one of the designated screens around the vessel or via the TV in their stateroom.
What’s more, there isn’t even an additional charge to enjoy the Medallion experience, as it is included in all fares moving forward.
“It really is as simple as just picking what you want with no charge having that brought to you where you are,” said Mr Roberts.
“It really fantastic experience and the proposition that we’ve got is an all-inclusive one that includes premium drinks gratuities and high-speed wifi.”
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