Upstart cruise line Virgin Voyages wants to do everything a little differently than its rivals do.
Virgin Voyages wants to disrupt the cruise industry.
The Richard Branson-owned company has done this most notably by making its cruises adults-only. You must be 18 to board its ships, which enables the cruise line to fully cater its experience to adults.
While Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) – Get Carnival Corporation Report and Royal Caribbean (RCL) – Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, which also operates the Celebrity brand, devote space on their ships to kids and teenagers, Virgin does not do this. Nor does Virgin need to make its entertainment options family-friendly, allowing for racier options and a ship that’s always sort of a party.
Virgin has also tried in meaningful ways to make its experiences different from what its rivals offer. That includes not having a main dining room and having its lineup of specialty restaurants included in your basic cruise fare.
And in perhaps its most controversial choice, Virgin Voyages got rid of a cruise line staple: the buffet, replacing it with a food court featuring a variety of eateries.
It’s an experience designed to fix what the upstart cruise line’s creators saw as problems with the traditional cruising experience.
Now, as Virgin Voyages evolves, it’s improving its technology to deliver experiences that Carnival and Royal Caribbean don’t offer.
Virgin Voyages Borrows an Idea From Domino’s
Virgin gives each passenger a bracelet that works to open your cabin door and to pay for alcoholic drinks and specialty coffee (other beverages are included).
The app also can be used to plan and track your activities, along with controlling many of the functions in your cabin.
You can also use the Virgin Voyages app to do a number of other things powered by the DeCurtis Experience Platform.
“From the time a Sailor books their trip or uses mobile ticketing, all onboard experiences, from departure to the end of their journey, are enhanced by technology,” said Virgin Voyages Technology Vice President Frank Farro, using the cruise line’s reference to passengers as Sailors.
“A favorite luxury indulgence for Sailors is our unique ‘Shake for Champagne’ feature. By simply shaking their phone with the Virgin Voyages app open, and pressing a button, crew is alerted to deliver chilled champagne to the Sailor wherever they are on the ship.”
That’s a little silly, of course, and at best a mild convenience. But the use of that technology has been used to enable a broader “delivery anywhere” service.
“The same capability is extended to other services such as Ship Eats, to guarantee high-touch service to each Sailor’s onboard experience,” Farro added.
That means that if a passenger is at the pool deck or resting on a lounge chair in the sun, they can order food to that location.
Neither Royal Caribbean nor Carnival offers anything like that technology, which is similar to what Domino’s (DPZ) – Get Domino’s Pizza Inc Report uses on land to deliver your pizza to the park, beach, or anywhere else.
Virgin Offers an All-Digital Cruise Experience
Virgin Voyages wants to deliver a frictionless, all-digital experience starting when passengers upload any required documents before their cruises.
Having everything in digital form enables the cruise line to verify documents before you cruise, which makes for a faster, smoother boarding experience.
The digital experience also extends to what crew can do with their own app-based experiences. This includes the ability to create maintenance tickets, help passengers make or change dining reservations, and facilitate the required muster drill with the option to watch the demonstration video on personal devices or on the cabin TV.
Virgin Voyages has also used the technology to create a virtual queuing system so that passengers don’t have to wait in long lines.
“Instead, the Virgin Voyages app sends an alert when it’s their turn to board the ship, head to dinner, attend a show or disembark at a port of call,” the company said.
“This focus on a frictionless experience allows Sailors to relax and enjoy the amenities, and the technology driving these experiences creates a five-star experience anywhere onboard.”
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