As travelers rejoice at the full return of cruise vacations, advances in AV technologies are delivering unique guest experiences, enabling convenient new features, and simplifying staff operations. Whether it’s the world’s newest, largest cruise ship or a fan favorite beloved by repeat guests, every vessel is competing to provide one-of-a-kind memories and excite passengers with novel environments and activities that often rely on digital technologies.
Are You Going Big, or Staying Home?
With such high levels of competition among cruise lines, the battle is on to deliver the most selfie-worthy spaces and experiences. Guests want to be wowed, not bored, so the word “subtle” isn’t a common descriptor for cruise ship vacations.
From dramatic acrobatic stunt shows and music performances to water parks and casinos, a cruise vacation is typically filled with bright colors and loud noises. Whether it’s a family seeing a movie under the stars or a bachelorette party on a bar crawl, it’s common for activities to have all the glitz and glamor of the Las Vegas strip. No matter the chosen activity, the latest audiovisual technologies are increasingly becoming a central thread that weaves through virtually every room and event.
For starters, the robust brightness and environmental protection offered by the latest direct-view LED (DVLED) displays are allowing cruise ship brands to design new outdoor spaces with enormous digital screens. Some of these DVLED screens are equipped with an optional light sensor that automatically dims depending on the lighting situation, making the displays equally capable of running in full sunlight or under a moonless night sky.
With manufacturers focusing on DVLED as the next big thing in display tech, these devices’ capabilities and attributes have progressed significantly. Ideas that were impossible, or just impossibly expensive, five years ago can now be justified thanks to lower equipment costs and greater awareness of DVLED’s superior performance, long life and durability.
One of the main benefits of DVLED displays is their module-based design that enables the construction of screens at any unique size or aspect ratio, so they can be specified and built to fit new or existing spaces. This can help reduce costs and construction downtime, as well as enable immediate upgrades when a need is identified. Also, unlike traditional LCD video walls with bezels in the middle of an image, DVLED displays are bezel-free with no visible dividing lines, making them ideal for public-facing installations like cruise ships.
These digital surfaces provide a 24/7 messaging platform for the captain and crew to communicate with passengers, which is often used to advertise upcoming scheduled events or port stops.
Enhanced passenger communications can also be achieved with Transparent OLED, a cutting-edge signage technology that beautifully blends in with its environment. The OLED displays are almost like a window that can show content or even enable touchscreen capabilities, making it an attractive showpiece that can help facilitate mobile check-in, provide an interactive map of the ship, or allow guests to explore potential activities – all while seeing through the content to breathtaking views of the seascape.
The New Cabin Experience
A combination of new displays and improvements to ship-wide infrastructure are changing the game for cabin design with major benefits for both passengers and operators. Typically, any interior cabins without views of the outside would command a lower price, limiting the profitability of the available space. A number of ships have already begun addressing this revenue bottleneck by transforming interior rooms with high-definition digital displays that are installed as “virtual windows,” complete with window frames or porthole covers. These crisp, bright displays connect with video cameras positioned throughout the ships’ exterior to present a life-sized, real-time view of the landscape outside.
As ocean-bound internet accessibility improves thanks to new satellite internet providers, operators are also beginning to upgrade in-room TVs with models that can access popular streaming services. At the same time, operators are increasingly replacing existing video distribution systems with video-over-IP (VoiP) solutions that enable unlimited channels, creation of different access levels with variable pricing, and provide far better central control for the onboard IT department.
It’s All Fun and Games, Until It Isn’t
Digital displays can provide a wide variety of benefits and activities on a cruise ship, but just like everything else on board, ensuring smooth, consistent performance from hundreds or thousands of displays requires knowledgeable staff with the skills to troubleshoot and fix both software and hardware issues.
The ship’s outdoor movie theater or high-tech performance stage must perform optimally every day, and any interruption can cause major headaches for staff while creating disappointment for guests. The toughest outdoor display models feature IP67 protection against ingress from water, humidity, dust, sand or dirt. While the requirements are less stringent, cabin room TVs are also designed with enhanced weather sealing that often uses a conformal coating to provide protections against dust and humidity.
Hardware maintenance is one area where DVLED displays deliver enhanced value, thanks to their modular construction that enables rapid replacement in the occasional situation of failing modules. Manufacturers generally provide replacement parts and training for these products as part of the purchase, so qualified employees can quickly fix any issues in under an hour, depending on its location.
Software or video delivery issues can be managed more easily in a centralized solution that enables ship-wide firmware updates and access to endpoint data, such as which TVs are on. A top-grade networking solution is vital to the modernization of any ship’s entertainment attractions.
All Aboard the Innovation Ship
Cruise ship operators who want to maximize bookings, encourage repeat visits, and drive passengers to share their favorite cruise moments can utilize the various types of ocean-ready digital signage to deliver customized spaces and unique experiences that create excitement and differentiate them from competition. By bringing the home media experience into the cabin, giving interior cabins a cozier ambiance with virtual windows, and expanding the options for digital signage placement throughout the ship’s interior and exterior, brands and ship designers can improve guest stays, simplify operations, and maximize messaging opportunities.
As the industry continues to experiment and invest in eye-catching designs and awe-inspiring spectacles, digital displays, including options for touch-screen wayfinding, will become even more critical for shows, common areas, special ship events and promotions.
Tracey Estes is a Senior Account Manager – Cruise at LG Business Solutions USA. Based in Lincolnshire, Ill., LG Business Solutions USA delivers business-to-business technology tailored to the particular needs of commercial display customers in the hospitality, healthcare, education, government and industrial markets.
This March 27 – 30 in Fort Lauderdale, FL, LG Business Solutions (Booth #529) will exhibit its latest technology offerings for the cruise industry at Seatrade Cruise Global — the cruise industry’s leading annual business-to-business event.
Learn more about LG’s cruise-ready technologies here.