Cruise news: Job of the year, AI cruise assistant and more

From sustainability to technology, the Cruise world is leaving no stone unturned to keep up in the competitive world of travel and tourism. This week we have the most coveted cruise job of the season, AI enable cruise bots and more…

Say no to plastic

The culinary- and destination-focused cruise line, Oceania Cruises, has promised to eliminate millions of plastic water bottles per year through a new partnership with Vero Water.

This green initiative is a part of the brand’s OceaniaNEXT enhancements and the company’s larger Sail & Sustain environmental programme.

As part of its OceaniaNEXT initiative, the line’s ships will be outfitted with Vero Water’s still and sparkling water distillation systems starting in April. Installation of the Vero Water systems will ultimately eliminate an estimated three million plastic bottles per year. Vero Water’s uses dishwasher-safe glass bottles, along with its proprietary nano-purification system that has five separate layers of filters.

Vero Water is used around the globe by hospitality brands such as Ritz Carlton, JW Marriott, Kimpton, MGM Hotels & Resorts and Hyatt.

Princess Cruises ready for Japan

After a multi-million pound, two-week overhaul, Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess is ready for its Japanese voyage. The ship now includes enhanced entertainment capabilities and an upgraded spa and gym.

Diamond Princess will be based in Japan throughout 2019-20 – including during the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games – with round-trip departures from Tokyo and Kobe sailing to 50 destinations in 11 countries. The voyages will take guests to sites renowned for features and events such as spring flowers, summer festivals and fall foliage.

Additions to the ship include a Princess luxury bed created in collaboration with Dr. Michael Breus, a board-certified sleep expert. Diamond Princess also features the Izumi Bath – the largest open-air Japanese bath and garden complex at sea – a sushi restaurant and traditional Japanese entertainment.

The refit was completed in Singapore and continues Princess’ ‘Come Back New Promise’ campaign, with GBP 330m (USD 428m) being invested across the line’s fleet of 17 ships.

AI on board

MSC Cruises has employed AI technology to enhance the guest experience. ZOE, a virtual personal cruise assistant, will launch on MSC Bellissima and will then be available on each following new ship, including the upcoming MSC Grandiosa in 2019 and MSC Virtuosa in 2020.

Developed in partnership with HARMAN International – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, ZOE is a voice-enabled AI tool that can speak seven languages, answer hundreds of questions and provide information about on board services, guidance and suggestions or help to book a service. Guests say “OK ZOE” to activate; the voice recognition feature makes it easy for everyone to control and access information using only voice commands.

“Identified voice assistants and AI as the way to meet this need”

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO commented: “This was just the starting point in providing a connected cruise experience. There was a core guest need to be met, which was to find answers to common questions in a quick and easy way, enabling guests to make the most of their vacation.

“We researched the latest connected technologies and identified voice assistants and AI as the way to meet this need, and the work on ZOE began.”

Job of the year

A once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity is up for grabs courtesy Royal Caribbean International. Their spokesman said: “We’re looking for an adrenaline junkie who is not only hungry for adventure, but also has a unique ability to capture a moment and tell a story in a simple social media post.

“We already offer a huge amount of incredible, once-in-a-lifetime, on-land experiences as part of our cruise holidays – from zip wires and white water rafting, to walking on glaciers and hot air balloon rides. By launching this position, we’re hoping that the winning candidate will take our shore excursion programme to the next level.”

Open to UK and Irish applicants, the successful ‘Shore Explorer’ candidate will be selected by an independent panel of judges including The Vamps’ guitarist and ‘I’m A Celebrity’ star James McVey, and travel writer Nadia El Ferdaoussi in conjunction with Royal Caribbean managing director Ben Bouldin and Russ Francis, Royal Caribbean’s instagrammer-in-chief.

The chosen “millennial” will also be paid a salary equivalent to GBP104,000 a year as they shadow  Francis. With their only task consisting of posting their experiences on Instagram, Instagram Stories and IGTV, daily. Something the native generation (as they call themselves( are naturally good at, right?

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