Royal Caribbean quietly fixes a massive passenger problem

Cruise ships, especially the newest ones from Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line have become massive floating cities. They’re a lot like Las Vegas Strip resort casinos as they’re filled with restaurants, entertainment options, pools, a spa, and of course a hotel.

These giant cruise ships welcome 5-6,000 passengers (or even more) and that creates some logistics problems. That’s why cruise lines stagger people getting on the ship. You don’t want 6,000 people showing up at the same time to boarding gets spread out over 5-6 hours to prevent logjams.

Related: Carnival Cruise Line addresses key onboard controversy

There are a handful of other times on a cruise ship when you notice the crowds and things might get a little backed up. Most of them, like entering the theater or another show venue are expected and understandable.

Waiting at elevators, however, also creates a pain point because traditionally they operate seemingly randomly. If you are on a busy floor, it’s not uncommon for it to take a few minutes for an elevator to show up, and when it does, it might already be full of people.

That creates a situation where crowds build up and sometimes chaos ensues. People my cut ahead in line or end up not getting on an open elevator because it’s too far from where they’re standing.

And, even once you get on a elevator, there’s a chance that it may end up stopping on every floor with people in the back needing to get out. Or, sometimes in a more frustrating way, the elevator might stop at every floor because someone’s kid opted to hit every button.

It’s a problem that can actually impact passengers and make their cruise worse. Royal Caribbean, however, has solved that problem with an innovative new technology.

Passengers simply pick a floor and are directed to an elevator.

Royal Caribbean fixes its elevator issues

On its newest ship, Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean (RCL) – Get Free Report has an entirely new elevator system. Instead of simply pushing a button and waiting for the elevator to show up, the new system allows passengers to input the floor they need to get to into a touchpad that then shows them, by letter, which elevator they should wait in front of.

It might take a minute or two for the elevator to arrive but once it does it will have room for you and, in many cases, the elevator will go directly to your chosen floor. At worst, the elevator will make a stop or two which are shown on screens inside so passengers know exactly what their trip will look like.

In the actual elevators there are no buttons. Once you’re inside you don’t have the option of changing what floor you’re headed to and you also won’t be forced to stop on every floor because of a kid who wanted to push a bunch of buttons.

“We were obsessively focused…We know a lot about the flow of people. We know a lot about how to create a delightful experience that also moves people around,” said Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley.

“We were really nervous about them,” Bayley said of the elevators. “We’ve been delighted with the elevator lobbies.”

Icon of the Seas is full of innovation

While regular cruisers will notice the elevators because it’s a change that impacts every passenger, that’s not the only innovation on Icon of the Seas. The first ship in the new Icon-class, Icon of the Seas also has a redesigned Royal Promenade — a two floor open space packed with restaurants and entertainment venues that serves as the heart of the ship.

Royal Caribbean has opened up the space making it flow between the venues and getting rid of dead ends. At heart of the Promenade sits the Pearl, a stunning structure that actually serves as structural support for the ship which allowed the cruise line to add windows along the promenade.

Inside the Pearl, the cruise line has transformed its Cafe Promenade into the Pearl Cafe, which offers Starbucks Coffee and an elevated menu of snacks and sandwiches.  From the Pearl, you can even walk up a flight of stairs to Central Park, an outdoor space that’s a literal park floating at sea.

It may seem like a small improvement, but Icon of the Seas has an openness where passengers can move between venues and “neighborhoods” without getting into elevators. That also improves the elevator experience because fewer people are using them to travel a floor or two. 

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