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RFID Sets Sail With Quantum of the Seas

Royal Caribbean has installed RFID technology on its brand-new ship, with wristbands that let passengers pay for food, drinks and services, as well as unlock state rooms, while RFID bag tags are used to provide updates about the location of luggage.
By Claire Swedberg

In addition, Martin says, the cruise line's staff will be equipped with about 500 mobile devices containing a built-in RFID reader, or with readers designed to plug into a device's USB slot. The USB readers were provided by Identiv, he adds.

Aaccording to Martin, Royal Caribbean created its own software to manage read data based on tag reads, with assistance from multiple vendors.

Royal Caribbean's Bill Martin
"Guest convenience is number one," Martin states. "Wearing a wristband allows the guest to forget about carrying a card around with them. They are waterproof, so they can wear them everywhere, in any activity." The RFID wristbands, he explains, offer an advantage over the magnetic-stripe key cards used by many hotels and cruise lines. "We have the added benefit of eliminating the de-magnetized card issue that plagues a lot of hotel properties, particularly when the guest uses the card over longer periods of time."

RFID technology is also part of the onboard photo service provided by The Image Group. Passengers will be able to tap their WOWband bracelets against an HF reader mounted on a table, to save and purchase pictures of themselves taken by The Image Group's photographers.

The cruise line intends to install the same RFID technologies aboard two new ships: the Anthem of the Seas, scheduled to launch in 2015, and the Ovation of the Seas, launching in 2016. "We plan to use RFID on future vessels," Martin says, "but have not made a decision on retrofits to older vessels yet."

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