Which way? Ask the Wayfinder

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If a “smartship” is so smart it ought to at least be able to tell you how to get from point A to point B while onboard, let’s say from the casino to your stateroom. Not to mention point C, point D and beyond.

That’s why touch-screen digital Wayfinders were created and introduced on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, have been included on every newbuild since then and retrofitted on most of the fleet.

Oasis cried out for digital Wayfinders if only because of its size and scope. Big enough to house the residents of Aspen, Colo. – as well as everything needed to feed, refresh, entertain, protect, inform, pamper, clothe and adorn them – Oasis, its sister ships Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas, and the similarly robust ships of the Quantum-class, can challenge guests’ sense of direction.

When Royal Caribbean hired Denver-based Four Winds Interactive to come up with Wayfinders to help guests, well, find their way, it was to offer more options than getting directions to their staterooms on boarding day.

“Another one is the restroom finder,” says Mario Angulo, media and interactive technology consultant for Royal Caribbean International. “It’s also broken out into a bunch of different venues. So if you hit ‘Entertainment’ it’s going to show you the list of all the entertainment venues. If you hit ‘Shops,’ it’s going to give you a list of all the shops.”

Same goes for Guest Services, medical facilities, the casino, dining rooms and more.

When a selection is made from any of the categories, written directions come up and a light shows the location of the destination on a map of the deck where it’s found.

Also included is a digital version of Royal Caribbean’s shipboard activities guide, Cruise Compass, an ink-on-paper handout that’s updated daily. The digital version is updated whenever and as often as necessary, filling the screen with the day’s up-to-the-minute schedule of events and activities at the touch of a finger. Along the way, as more ships were equipped with the Wayfinders, other features were added.

“One is called the Ship Locator,” Angulo explains. “Basically, when you click on it, it opens up a Google Maps experience and will show you where your ship is” as it sails. “It also shows you where all our other ships are, and the hope is that passengers see ships, maybe in Asia, and say, ‘Oh, I didn’t know Royal was sailing in Asia. Maybe for the next cruise I’ll see what I can find out about the sailings there.’”

A similar application, Port Explorer, does the same thing for guests wanting more information about their next stop, including an aerial view of the port, highlighted points of interest and a list of all other ports on the itinerary, each of which can be clicked for more information.

The Wayfinders – placed next to nearly all elevators and elsewhere throughout the ship – quickly won three awards for tech excellence from the Digital Screenmedia Association and Hospitality Technology magazine.