Cruise Lines Turn to IoT for Safe, Personalized Customer Experience

Cruise lines are looking to IoT for easy and engaging guest experiences. Wearable devices embedded with sensors and connected mobile apps allow guests to unlock staterooms, make contactless purchases, and explore interactive content on board the ship. 


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Image credit: Royal Caribbean WOW band

Carnival Cruise Line unveiled its OceanMedallion™ wearable technology a few years ago for a connected cruise experience for passengers. Now with COVID-19 precautions a top concern for ship staff and passengers, connected IoT wearables are taking on an important duty on the ship: safety and personalization. 

As part of Carnival’s OceanMedallion ongoing rollout, certain Princess cruise ships, Carnival’s sister company, have been outfitted with thousands of sensors and interactive digital portals and sophisticated data centers. IoT company Nytec, now owned by Accenture, partnered with Carnival for the OceanMedallion rollout. 

On these recently modified Carnival cruise ships, guests are given an OceanMedallion™, a small device embedded with Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) sensors. The OceanMedallion device is waterproof, and it can be worn as a pendant, wristband, or a clip depending on the accessory the guest chooses. Guests are also asked to download the Medallion Class mobile app. The OceanMedallion devices and the Medallion Class app connect to the cloud via multi-constellation satellites and interact via the thousands of sensors aboard the ship. 


The OceanMedallion devices can do a lot while providing guests with additional safety and security. The devices can unlock stateroom doors using NFC, so guests do not need to tap any sensors, which is great for germ control. Similarly, they can also act as touchless payment methods in the ship’s retail stores and restaurants, and they even work in the ship's casino. Carnival’s OceanMedallion removes the need for physical ID cards, credit cards, and key cards while onboard. 

Each OceanMedallion is individualized and contains encrypted data. When embarking and disembarking the ship, guests scan their OceanMedallion to show authorities their name, sail date, and picture. However, the OceanMedallion devices only function while onboard the ship. Carnival won the 2019 IoT Wearables Innovation of the Year award by IoT Breakthrough for its Ocean Medallion wearable technology. 

A New Wave of Cruise Technology

Carnival’s OceanMedallion devices also have location information, which can be helpful for staff and guests. Rather than leaving the pool deck to order a snack, food and drinks can be delivered directly to guests anywhere aboard the ship using BLE. Guests simply place their order on the Medallion Class app, and then ship staff can view each guest’s location and deliver their order. Guests can also view the cruise itinerary and activities, and also play games and stream entertainment and interactive content. 

Location data is also helpful for those traveling in groups. After receiving and accepting an invitation to join a group via the Medallion Class app, members can chat with and see the locations of other group members, without purchasing a WiFi package. This can be especially useful for groups with children, as the Medallion Class app also gives directions to other group members, ensuring no one gets lost aboard the ship. 

Staff also benefit from the OceanMedallion technology. The crew version of the Medallion Class allows housekeepers to determine which rooms to clean at any given time and also tracks which rooms have been already cleaned. Housekeepers don’t have to knock on doors or interrupt guests, because the Medallion Class app will indicate when guests are in their staterooms based on the location and action of their OceanMedallion device. Additionally, in the event of an emergency, staff can immediately locate any guest aboard the ship. 

blue smart band on cruise passenger's wrist

Image credit: Princess OceanMedallion™

WOW, IoT is on the Water

Royal Caribbean is introducing a similar wearable device, the WOW band, to make it easier to navigate its cruise ships. Like Carnival’s OceanMedallion bands, WOW bands are RFID-enabled wristbands that unlock staterooms. They are used for cashless payment aboard the ship and on Royal Caribbean’s private island. 

WOW bands are linked to guests’ SeaPass accounts, which contain information about their cruise, reservations, and activities. Guests can scan and tap their WOW band on tablets located in their stateroom to view their information, or they can use the Royal Caribbean mobile app. The Royal Caribbean app also allows guests to chat, plan activities, make reservations, and view ship maps. Guests still need their SeaPass card to embark and disembark the ship. 

IoT is making vacationing easier. Carnival and Royal Caribbean plan to use smart wristbands aboard all their ships in the future. Cruise companies are not the only ones looking to IoT for easier, more personalized vacations. Disney’s RFID embedded Magic Band has proven popular and useful across Disney theme parks. Given their intelligence and capabilities, it's no surprise that guests enjoy the convenience of smart wristbands. 

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