I sat down during a cruise to mull over my thoughts on the experience so far and to write some comprehensive feedback to the CEO/head of experience for Royal Caribbean (RC).
Little did I know this writing was going to take on a life of its own.
It was a 2 week family cruise with a party of 16. We took the Explorer of the Seas.
Things I'm raving about
(1) The coffee is great. This is my 4th cruise. The coffee is high quality, always fresh and honestly adds a pip in my step. Every other cruise I've been on has had undrinkable mush for coffee.
(2) The coffee stations across the ship are great. Not having to go up 6 floors and traipse across a ship to get a cup of coffee has been absolutely fantastic.
(3) The cards room was top notch. Every cruise I've been on so far has clearly taken an empty off book room and named it a card room. It then gathers dust. This one was easy to access with plenty of table, lots of games and really energetic atmosphere. I could see many a family bond in that room. Ours sure did as I beat my grandmother 3 times at Mahjong.
(4) The waiters at dinner were polite, when they made mistakes they immediately apologised and rectified and every evening they asked for feedback. Kudos to Dayakar, I have never been asked for feedback and he went above and beyond.
Things I'm frustrated with
Pain points I identified
The four key points I think I identified in my feedback are:
Potential solutions to pain points.
Family Communication - The ship has wifi everywhere. While I don’t suggest making this free - there is a local network. That runs for free. Give us an app that lets us communicate between rooms on the local network. It would make life so easy.
Immediately I would worry about kids messing with it, so allow double opt in.
To make make use easier too, it could have a location feature where you can easily select and notify where you are on a drop down list.
The ship made wafty boring announcements all the time so we turned them off. The daily paper brochure had incorrect information all the time. The TV’s with daily information were wrong all the time. The clocks changed and the communication around this was poorly handled.
Solution - Ship app connected to local network. Users can set reminders on events, sign up to events virtually. Passengers can get updates in their hand. Passengers can see real time “business” of the ship based on where everyone is.
Passengers can submit feedback regularly on every interaction.
Passengers are rude, crowded and inconsiderate.
They’re on holiday so it’s hard to propose solutions here, but I know what heuristics can do.
Solution - Have reminders in announcements, on brochures and all communication to say please, thank you and excuse me to other passengers. You could even make a game of it with these phrases being highlighted in the local language every day.
Other solution - Have a short daily show or “snapchat story” made that gets placed on tv’s etc. It could include short interviews, pranks, stories, peaceful scene, mental puzzles, catchphrases. It could reward and tell off passengers for good/bad behaviour in a really light hearted way. This may increase the cohesion of passengers.
This is the first ship I’ve ever been on that asked for feedback during cruise. I loved it, but it got annoying and it was difficult to give feedback verbally everyday across a language barrier.
Have feedback cards?
Have a feedback hotline?
Have feedback terminal in internet cafe?
Feedback option on the app?
App could ask for activity & food NPS on everything you do.
A pause for thoughts
So there’s a common theme here around an app. As a passenger the benefits are great, but does the investment make sense?
Also - where would it get me?
Internally, it would be a bad measure for me say an app would make me refer more people. I already love cruises, but what I can say is that I have an off taste in my mouth. Royal Caribbean was great especially considering all the cruises I’ve been on, but I can’t say they are faultless, the way a few issues were handed let me down and I can’t blankly refer them to others who asked me how the cruise was.
Referrals when cruising are the lifeblood of growth.
Would an investment in this app make sense?
First - a notional ROI. I’m going to assume that the app is worth $1 per passenger to RC (its probably more)
This is how it could be sold if I was building it.
So I need to work out annual passenger numbers, and multiply by $1. Would this be a worthwhile business?
If the numbers are small - could this be a business if you sell the tech to everyone rather than just one cruise line developing.
Number of cruise ships in the world: 410
Royal Caribbean fleet: 26
Annual cruise passengers: 28.5million
Annual RC cruise passengers: 4.5million
I actually won't take the market sizing any further than this. These numbers are large enough that (A) an individual cruise line could absolutely profitably build and deploy this product, and (B) and outsider could build it and make a killing (the caveat being that they can sell to cruise lines).
Quirks with the product