Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas already boasts of being the largest cruise ship afloat. This city-on-the-sea boggles the mind with numbers like she spans 16 decks, weighs in at “merely” 225,282 gross registered tons, and carries over 5,400 guests (at double occupancy) in her 2,700 staterooms from her home at Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale. Thanks to a partnership with Cisco Systems, she also has bragging rights for the Geekiest Ship at Sea.

Bill Martin, vice president and chief information officer, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. had this to say about the partnerhip. “Oasis of the Seas delivers a level of technological innovation that is unprecedented in our industry. The Cisco solution is central to the experience and enjoyment of our guests, which is our top priority. Cisco has been a strategic partner throughout this engagement, not only providing the technology, but also consulting with us and ensuring the solution would be architected to deliver maximum benefit to our guests around the world”

And just what is this technology? For starters, how about a Wireless Unified Network infrastructure with more than 900 wireless access points. Over 1,000 crew members will be sporting Cisco Unified Wireless IP Phones (model 7925G) complete with real time location tracking. It is expected that later in 2010, these phones will also be available for rental to passengers to make calls, text other passengers or even check on events around the ship. Children registered with the Adventure Ocean program will also be outfitted with a wireless tag that transmits their location to their parent’s phone.

All of the wait staff will be equipped with wireless POS (point of sale) devices so you’ll be able to purchase items literally everywhere on the ship. OK, I’m not so crazy about that one. However, one excellent application of that will be the ability to obtain waivers on site for activities like the wall climb or zip lining.

To provide for improved access to information, passengers will be able to use the 300+ interactive digital signs on board[i]. They will allow you to view menus in the dining areas, check restaurant availability, watch videos about spa treatments, and check showtimes in the theaters. About the only thing it won’t do is rub sunscreen on you, but I hear that may be in the 2.0 release…

Though I’ve never understood why someone would want to watch television on a cruise ship, you’ll be happy to know that the Cisco network also provides IPTV to every stateroom. That will allow high quality, trouble free broadcast even during the nastiest weather.

“A new technological benchmark within the travel industry has been set with Oasis of the Seas. The advanced technologies and communications aboard the ship are helping transform the way in which Royal Caribbean interacts with and serves its guests. With the Cisco network as the platform, Royal Caribbean is today setting the industry standard for the connected cruise line of the future,” says George O’Meara, senior vice president, Cisco Services, United States and Canada.

He just may be right.

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