You thought cruise holidays were about visiting sun-kissed beaches or sights from antiquity, eating the finest food and watching a West End musical in a world-class theatre?
Think again. Princess Cruises want to to think it’s all about a high-tech disc the size of a 10p coin that can track your every move, anticipate your every thought – especially if it involves ordering a cocktail – and open doors as if by magic.
Arnold Donald, the boss of Princess parent company Carnival, introduced the Ocean Medallion to a spellbound audience at the mega Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas – an annual event which is the launchpad for every gadget you’ve ever seen, and many you haven’t.
From November the medallion will be in use on 3,500-passenger Regal Princess; next January it will be introduced on sister ship Royal Princess which will be sailing from Southampton throughout the summer.
To make it work, the ships will each be fitted with countless sensors and 4,000 digital screens, all connected by 75 miles of wiring.
Passengers will be sent the medallions before boarding (and be offered the chance to buy a designer wristband or chain to hold it). Using an a Ocean Compass app on their phone or tablet, they can upload their passport picture ready for a speedy check-in at the terminal.
Once on board, the medallion will track their progress around the ship, unlock the cabin door, and can be used to order drinks, room service food, shore excursions and spa appointments.
Family groups can use them to keep tabs on each other, which might be problematical if the Mrs Passenger discovers her husband is in the casino when he said he was attending a cookery lesson.
It will even continue working if Junior Passenger accidentally swallows it, and Princess’s UK boss Tony Roberts was quick to assure it would be harmless to do so.
“The Ocean Medallion represents the next generation of cruise and holiday technology and we are thrilled it will first appear on the Princess fleet,” he said at the UK launch to journalists and travel agents – in Soho rather than Vegas.
There were no dummy medallions available for inspection but Captain Greybeard is looking forward to receiving his own – preferably concealed inside a silver ducat dangling from a Swarovsky-encrusted chain. It’s the future.