How new tech is making cruising safer & greener

Cruise lines are working to make ships safer—for people, and for the environment.

The pandemic posed a unique challenge to the industry, one that cruise lines met with unique technological solutions. These include advanced air filtration systems, but also new ways of conducting onboard activities like checking in and dining that are specially adapted to the rhythms of cruise ship living.

Another challenge is reducing the ecological impact of cruising, whether it's recycling waste or reducing harmful emissions. Here, too, cruise lines are investing in more sustainable methods and machinery.

Safer ships incorporate tech solutions

As with airlines and hotels, cruise lines have had to adapt their operations to keep travelers safe during the pandemic. That's no small feat considering all the shared public spaces on a cruise ship, and unlike on a plane, travelers may spend days at a time aboard a ship.

One of the biggest considerations is air filtration. The Healthy Sail Panel, an advisory group put together by a number of cruise lines, recommended that cruise lines upgrade on-board ventilation with higher-grade filters. Many have followed through. Royal Caribbean, for example, advertises that on top of using high-grade MERV 13 filters, its ships take in fresh outside air from one side and expel it from the other. That way, air is completely replaced 15 times an hour in large indoor spaces, and 12 times an hour in guest staterooms.

Another major adaptation has been enabling social distancing on board. Princess Cruises' MedallionClass suite of digital features is a standout example—it enables travelers to check in quickly and safely, order food for delivery anywhere on the ship, find other members of their party on board, and more.

A pair of Princess Cruises' OceanMedallion devices in lanyard cases

Princess Cruises' OceanMedallion enables a suite of special features aboard MedallionClass-enabled ships that make it easier to stay safe.

At the start of a Princess cruise, MedallionClass handles the check-in process to maintain social distance, simplify the process of providing proof of vaccination and negative tests, and stagger guests' arrival times to prevent crowds. Rather than report to a muster station for the pre-cruise safety briefing, guests can watch it on their smartphone or stateroom TV, then simply tap their OceanMedallion at their muster station. 

The OceanMedallion is the centerpiece of MedallionClass and can be worn on a lanyard, bracelet, clip, and more. It communicates with the MedallionClass mobile app and the ship itself to enable seemingly magical abilities. For example, with OceanNow on the app, guests can order food and drink delivery to wherever they are on the ship—on any deck, indoors or out. Not only is this convenient, it allows guests to easily maintain social distance while eating. 

A MedallionClass screen aboard a Princess Cruises ship, with someone tapping on their itinerary for the day

MedallionClass JourneyView lets guests see the itinerary aboard the ship for the day and register for events, as well as locate members of their party via the OceanMedallion device.

MedallionClass can also help locate members of your party with its OceanCompass feature. Simply placing the OceanMedallion next to screens around the ship brings up a personalized itinerary with maps and directions, and the option to locate people you're vacationing with. Guests can also message one another through the MedallionClass app.

A door to a Princess Cruises guest stateroom, with a green light ring to indicate it was unlocked by an OceanMedallion

MedallionClass enables touchless unlocking of staterooms aboard Princess Cruises ships.

MedallionClass also includes an emphasis on touchless interactions wherever possible. If you walk up to one of the ship's bars, it will check you in and ensure drinks are charged to your account without the need to provide a credit card, input a room number, or handle a paper receipt. And when you return to your stateroom with your OceanMedallion, the door automatically unlocks—no need to touch a room key.

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Book a cruise with Princess & experience MedallionClass®

MedallionClass is featured aboard all Princess ships, so book any Princess itinerary for a high-tech experience.

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The orange Magic Carpet moving deck rests at one of the highest decks on the starboard side of the Celebrity Apex cruise ship

The Magic Carpet aboard the Celebrity Apex can move between decks, serving different purposes at different parts of the day.

Another safety innovation, at Celebrity Cruises, is a suspended platform known as the Magic Carpet on the ships Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Apex. The Magic Carpet can move between multiple decks, serving as a bar, an extension of the pool area, or a dining spot with great views, depending on where it stops. Crucially, Celebrity says it also serves as a platform that makes getting on and off tender boats easier and safer by allowing guests to simply walk across the deck to and from the tender—no stairs required.

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Book a cruise aboard Celebrity Edge or Celebrity Apex

Experience the Magic Carpet® for yourself aboard these 2 Celebrity ships. Sailings include many Caribbean destinations, as well as Mediterranean itineraries visiting Italy, France, and Spain.

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Greener ships reduce environmental impact

Carnival Corporation, the parent company of Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, and more, has been introducing ships powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) to its fleet. There are 4 so far, with Carnival's recently launched Mardi Gras being the first LNG-powered cruise ship in North America.

The Carnival cruise ship Mardi Gras

The Carnival cruise ship Mardi Gras uses liquefied natural gas instead of marine diesel, eliminating a large share of smog-forming emissions.

LNG is cleaner burning than the marine diesel fuel most commonly used by cruise ships today. Carnival says that switching to LNG eliminates all sulfur oxide emissions, 85% of smog-causing nitrogen oxides, 95% to 100% of particulates, and up to 20% of carbon dioxide emissions from generating power at sea and in port.

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Book a cruise aboard the new Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is currently sailing from Port Canaveral, Florida, with destinations around the Caribbean.

Browse Mardi Gras sailings and book online

The AmaMagna rivership on the Danube near Bratislava Castle

The AmaWaterways rivership AmaMagna incorporates green design features like solar water heating and smaller, more efficient engines.

The improvements aren't confined to the sea—riverships have been getting greener, too. AmaWaterways says all of its riverships take advantage of energy- and resource-saving features like solar water heating, LED lights, specially insulated windows, water recyclers, and power systems that can plug into port-side power so ships don't need to run generators while docked.

One of AmaWaterways' newest ships, the luxury AmaMagna, has taken things a step further. In addition to the features above, it runs on a 10-engine hybrid gas-electric configuration. AmaWaterways says this allows the crew to scale power up or down as needed, cutting fuel consumption up to 20%. (The smaller, more efficient engines are also quieter.) And for shore excursions, guests receive biodegradable water containers instead of plastic bottles.

Book a cruise aboard the AmaMagna

AmaMagna is currently sailing along the Danube visiting destinations like Germany, Austria, and Hungary. 

Browse AmaMagna sailings and book online | Why you should cruise the Danube

A AAA travel advisor

AAA can help you navigate a changing travel world

Handling all the details is no small task when planning a vacation this year. A knowledgeable travel advisor will be familiar with the travel rules, testing requirements on departure and return, and shifting change and cancellation policies that could impact your trip.

AAA Travel alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.

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