We found ourselves in sunny Southampton on Wednesday to get hold of Princess Cruises Ocean Medallion for the very first time! Ocean Medallion was already on 3 ships, all Caribbean based, but on Wednesday Crown Princess was Ocean enabled to become the first Europe based ship to feature this brand new and dare we say game changing (?) technology... let's see what you think by the end of this blog but we certainly think so and not just at sea but possibly even on land too!
WHAT IS AN OCEAN MEDALLION?
Right, good question! Ocean Medallion is a small piece of wearable technology, the size of a €2 coin but ever so slightly thicker. Usually when you arrive at check in you'll receive a credit card sized cruise card but now on certain Princess ships you'll receive this little disc in a lanyard and bespoke pocket instead. You'll see it in the picture above sitting in a belt clip (more about customising below)
BUT WHAT DOES IT DO?
The limits of the Medallion are up to you as you can add several features to it. At its most basic it can do several things. First of all it will open your door for you. When you approach your cabin door, the technology in the door panel will recognise your medallion and unlock the door - all hands free! So when you have a drink in one hand, some cookies in another, a bag or a small child under an arm you'll be able to walk right in!! Handy!
If you're in a shop or perhaps trying to organise a treatment in the spa then your medallion will speed up the process by automatically adding it to your account. You don't need to fish it out of a bag or a pocket, it's all wireless and hands free. It doesn't need charging; it doesn't have an on-off switch so is always working for you.
Your photograph is linked to your medallion so staff can recognise you and receive certain information about you as you approach them which will help them serve you better...isn't it handy that they can see your favourite drink... another strawberry daiquiri madam? Don't mind if I do...!
So far so good but this doesn't sound very revolutionary does it... ok, hold on, with Ocean Medallion you can add several free apps which all enhance your Ocean Medallion Experience. Here goes, test at the end...
MEDALLION CLASS DIGITAL EXPERIENCES
OCEAN READY - GET ONBOARD QUICKER THAN EVER!
The Ocean Ready app ensures the quickest possible embarkation meaning you go from landside to buffet within minutes. Download the app, enter your passport details, take your own security picture from your phone, select a pin number and then when you arrive at the port you'll breeze on through! Less queuing, less delay, less faffing about with pictures and confirming details... Happy days! Oh and you only need to do this the first time...when you go on your second Ocean Medallion cruise this information will be held on your account!
OCEAN COMPASS - NEVER GET LOST AGAIN AND KEEP IN TOUCH WITH FRIENDS & FAMILY!
If you've used Google Maps or Find Friends on your phone and wished they worked on ships well...now you have something similar with Ocean Compass! First of all Ocean Compass will act as a navigation assistant throughout the ship getting you from restaurant to theatre easily without ending up getting lost in the casino along the way! (Unless you want to of course!!)
Ocean Compass also includes ShipMates, which allows you to locate your friends and family at across the ship! So, if you're sat on the balcony wondering where the other half has gone when they said they were just nipping out to the buffet for a few snacks... now you'll know...they're in the casino, they're in the bar, they are in the shop, they are at the ice cream bar Coffee & Cones... (can't blame them...mmm!!). This is going to be particularly invaluable when keeping an eye on the children, younger and older to ensure they are where they said they would be!
Make some new friends onboard? Add them to ShipMates and you can meet up with them in the bar after your appointment in the hairdressers is complete! You can also keep in touch with in-app messages either to individuals or groups which makes this absolutely invaluable!
OCEAN NOW - ORDER & HAVE YOUR DRINK DELIVERED WHEREVER YOU ARE!
You know when you are sooooo comfy on the lounger and the last thing you want is to move but then a G&T or a Diet Coke would be so refreshing... now you don't have to! Simply order on Ocean Now and the crew member will bring it to you wherever you are on the ship... if you move, they'll find you... oh yes...they will find you!! This is not just limited to drinks...food...suntan lotion...toiletries...MAGIC! Beats leaving notes in the stateroom or having to call room service or getting up out of that lounger! (Even works if you don't fancy queuing in the bar you're sitting in!!) We haven't yet tried to order anything to a jacuzzi but as Ocean Medallion is waterproof we expect you can have your drink delivered there too! ;-)
OCEAN VIEW - THINK NETFLIX FOR TRAVEL!
What else would you be watching when on holidays but travel shows!! Decide on your next destination or research your next port of call with some on demand travel shows...it's like a travel version of Netflix! So, watch it on your portable device or on your in room TV screen whenever you like!
PLAY OCEAN - GAMING LIKE NEVER BEFORE!
Create your very own Ocean Tagalong character and you're set for a world of games at your fingertips! This new character will interact with you across the ship on your device or on one of the many portals across the ship. Play games alone or with others, go on an interactive scavenger hunt or even turn your mobile into a controller and play in one giant game on the huge 'Movies Under The Stars' screen up on deck!
OCEAN CASINO - BRING THE CASINO TO YOU!
If Play Ocean is for the younger kids, Ocean Casino is for the older ones.. enjoy the thrills of one of 6 casino games by the pool, at the spa, in the bar or even in your stateroom whenever the ship casino is open!
OCEAN CONCIERGE - CONCIERGE IN YOUR POCKET!
Check restaurant menus, plan your day, double check activities or remind yourself of the next port! It's your one stop source of information regarding your cruise!
DO I NEED A PHONE?
Ocean Medallion possibilities are everywhere across the ship and you don't need a phone to enjoy many of the features... use your in room TV and use the endless amount of interactive screens across the ship! Having a mobile opens up more possibilities but if you want to leave it in the safe then you won't be lost without it!
SECURITY - OPTING IN AND OUT
Princess Cruises are keen to emphasise the security that has been put in place to ensure that your data is never compromised! If you lose your medallion no one else can use it because they will not match the photo assigned to your medallion so you won't have someone else running up bills on your account or able to access your stateroom. If you're unsure about this we would say TEST IT with a friend or family member at the start of a cruise and have your mind put at rest immediately.
Princess have told us that any data provided is not actually held on the medallion device (just linked to) and that all data held is safely encrypted with the very latest technology! However, you can set your privacy settings to safety only or opt out altogether! On Crown Princess we were advised that just 1 person opted out! The reason? They hadn't checked whether there would be an issue with their pacemaker and this magnetic device.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO WITH MY OCEAN MEDALLION - WEAR IT YOUR WAY!
One of the great features of Ocean Medallion is that you can personalise it to some degree and wear it whatever way you wish! It comes in a lanyard as standard but you can buy a belt / shirt clip ($8), a variety of watch straps ($12 (apple watch type) - $54 (gold bangle style watch strap)) or a necklace ($44). We loved the belt clip as you can easily clip it onto your belt, your trousers, your pocket, your shirt or blouse, your bag strap even... lots of options. The apple style watch strap will prove popular but the higher end necklace / silver or gold watch straps are perfect for those who are regular princess cruisers. If you are happy to stick with your lanyard you can but you can personalise the card insert int he colours of your country, or to mark an anniversay. Insert cards are $3 each!
WHICH SHIPS CAN I USE OCEAN MEDALLION ON?
Crown Princess is the 4th ship in the fleet to become Ocean Medallion enabled! Here's the roll out plan...
Caribbean Princess, Royal Princess, Regal Princess and now Crown Princess are all Ocean Medallion enabled!
12th October 19 - Sky Princess
27th January 20 - Ruby Princess
29th March 20 - Grand Princess
15th June 20 - Enchanted Princess
16th August 20 - Emerald Princess
16th October 20 - Coral Princess
20th December 20 - Island Princess
Expect others to follow at quite a pace!
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR MY FAVOURITE CRUISE LINE?
If you cruise with another cruise line obviously you won't be experiencing Ocean Medallion and what we believe are game changing features. They may individually be subtle touches, little moments that you think are clever, by the end of the cruise or maybe even on your next cruise (a non-Princess or a non-Ocean Medallion enabled cruise) you'll realise just what value Ocean Medallion brings.
As is always the case with these things where one leads others will follow. Princess have a history of firsts in the cruising industry that other cruise lines have incorporated (24-hour dining, flexible dining, weddings at sea, movies under the stars to name just a few!) and we suspect this will be another. Technology is already being used on ships...facial recognition is now a thing, Royal use wristbands on Quantum class ships, MSC have introduced Zoe (think Alexa) in staterooms so even if your next cruise is not with Princess it's important you know about Ocean Medallion...its features will impact you at sea somewhere in the future!
But why wait until then? Maybe you need to book a Princess Cruise to try it for yourself!