Cruise Ship Sets Sail With Integrated Tech System

By Brian Fonseca  |  Posted 2003-12-22 Print this article Print

Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2—the largest ocean liner ever built—has deployed Discovery Travel Systems LP software to make guest services run smoothly and keep the luxury liner's IT systems operating efficiently in the background.

When the Queen Mary 2 luxury liner embarks on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., next month, a crew of some 1,200 will look to pamper 2,620 guests. The Cunard Line Ltd. cruise ship—the largest ocean liner ever built—features 14 decks that offer sports facilities, five pools, 10 restaurants, spas, shops, lounges, a planetarium and a bookstore. To make guest services run smoothly and keep the QM2s IT systems operating efficiently in the background, Cunard deployed Discovery Travel Systems LP software, which weaves together a cashless billing environment, security ID system and interactive guest accommodations tools.

DTS Ship Partner software integrates multiple third-party technologies, said Jeff Richman, director of business solutions and application development for Miami-based Cunard. As such, it powers QM2s complex property management system in handling embarkation and disembarkation information capture, multiple point-of-sale interfaces, and shipboard amenity systems.

DTS, of Alexandria, Va., developed the application to service QM2 using technology based on the OpenEdge platform from Progress Co., an operating unit of Progress Software Corp., of Bedford, Mass. OpenEdge features an application development environment that supports several standards, including Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition; Java Message Service; Web services; and XML. The product includes an embedded database, management functions and a Web-browser-enabled GUI.

"A lot of different things can go wrong when a lot of different [systems from different companies] are interacting," said Richman. "The objective here was to streamline and integrate the varied means of guest identification on the ship."

As part of this integration project, Cunard used OpenEdge to create a Guest ID KeyCard unique to each passenger. It can be used to interface with the ships systems to allow entry into the passengers cabin, speed up point-of-sale transactions, and provide additional security during embarkation and disembarkation.

For instance, the ID card enables a cashless experience via a billing system that receives charge information through online interfaces with a variety of systems, including retail stores, telephones, in-cabin minibars, passenger cabin televisions and a Wi-Fi Internet cafe. Richman said charges are directly entered and received from integrated modules across the ship. The system can print statements in multiple languages and convert currency.

Next page: Booking outings from passengers cabins.

Brian Fonseca is a senior writer at eWEEK who covers database, data management and storage management software, as well as storage hardware. He works out of eWEEK's Woburn, Mass., office. Prior to joining eWEEK, Brian spent four years at InfoWorld as the publication's security reporter. He also covered services, and systems management. Before becoming an IT journalist, Brian worked as a beat reporter for The Herald News in Fall River, Mass., and cut his teeth in the news business as a sports and news producer for Channel 12-WPRI/Fox 64-WNAC in Providence, RI. Brian holds a B.A. in Communications from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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