Colorful illustration of a futuristic cruise ship with circuit board details.

The cruise industry has always been at the forefront of adopting innovative technologies to enhance guest experiences and streamline operations. One of the most exciting frontiers today is the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI), especially Large Language Models (LLMs), on cruise ships. From improving operational efficiency to personalizing guest experiences, the potential of LLMs is vast and varied.

Current Use of AI in the Cruise Industry

The journey of AI in the cruise industry has been subtle, but impactful. Machine learning (ML), a subset of AI, has been instrumental in optimizing routes and managing fuel, significantly impacting operational costs and environmental sustainability. AI’s role also extends to preventive maintenance, with systems smartly monitoring elevators and engine room hardware, thus averting potential issues before they escalate. The experimentation with onboard chatbot systems reflects the industry’s drive to enhance guest interaction, albeit with mixed success to date.

Challenges of AI Implementation Onboard

However, the cruise world has not added new AI tools and enhancements to every technology system overnight (which has largely been the case in the rest of the tech world.) As with any groundbreaking technology, integrating AI onboard presents unique challenges. This is primarily down to three reasons:

1. Previous issues with Guest-Facing AI systems
A number of expensive, high-profile AI bots have been scrapped over the years because of low ROI or poor functionality.

2. Offline access and connectivity issues
Even as connectivity gets better and better, offline functionality is still a must have feature of any new cruise technology. The problem with the on-prem LLMs out there is that they are simply not as good as the big cloud systems (OpenAI in particular). Racking a lot of expensive hardware onboard to produce a result that is underwhelming compared to what passengers might already expect from bots and LLMs would be a poor investment.

3. Privacy concerns
Some CTOs and CISOs of major cruise lines have told us that they still don’t 100% trust Microsoft or OpenAI with their passenger’s data, or internal systems. There is real concern that an AI system may leak information to competitors or passengers. However, the emergence of enterprise versions of cloud-based LLMs is promising a resolution to these concerns.

Advantages of AI in the Cruise Industry

Despite the above challenges, the benefits of AI, particularly LLMs, are undeniable. The efficiency and performance of LLMs have surged, making onboard implementation increasingly feasible. The capability of technologies like Llama2 onboard a ship would have been unimaginable just a few years ago, demonstrating the rapid advancement and exciting potential of AI in the cruise industry. Some of these models have improved so quickly that what was not possible three months ago is now straight forward.

LLMs for Passenger-Facing Systems

Sourcetoad is actively exploring the integration of AI in passenger-facing systems. Below are just a few examples of how AI can play a crucial role in enhancing the guest experience:

        • Sentiment analysis of news and survey data to ensure a positive onboard atmosphere.
        • Survey data analysis for immediate issue resolution.
        • Personalization will also see a significant boost with LLMs offering tailored recommendations based on passenger preferences for dining, excursions, and entertainment.
        • AI-powered personal travel assistants can help passengers build personalized itineraries.
        • Enhanced content generation, including language translation, will redefine onboard and shoreside experiences by improving accessibility.

LLMs for Crew-Facing Systems

The benefits of LLMs extend to crew operations as well.

        • Real-time translation services will bridge communication gaps within the diverse, international crew.
        • AI’s role in training and skill development, particularly through scenario-based learning, is invaluable.
        • Support for mental health, assisting with crew retention and well-being.
        • In terms of logistics, AI can streamline itinerary planning, inventory management, and internal communications, enhancing overall operational efficiency.

Conclusion

The integration of LLMs on cruise ships is more than just a technological upgrade; it’s a huge leap towards a more efficient, personalized, and enjoyable cruising experience for both guests and crew. As the technology matures and the industry overcomes initial challenges, the potential for LLMs to revolutionize cruise operations is immense.

At Sourcetoad, we are committed to leading this wave of digital transformation in the cruise industry. If you’re intrigued by the possibilities of AI in cruise technology, reach out to us. Let’s explore how we can navigate this exciting future together.