TC Makers: Inside The IT Room Of A High-Tech Cruise Ship

In order to prevent electrical fires, cables on a ship can’t be spliced. This means that a cable that starts at one end of the massive Quantum Of The Seas, Royal Caribbean’s latest pleasure ship, has to be over 1,139 feet long to reach the other end. That’s a lot of cable and it’s a lot of cable management.

Welcome to the world of on-ship IT, a discipline with its own rules, requirements, and techniques. This isn’t like setting up your LAN party because your LAN party doesn’t have to survive 10-foot waves and massive data downloads as passengers stream, Tweet, and Facebook all day and night.

We were lucky enough to be given a tour of the Quantum Of The Seas just as it was going into service. The ship has O3b satellite 600 Mbps connectivity and specially laid-out Wi-Fi access points that take into consideration its unique structure. In short, the Wi-Fi is fast and it’s everywhere.

The real goal here is to offer cheaper Wi-Fi on board and constant connectivity for always-on passengers – namely the kids of older passengers. While Mom and Mom enjoy a fine tipple on the fo’c’s’le, kids can keep texting. It’s a sad compromise but one necessary to keep nervous gadget lovers happy on vacation.

Seeing how a cruise ship is put together is an amazing opportunity. A main corridor runs down the entire ship where employees drag meals, linens, and drinks from the store rooms to the stately dining rooms, all the while, every passenger and sailor is constantly connected via RFID bracelets and interactive screens. You can make dinner reservations, check activity times, and even see ship-wide announcements, all wirelessly, and there is even Wi-Fi in nearly every room.

It’s an amazing step forward in sailing technology and could mean some interesting speed increases in other vehicles including planes and rockets. We go up close with all of it and bring it to you in this episode of TC Makers.

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