Jun 21 | 5 min read

A Guide to Cruise Line Self-Service Kiosks

Cruise line self-service experiences are easier than ever with iPad-based kiosks for check-in, activity sign-ups, restaurant ordering, and more

Aila Staff

Cruise line self-service kiosks provide an opportunity for ships to capitalize on something they know well: the customer experience. From the time of boarding until the cruise ends, cruise ship customers expect a fun, frictionless experience. Waiting in long lines can put a damper on the fun. That’s why many ships have started to leverage cruise line self-service kiosks to improve the customer experience in a number of key locations throughout the ship. 

The promise of an unforgettable experience entices tens of millions of passengers onto cruise ships every year. In this nearly 50 billion dollar market, cruise lines compete to offer the very best entertainment, dining, and amenities. Creating a truly luxurious experience means digging deeper into the customer journey onboard and continuously finding ways to reduce friction and present smoother interactions and transactions at every customer touchpoint. This is why savvy cruise lines are racing to adopt innovative technologies that can enable more efficient, personalized experiences throughout the guests’ stay. Anywhere a guest has to place an order, purchase or reserve something, wait in line, or ask for help is an opportunity for technology to assist. 


Why use cruise line self-service kiosks? 

Cruise line self-service kiosks on cruise ships provide several benefits, among them: 

  • Consistent experience (by leveraging the same type of kiosk throughout the ship)
  • Personalization that caters your on-ship experiences to each guest’s preferences 
  • Reduced need for staff at every point of service
  • Reduced lines by deploying a fleet of kiosks at busy areas where bottlenecks are likely to form
  • Touchless experiences (that will remain important for cruise ships reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic to minimize the spread of illness on the ship)

Kiosks provide a consistent customer experience

Using consistent branding and signage is important on large ships where customers are likely to struggle with wayfinding. Part of making the process easier is to ensure that all of your self-service experiences look and feel similar to one another. 

Deploying a fleet of self-service kiosks that include apps that are built on the same UX principles can help ensure that cruisers aren’t expected to keep learning new ways to complete common tasks across the ship. Tasks like checking in, placing a food order, and signing up for events can all be achieved on the same kiosk. 

Cruise line self-service solutions on cruise ships can’t come soon enough. As we’ve learned from customer experiences in retail and healthcare, most customers will choose self-service over interacting with staff. For instance, about 73% of 526 shoppers said they prefer retail self-service technologies, such as self-checkout over interacting with associates. 

cruise line self-service kiosk

Personalizing the guest experience at every touchpoint

 Tablet-based touchpoints can provide myriad options for delivering personalized service, with a small footprint that can be embedded into any location. 

In the initial sign-up process for the cruise, guests are often asked or assigned personalized info — everything from room location, to payment information to dietary preferences. That information is then stored in a digital log. The log-in credentials for this personalized information can easily be embedded into a barcode or QR code. Scanning that code would enable a secure log-in for a personalized transaction, without the user having to input a username or password. 

Retailers like Starbucks and Whole Foods use a similar system to enable payments in brick-and-mortar locations through their respective loyalty programs—the brand’s app generates a 2D barcode that contains log-in information and scanning this barcode transfers that data to the point of sale for a nearly instantaneous transaction.

Cruise line self-service kiosks lessen the burden on staff and crew 

Cruise ship staff often face a difficult schedule with long hours and long lines of customers. However, many of their routine tasks can be automated with self-service kiosks and customer-facing apps. Guest check-in and ID scanning are tasks that are easy to automate and can reduce the length of lines, further lowering the burden on staff during peak hours (such as mealtimes). 

Self-service doesn’t come at the expense of security

While staff often an added and necessary layer of security for access points on the ship, iOS-based kiosks can provide advanced security features, powerful encryption, and ID authentication. iOS-based systems are significantly more secure than their other options. Android, for example, has a less secure marketplace, less reliable source code, and inconsistent updates to address security vulnerabilities. 

See how iOS-based kiosk check-in with ID scanning works with Aila’s Interactive Kiosk and visitor management software from our partner, Proxyclick:


Main areas to implement self-service kiosks on a cruise ship

Cruise ships serve as temporary but self-contained communities. So, all of the places where customers are used to receiving self-service on the shore (restaurants, stores, gyms, etc.) can be converted to self-services experiences onboard cruise ships. 

Dining areas

Restaurants, cafes, and cafeterias on cruise ships can benefit from self-service ordering kiosks and checkout stations, much like we now see at casual and fast-food restaurants. 

Activity check-in and sign-up

Fitness centers, dining halls, and activity centers like rock climbing and ziplining don’t need a complex system for entry, check-in, or sign-ups. Self-service kiosks can solve for all three. 

Controlled access

Guests and staff will have different levels of access. This can be managed by “badging-in” the same way hospitals and hotels handle it. The path of least resistance is to assign guests a QR code in their app or physical badge that will give them access to certain areas of the ship. 

Wayfinding and information

Cruise ships are large, sometimes confusing spaces for guests. Self-service kiosks can be used, in conjunction with signage and smartphone apps, to ensure that guests always have access to information they need to get where they want, when they want. 

Aila’s Interactive Kiosk for self-service cruise ship experiences

The Interactive Kiosk is a versatile, cruise ship-ready solution for check-in, ordering, access control, sign-up, ID verification, and more. Built exclusively for iPadOS, it offers fast, intuitive experiences, support for printers and payment terminals, and a range of mounting options for any environment. 

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