USA Today's Gene Sloan is in Turku, Finland, doing a tour of the Oasis Of The Seas. In one of his blog updates - located here - he discusses several new processes the line plans to use on Oasis. Among them: security screening on the pier to get rid of the bottleneck at the gangway; universal waivers you can do on-line for ALL onboard activities (skating, flowrider, rock wall, etc.); bar waiters using electronic pads for drink orders, where the passenger will sign electronically as you do with Fedex so there are no piles of paper receipts to contend with.
Some of these will be made available for other RCI ships. I'd expect the electronic signing for drinks to go fleetwide at some point.
The only problem I see is, they're moving the bottleneck from the gangway to the pier. We were screened on the ground in Trinidad then again on the ship. The line to get into the screening area was at least 400 deep. The line to get on the ship was maybe 30 deep. This was on the Sea Princess that only held 1950 passengers. 5400 passengers passing through screening on the ground is still going to cause massive backups unless they have 15-20 lines open.
I think the plan is to have several x-ray machines and metal detectors on the pier, and have the area between screening and the ship be a sterile area so no further screening is needed once aboard.
I'm adopting a wait-and-see approach on the Oasis. RCI knows if they blow it on managing 5400 passengers, they will have a public relations disaster on their hands. I'd hate to be the person in charge of developing the crowd-control plans. That has to be a constant headache, with the ax constantly hanging over you.
I'm the opposite on the bar tab thing. I like taking my receipts and cross checking them against the final bill. E-tab is too easy to slip a few extras on the final tab, and most people probably wouldn't question it thinking that maybe they did have 13 drinks instead of only 10.
It's no different than like at the grocery store when you know the shelf said the price was $1.90 and it rings up $1.95. Most people just say "oh well" and let it go. Either they don't want to bother over a nickel or are too embarrassed to tell the cashier to correct it. But a nickel adds up to the store if every customer walking through the store that day gets over charged.
I am with Cruise Fanatic on this one. I keep my tickets and check them against the final statement. I have caught several discrepancies over the years, at least on CCL. Notably being charged for things I didn't buy. It's been better since they have to actually swipe the cards at the terminal now as opposed to just entering the number (they thought they had memorized).
They'll have the signatures electronically stored for any disputes, yet it can be a little late and a hassle if not caught before it is sent off to Visa Land.
Speaking of the grocery store, it is a weekly occurrence to catch errors on the ticket. Kroger's used to have the "scan-rite" guarantee. I got free toothpaste for a week once before they fixed the price.
I agree with the idea of elec signing however, I do wish to retain a paper trail..If thats not the case, we will need to track our spending so we can cross check as I have had charges on my billing that were not ours. I found that we went through the processing pier side and it didn't make much of a difference when we were inside with security.
We'll have to wait and see if they provide some sort of audit trail for the passengers. I'm sure that is something RCI has already considered will be a complaint (if there is no way to validate your purchases).
I think they should give you some kind of receipt for drinks. It can get hard to remember how many you've bought (especially if it's a lot!). I like to have a receipt too. I'd have to write it down somewhere that I bought something when and how much.