Business & Technology

Connecting Passengers to their Perfect Cruise Experience

By Fortinet | December 21, 2018

Marella Cruises, operated by TUI UK&I, offers everything from all-inclusive trips to intimate adventures, and has a proud history of transporting passengers to over 200 destinations around the globe. With a company mission to help passengers discover their smile, Marella Cruises has many years of experience in the art of delivering great cruise-ship experiences, with a home-away-from-home atmosphere across its fleet of six ships.

Making the most of life on board

Much of this experience comes from a clear emphasis on customer service to make each trip as luxurious as possible. But in the modern world, there’s no escaping the need for digital connection, even in the middle of the Atlantic. To keep things running smoothly, network access has become an important part of life onboard cruise ships. With this in mind, Marella felt the time was right to ensure it had the right infrastructure in place to support its increasing need for connectivity.

Building the infrastructure for internet access has understandably always been a challenge for cruise ships, especially once the need for network security and the power to govern passenger usage is factored in. Historically, connectivity and intranet services onboard cruise ships have been patchy at best, due to the limitations of delivering this service while at sea. Marella therefore needed a robust network which could support heavy usage across its ships.

Marella also knew it could significantly enhance the customer experience by offering more digital engagement. With most people now using apps and websites to find information and book services in their everyday lives, developing an onboard app was a natural next step for improving Marella’s communications.

As such, Marella planned to launch a digital companion application, Navigate. This would help passengers maximise their onboard experience, enabling them to access information about ship schedules and entertainment, in addition to making bookings like spa treatments, excursions, and tables in Marella’s a la carte restaurants.

However, Marella also wanted to offer this with no app download, over a ship-wide ‘intranet’ as opposed to via customer Wi-Fi. This would encourage widespread adoption of the platform, minimising the hassle and cost for passengers. All of this needed to be achieved in a secure manner, giving Marella’s staff access to the network’s security features.

Creating connectivity at sea

Although Marella had a clear vision for the platform it wanted to deliver, this couldn’t be done without a robust infrastructure in place. In light of this, Fortinet and channel partner Tes Media needed to provide a flexible solution which would offer highly available coverage, even in difficult to cover areas of the ships.

To meet this demand, Fortinet and Tes Media worked closely with Marella to plan and execute a new connectivity strategy. This was deployed smoothly in a four-week window, using over 600 Fortinet AP Access Points, a number of FWC 500D Wireless Controllers, a Wireless Manager, and two FortiGate Firewalls. To date, Fortinet has provided three ships in Marella’s fleet with onboard internet and Firewall solutions, with another ship planned.

This has given Marella’s ships a fault-free, high density infrastructure, in addition to supporting the delivery of the new Navigate app. This has led to widespread adoption of this platform, as passengers are able to access the content and services within the app without needing to sign up for customer Wi-Fi.

Along with Tes Media, Fortinet has allowed TUI to make the most of its existing infrastructure and helped it to plan for its digital communication strategies moving forward. It has also given IT staff the platforms and tools they need to access and govern their systems, whether that’s viewing security threat data or controlling internet usage. Fortinet has enabled this ability and more, all on an easy-to-manage interface.

Reflecting on the deployment, Rowan Stallard, Electro-Technical Manager, TUI UK&I Marella Cruises said “Network access has become an important part of life onboard cruise ships. Fortinet has allowed TUI to make the most of its existing infrastructure and helped it to plan for its digital communication strategies moving forward.”


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