The advanced voice recognition feature makes it easy for everyone to control and access information using only voice commands

ZOE – the world’s first virtual personal cruise assistant – is poised to take MSC Cruises’ Guest Services to an exciting new level with guest-centric technology that will further enrich their cruise holiday. Developed in partnership with HARMAN and Samsung Electronics, ZOE is a voice-enabled artificial intelligence (AI) that can speak seven languages. 

Available in every cabin and able to answer hundreds of questions about the cruise, she can provide information about onboard services, give guidance and suggestions, or help to book a service. She’s also easy to use; to activate her guests can simply say, “Okay ZOE”, and she’s ready to help. The advanced voice recognition feature makes it easy for everyone to control and access information using only voice commands. 

ZOE will launch on MSC Bellissima in early March and will then be available on each new ship, including the upcoming MSC Grandiosa and MSC Virtuosa in 2020.

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO comments, “The cruise experience is constantly evolving to become ever richer, offering an increasingly wide choice of services and facilities. In 2017 we introduced MSC for Me, an industry-leading digital innovation platform that revolutionised the way that guests were able to customise and personalise their experience. The technology was built into the very design of the new ships, incorporated into every step of the development process of each prototype, from conception and construction.”

Mr Onorato continues, “This was just the starting point in providing a connected cruise experience. There was a core guest need to be met, which was to find answers to common questions in a quick and easy way, enabling passengers to make the most of their holiday. We researched the latest connected technologies and identified voice assistants and artificial intelligence as the way to meet this need and so the work on ZOEbegan.”

ANSWERING QUESTIONS IN THE COMFORT OF THE CABIN

To ensure ZOE could respond effectively to all guests, she has been programmed and trained to respond to more than 800 of the most commonly asked questions with thousands of different variants of each question. Testing was carried out on the conversation designs – ZOE’s natural speech recognition and ability to transform speech into text and back again – in addition to scores of other behavioural, experiential and performance tests. 

As an artificial intelligencesolution, ZOE is designed to continue learning and developing her responses based on real guest interactions. While ZOE acts as a 24/7 virtual personal cruise assistant, she is not designed to replace human interaction between crew and guest, but rather to provide guests with the flexibility to communicate and discover information from the comfort of their cabins.