The Pirate and the Sultry Wench recently experienced Princess Cruises’s new digital Medallion™ Class ship Regal Princess, and of course, there are stories to tell. (It’s us, after all.)
In Princess’s words, “Princess Medallion Class makes it even easier to connect with what matters most. From faster boarding and refreshments that find you, to turn-by-turn wayfinding and the best Wi-Fi at sea, Medallion Class™ makes your vacation even more enjoyable.”
It all starts with the complimentary OceanMedallion™, the size of a quarter and your key to the Medallion Class experience. It comes with a complimentary plastic case and lanyard. (If you’re used to wearing your cruise card around your neck, this is no different.) We quickly upgraded to a waterproof wristband ($12) to avoid flapping in the Mexico breezes. Clips, pendants and bracelets are also available, some in the fine jewelry category. (Again, the Medallion and lanyard are free – the jewelry is fun if you want to glam it.)
Like the former cruise card, Princess personalizes the chip in your Captain’s Circle level color with your name, ship, and sail date. US residents receive the Medallion within the three weeks before the cruise. It functions as your stateroom key, onboard credit card, and ship proof of access, but now all done electronically. Add in the apps connected to the Medallion and you have a whole new cruise experience.
How does the Medallion experience differ?
The Ocean Medallion does more than just replace the functions of the cruise card. The Ocean Medallion interacts with servers and portals (big TV screens near elevators and other public areas) on the ship to automate your billing, help you find others in your party, and find your way around the ship. You can also download the app into your smartphone or tablet and use all the features.
Once you have the app on your smart device, it will walk you through the steps to becoming “OceanReady”. It took Yvonne about 5 minutes to get both of our phones set up (and part of that was taking selfies so we didn’t look like escapees from a giggle house). The info you provide is no different from what you have on your personal information in your reservation. If you don’t have a smart device, no worries – it works without those too.
What does it do?
The Ocean Medallion has many nifty features we loved, like Ocean Now and Ocean Compass, and they do a lot:
- Expedited boarding
Don’t pack your Medallion – keep it with you in your carry-on. It will greatly reduce your boarding check in time! We literally walked up to the Medallion check in station, synced our Medallions by tapping them on a station, and were done. We were on the ship and heading for our cabin faster than it took us to walk from the transfer bus to the terminal. Super easy!
- Hands-free cabin door unlocking
When you approach your cabin door, the system electronically recognizes your Medallion and will unlock. No more balancing coffee and pastries while you dig for your cruise card! (A+++ in our book!)
- Onboard GPS system
The Ocean Compass app works both in your smart device and on portals around the ship. We used this on the portal (a big TV screen where the ship maps used to be) by the elevators to find our way to where we wanted to be next. No more flipping through the ship map or wandering aimlessly – unless you want to, of course! The app offers step-by-step instructions like your phone GPS system does.
You can also locate others in your party. (Parents can keep track of kids’ locations.) This is great when your spouse is lost in Horizon Court, trying to figure out where in the dining room we were sitting.
You can also message members of your party and others you add using the Ocean Compass app. This is a fun way to coordinate dinner plans or evening activities with new friends.
- Activity planning
The Ocean Concierge app lists events and activities either on your phone or portal, look at the dining room menus and check your ship-board account. While we still read our Princess Patter, mostly we checked what was going on by checking the app on our phones or on the portals.
- Instant charges to your ship account
Okay, this can be a bit startling at first. When you sit down to order a glass of wine in Vines and your server greets you by name, you find yourself searching your memory to see if we’ve ever run into this person before on a cruise! No worries about your memory going, though – the Medallion lets the crew know who you are. They verify your identity by the picture you’ve loaded into the Ocean Now app.
Your Medallion disk functions the same way as your cruise card, so you either tap to pay with the device or the server bills you from their device. You may need to confirm your name or cabin number if you are in a crowded location where their screen shows several Medallions close to them.
- Service on Demand
This next item is a cool feature! Say you’re hungry for a sandwich poolside, or you want an adult beverage after that strenuous dance lesson in the Piazza. You’ll no longer need to find a server or send an unwilling partner to the bar to order. In your smart device, you can peruse the menu and order and have the food or drink delivered to your location!
While the menu can be somewhat clunky to sort through, it’s nice to have the ability if you choose to use it. (It works in your cabin too!) No need to give your location, either – the app knows (all)!
More Power and Functionality Too
Medallion does more than replace the cruise card. It has all the bells and whistles you’d expect to find in a 21st century technology upgrade.
- MedallionNet Wi-Fi
We have all come to rely on and expect good Wi-Fi and let’s face it, most ships have slow internet, even slower in the cabin. That changes with MedallionNet. There was plenty of power to stream movies, post pictures on social media and chat with home via the Wi-Fi. It works by bouncing off two satellites and there were only a few times at sea that I found texts to be a little slow.
I got spoiled with access that actually worked! With the unlimited minutes package, I was not worrying about getting things done and signing off. At the time of our sailing, it was about $10 per day per device for unlimited service. When we sailed, Platinum and Elite Captain Circle members could use their free internet minutes or have a discount against the unlimited package.
- Ocean Interactive Games
There are several large-screen game portals around the ship where people can play games. These games are also available on your smart device. During our cruise, we saw many kids and families enjoying these on the large portals.
Something kind of cute is that you can design and create your own Tagalong avatar on the app. You can choose from a seahorse, turtle or angelfish and customize its colors and pattern. Each time you pass certain portals, your Tagalong will come out to play. While we did not participate on this cruise, I will on the next one.
- Ocean View
Programming is available to watch in your cabin as well as on your smart device in the Ocean View app. Several travel and destination series are available (at this point over 100 hours). We particularly enjoyed Ocean Treks with Jeff Corwin.
- Casino Games
If you like to play Casino Games wherever you feel like, you will probably enjoy Ocean Casino. You can play a variety of games on your device from just about anywhere on the ship. While the casino is just not my thing, we met other passengers who loved the app’s flexibility (and avoided the smoky conditions at the machines).
As with any new technology, there can be bumps in the road. No everyone is tech-savvy and some people (like Yvonne) would prefer to unplug on vacation. Here are the answers to some of the questions you might have.
- Is a smart device required?
If you want to unplug, or if you do not have a smart device, no problem. Your cabin TV and the portals around the ship will still tell you all you need to know, and your Medallion works fine without a smart device. And you don’t have to use a Medallion – we noticed one gentleman who completely abstained and still had a card.
- What if I’m not tech-savvy?
Throughout the cruise, staff is available at the Medallion kiosk to help with technical problems. They can also upgrade you to wearables for your Medallion. I also went to the Internet Café when I had an internet connection issue. Look for the bright blue shirts – those folks are Ocean Navigators and can help you out.
- What if I hate the lanyard thingie?
Onboard you can purchase waterproof wristbands in a variety of colors, clips (like a pedometer clip), and fancy necklaces and bracelets. Medallion accessories are available online for pre-purchase when you are setting up the other pre-cruise info in Cruise Personalizer.
- Maybe I don’t wanna – what then?
Princess says that you can opt out of all but the basic functions (as a room key). You can switch the Medallion to a safety (private) mode. You’d then need a cruise card to make purchases on the ship and to identify any additional services you purchased for the trip, like a coffee package or unlimited beverages. I would recommend you try the Medallion for a couple of days. We found it to be more convenient than a card and look forward to expanding our uses on another Medallion cruise.
- What’s not to love?
While the list of negatives is short, a biggie for those us accustomed to seamless tech can find the multiple apps clunky and hard to move between. They aren’t necessarily intuitive to use. We also found some of the individual apps dropped offline and we had to login multiple times without initial success, even when the rest of our Medallion system was working.
We also overheard some guests saying all this personalized service felt intrusive. We had to wonder what they had to hide. We found the offsetting benefits – like no more waiting to sign checks or multiple pieces of paper to shove into pockets or clutch in hands and that great hands-free cabin entry – to outweigh the loss of anonymity.
Where YOU can find Ocean Medallion
As of now (2019), Princess Medallion Class ships include: Caribbean Princess, Crown Princess, Regal Princess, Royal Princess and Sky Princess. Due in 2020 are Ruby Princess, Grand Princess, Enchanted Princess, Emerald Princess, Coral and Island Princess.
Some ships are getting their internet makeover before their Medallion Class rollout. Ships upgraded at the end of 2019 to MedallionNet Wi-Fi are Coral Princess, Emerald Princess, Island Princess and Ruby Princess. Due in 2020 for Wi-Fi upgrades are: Diamond Princess, Majesty Princess, Star Princess, and Sapphire Princess. For a complete list of future Medallion Class cruise ships, please visit the Princess Cruises website.[/text_block]