Let’s Get Technical
Bringing Passenger Processing into the 21st Century Facial Recognition Technology Reduces Wait Times and Strengthens Security
imely processing of passengers on and off cruise ships is critical to shipboard operations on already busy turnover days and for overall guest satisfaction. Every cruise company seeks to make this process as efficient as possible, so guests spend less time in line, and more time enjoying the comforts and entertainment of their cruise itineraries. An effective process is also integral to passenger and document screening which is required by law. In close partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), new technology is being evaluated to make boarding and disembarking cruise ships faster and more secure. Under traditional passenger processing, CBP officers manually check every passenger’s travel documents before boarding and upon debarkation. The process of an officer comparing a passport photo to the passenger in front of them is time-consuming and prone to human error. As more cruise ships are added to the fleet, the gap widens between passenger capacity growth and static CBP staffing levels in port making. As a consequence, manual document checks could become untenable unless passengers are expected to wait even longer in the terminal before boarding. Facial recognition technology provides an opportunity to make boarding faster than ever, improve the passenger experience and strengthen security. Passengers walk up to a camera-controlled gate or access point where facial recognition software is used to electronically confirm that
22 FIRST QUARTER 2019 | TRAVEL & CRUISE
“…SO THAT PASSENGERS CAN SPEND LESS TIME IN THE TERMINAL AND MORE TIME MAKING MEMORIES.” the passenger’s face matches their passport photo already on file with the cruise line and CBP. Once a match is confirmed, commonly in 3-5 seconds, the passenger is free to proceed onboard. When disembarking, passengers pass through a similar
access point where facial recognition is used to electronically confirm that the same passenger who boarded the cruise ship is now going ashore. Once confirmed, the passenger is be free to retrieve their luggage and leave the terminal. Passengers traveling using multiple travel documents, children without passports and those with outdated passports will continue to be individually processed by a CBP officer, but the vast majority of guests will be able to quickly move through the terminal and begin their vacation. Facial recognition technology in passenger processing has many advantages. Officers may become easily fatigued while confirming the identity of hundreds of passport holders. Using software eliminates potential human error and allows the CBP officers to leave their booths and move around the cruise terminal. Officers can now stand back to analyze behavior, ask questions and resolve any anomalies. Passengers can experience a more enjoyable boarding and disembarkation process to enhance their vacation. Many cruise operators are implementing new facial recognition biometric technologies either in pilot projects or in limited release in various ports. One example is Royal Caribbean’s implementation of this technology in their Cape Liberty Cruise terminal and Miami Terminal A. Cruise lines continue to improve the experiences they offer so that passengers can spend less time in the terminal and more time making memories.