Case study – Beaver hard at work onboard Azura1 September 2010
P&O Cruises and Beaver Solutions have sought to integrate digital signage and audiovisual elements to maximise customers’ experience onboard P&O’s latest superliner the Azura.
As P&O Cruises started its plans for building its latest and largest cruise ship Azura, it had very clear communication objectives set out to complement its passengers’ holiday experience. P&O Cruises chose a state-of-the-art digital signage and audio-visual solution to maximise the passengers’ exclusive cruise.
The cruise line also wanted it to be built as an integral part of the ship because the intention was to use the screens to communicate information to the passengers about the current location of the ship, as well as the huge range of activities on board.
Passengers can be on board for a few weeks, traveling from country to country. So the communication media need to deliver visually engaging and targeted messages while passengers are aboard, and the types of messages displayed on various screens need to be diverse and promote the ship’s many activities.
Beaver Solutions worked with P&O Cruises before, having provided similar installations for other P&O Cruises ships such as the Oriana, Aurora and Arcadia. For Azura, Beaver created a comprehensive and impressive digital network that informs, entertains and communicates using screens that are integrated into the ship design.
In total, Azura’s digital network has 45 high-definition LCD and plasma screens, ranging in size from 19 inches to 80 inches, and it features 15 channels. In the reception areas, in shops and throughout the ship, all of the screens display information that is relevant to the location. The screens promote the many services and activities on board. Passengers can also find out the ship’s location, local weather and important news announcements from live, up-to-date maps on the screens.
“Beaver Solutions understood the unique requirements of our business, giving us a practical yet elegant solution for communicating with our passengers,” said Graham Douglas, entertainment media manager with P&O’s parent company Carnival UK. “We are very grateful to Beaver for the time spent installing this project on board Azura and integrating it with our other systems. It’s an impressive system and we are delighted with the results.”
Have a drink in the Serengeti
In Azura’s luxurious Planet Bar, several 103-inch plasma screens display ambient and scenic views for guests. The mood of these screens and all of the various screens on board the ship reflects the situation and location they are in, helping to further integrate them into the cruise experience.
This chic venue boasts a unique audio-visual plasma wall that screens iconic, manmade and natural wonders from the world’s continents, creating a visual feast. Passengers can enjoy a cool drink, for example, while the jaw-dropping images of the Serengeti jump off of the screen and African beats fill the air.
The 8.2-meter LED SeaScreen is located above the pool on Deck 16. The SeaScreen is one of the most exciting features on board Azura, combining digital messaging with entertainment. During the day, this huge screen is used for group video games (such as Wii Sports) and plays video while passengers enjoy the pool.
After sundown, passengers can enjoy a unique experience as Deck 16 becomes an open-air cinema under the night sky while passengers cruise to their next destination. “SeaScreen, a first for the fleet, is a fantastic addition to Azura, and making it multi-functional has been very valuable to us and a great enhancement for our passengers,” said Douglas.”
Reliability and ease-of-use is key
One of the unique considerations with the deployment and management of this project is that it is sea-based. There is only a limited internet connection while the ship is docked, and it is impossible for an outside company to deliver support or system management while it is at sea.
This means that the system needs to be ultra-reliable and easily manageable by the crew. Beaver Solutions turned to digital signage software supplier Scala. Scala now supports the design, management and delivery of all content on the digital signage network across the ship. Scala was chosen, in part, because it had been used before on other P&O Cruises ships, and it had proven itself as very reliable, scalable and easy to use.
Content and templates for this project were developed by Beaver using Scala 5 Designer. Azura crew members use Scala 5 Content Manager and Player to broadcast content across the digital signage network via the ship’s infrastructure using video transmitters and receivers.
“This is an excellent example of a large and well-planned project. We’re very pleased with the outcome, as so often screens can be added as an afterthought. However, with this project, it’s clear that the screens and the content are part of the new ship, adding to the holiday experience of the guests on board,” said Barry Thurston, group chairman, Beaver Group.
Azura: Quick facts
- 3,100 passenger cruise ship
- Nearly 300 meters long
- 19 decks
- Three-deck atrium with dance floor
- Two-tier, 800-seat theatre
- Three main pools
- 11 places to eat
- 12 places to drink
- Ocean-view gym
- Oasis spa & thermal suite
- Exclusive outdoor spa terrace
- SeaScreen – alfresco cinema
- Planet Bar – with plasma screens showing the world’s most striking natural and manmade wonders