From the moment they step on to the gangplank of the luxury cruise ship Queen Mary 2, passengers will be served by a unique and all-encompassing IT network designed to cater to their every whim.
The $800m (£430m) QM2, which set sail yesterday from Southampton on her maiden voyage to Florida, is packed from bow to stern with digital amenities, from in-room on-demand movies to interactive television, internet access and a security system that tracks passengers' movements onboard as well as storing their passport information.
Every one of the 1,310 cabins is wired so passengers can easily make shore excursion reservations and dinner plans. The elaborate system is controlled with plastic barcoded cards issued to passengers as they board the ship. The cards, which are scanned as people board or leave the vessel, feature photos of each passenger and are used everywhere. They are also designed to help the QM2 staff track any onboard charges incurred by passengers.
Frank Finch, director of global technical services at Miami-based Cunard Line which owns the QM2, said the massive data network aboard the liner is built with redundancy to guard against potential system failures. Back-office functions are built around Novell's NetWare 6.0 system as well as Oracle and SQL databases.
The ship is the largest, longest, tallest, widest and most expensive cruise liner ever built, according to Cunard. It includes the first planetarium on a cruise liner, as well as what Cunard says are the largest ballroom, library and wine collection at sea. There are five indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a two-story theatre, a casino, boutiques and children's facilities run by British nannies.