Royal Caribbean Cruises Into a New Era

Cisco Full-Stack Observability helps a cruise travel innovator improve its customer experience.

Royal Caribbean Group

Leading cruise company Royal Caribbean Group has three award-winning brands—Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea Cruises—with 64 ships that travel to 1000 global destinations.

Industry: Hospitality
Location: Miami, FL
Size: 102,000 employees

Partner: NTT DATA



  • Lack of network visibility
  • Network downtime issues
  • Reactive management of IT issues


  • Full visibility of business-critical applications
  • Ability to more proactively respond to potential issues
  • Decrease in downtime and the number of critical incidents
  • Increased developer productivity
  • Improved and more reliable customer experience, from booking to boarding
  • Reduced mean time to resolution (MTTR) by 50%

When you think about Royal Caribbean Group (Royal Caribbean), what's the first thing that comes to mind? To most of us, it's probably visions of ocean views, umbrella drinks, and plenty of sunshine. But to Alice McElroy, director of operational excellence at Royal Caribbean Group, it's about one thing. As she puts it, "We sell experiences, not cruises. We're always trying to ensure that our guest experience is top-notch."  Achieving top-notch experiences means there's no room for any type of system failure or bottleneck.

That's why McElroy was drawn to Cisco Full-Stack Observability (FSO), a solution that helps customers enhance application performance, optimize resources, and strengthen security. 

McElroy says, "There were a number of things that drove our interest in implementing full-stack observability. Customers were telling us when our systems were down. We didn't know the system was down, but they knew. We also knew just because a system was up 99 percent of the time it didn't mean our customers' experience at the website was good 99 percent of the time." 

So, McElroy says, Royal Caribbean needed a better understanding of the touchpoints between a customer's visit to the website and how functions such as a customer's searches are handled on the server level. "There were a lot of points of failure," says McElroy, "and we needed to tune and understand those points of failure."

Real-time visibility: the value of FSO

To better understand where to focus within its tech stack, Royal Caribbean turned to Cisco AppDynamics and Cisco ThousandEyes, which are each part of Cisco's broader FSO solution.

The solution solves end-to-end service visibility challenges by providing deep insights into every dependency and every transaction of a complex digital service delivery supply chain. Such visibility has helped Royal Caribbean gain valuable insight into its business operations.

McElroy says, "The value that AppDynamics and ThousandEyes brought to us managing the call center, for example, is that I now have full-stack observability, not only from the application experience, but also visibility across the network experience. Now, I see everything. I see all the touchpoints and the failure points that are causing bottlenecks. With these real-time analytics, I know how many bookings are happening, and these insights are available because we're using Cisco AppDynamics and Cisco ThousandEyes." 

The value that AppDynamics and ThousandEyes brought to us managing the call center, for example, is that we now have full-stack observability, not only from the application experience, but also visibility across the network experience.

Alice McElroy, Director of Operational Excellence

When it comes to website operations, Alex Oliva, manager of operations on Royal Caribbean's e-commerce team, says the ability to see everything has already paid big dividends. Oliva states: "Analytics and metrics are the stars for us. We had an issue with the business journey for customers in the United Kingdom, and we were able to validate the issue, then graph exactly when and why the problem started. These are complex scenarios with different symptoms, so being able to query exactly what we need to know is a big win." 

The fact that Royal Caribbean had an appetite to truly understand the analytics piece of its network puzzle was music to the ears to longtime Cisco partner NTT DATA, the global services provider on the project.

"We were pleased that Royal Caribbean paid such close attention to the analytics piece," says Joe Maissel, practice director at NTT DATA. "When they were able to see exactly what was happening with a view into critical business functionality, it provided real value to them." 

The results: a cultural shift

While Cisco FSO has helped McElroy enhance the experience for customers, the results of the implementation have been equally beneficial for her team. She says, "Our culture has changed. We went from being a reactive type of organization to a proactive, preventive organization."

McElroy adds: "We used to work off spreadsheets and do an operational checkpoint, and each team would say by their gut how they felt the system was doing. Now, we not only know the health of our systems, but we also have visibility into business transactions, enabling us to build trend analysis on retention rates and the booking funnel. With Cisco solutions, we're data driven."

FSO improves team productivity

"Cisco Full-Stack Observability has helped improve our developers' productivity at Royal Caribbean almost 100 percent," says McElroy. "In this day and age where developers are responsible for not only developing the solution, but also supporting the solution, they still just want to spend their time developing. Now, they've integrated monitoring into the development cycle, so they know how the system is going to perform before it goes live. When we do go live, they get to spend more time developing and less time supporting a broken system."

McElroy adds, "Since the implementation of the Cisco AppDynamics platform, we've reduced our mean time to resolution (MTTR) by 50 percent. We've also decreased the number of critical incidents, which means increased uptime. And, as everyone knows, downtime equals lost revenue."

The Royal Caribbean and Cisco collaboration

McElroy is not only pleased with the Cisco FSO solution, but she also says she values how the collaboration with NTT DATA and Cisco helped Royal Caribbean improve the guest experience for its customers.

"We focused together on our challenges and on the solutions that would mean positive changes for our customers. Because of this shared commitment, I believe in the solution we implemented, but most importantly, I believe in our partnership."

Maissel agrees, saying, "Through our deployment and managed services with Cisco Full-Stack Observability, our goal is to empower our customers to be successful with the investments they've made. It's been rewarding helping Royal Caribbean get to where they are and partnering with them on where they want to go."