×

Touring Royal Caribbean's $1 billion 'smart' cruise ship

Royal Caribbean on Wednesday unveiled its new Quantum class of ships with CEO Richard Fain telling CNBC it's the first true Smart Ship.

That claim is centered on The Quantum of the Seas using innovative satellite technology to deliver Internet connectivity on international waters that's of landline quality. Beyond setting gamers free to play X-Box LIVE in parts of the ship, that connectivity also provides a new backbone app that allows you to check in online or reserve services like dinner in one of Quantum's 18 optional restaurants for a small additional fee.

But the business case for other expensive innovations on the ship is even stronger. RCL's stock is up the best part of 60 percent over the past 12 months, a performance that far outpaces its quoted rivals Carnival Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Line, and is also four times as good as the S&P 500's gain.

Read More Royal Caribbean's quarterly profit jumps 34 pct

The Quantum of the Seas sails into New York Harbor.
Royal Caribbean International | PRNewsFoto
The Quantum of the Seas sails into New York Harbor.

One of the main reasons investors are warming to RCL is that Fain and his designers are perfecting how to add new, cutting-edge features on board every new vessel that make people want to travel—and book—that particular ship. All cruise ships tend to travel full of passengers. But in RCL's case it's had less need to discount prices to fill its ships. And more recently RCL's been better able to raise prices and therefore margins.

Sadly in six months time the Quantum of the Seas will sail on a one way voyage to Shanghai from where it will permanently home port, so RCL can better break the Chinese market. But for until then its sailing from Bayonne, New Jersey.

Here's a quick tour of the The Quantum of the Seas, including its skydiving experience in a vertical wind tunnel, dancing robotic bartenders and a passenger capsule that rises 300 feet above sea level. To safely adapt and construct some of these vast structures on a cruise ship requires nothing less than engineering excellence. And also explains why the vessel cost $1 billion to deliver today.