Samsung offers cruises without ever leaving shore

Michael Sheetz, special to
David Ramos | Getty Images

Samsung is teaming up with Carnival to bring the high seas to travelers, who won't even have to set foot on a ship.

As excitement builds over virtual reality and the potential applications, Samsung's Gear VR headset is bringing landlubbers a new way of looking at what it is like to travel onboard the world's largest cruise line. Carnival is teaming up with AT&T and Samsung to capitalize on the trend, letting potential vacationers use Gear VR to be instantly transported to one of the cruise line's ships. Last year, Australian air carrier Qantas partnered with Samsung to make the Gear headset available to premium passengers on some long-distance flights, giving travelers snapshots of premier tourist locations in Australia.

Just this week, the Oculus Rift launched a $600 device that's part of a wave aiming to bring consumers into a brave new world of virtual entertainment. The VR market could be worth $80 billion by the year 2025, according to a Goldman Sachs research report earlier this year.

"Virtual reality is a great way to show what the cruise experience is like without physically stepping on a ship," said Josh Leibowitz, Carnival's chief strategy officer.

"The consumer feedback has been great, and we look forward to doing more with virtual reality in the future."

A man wears an Oculus VR headset as he plays a video game at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, June 16, 2015.
Oculus Rift launches as VR market heats up

Yet the jury's still out on whether VR devices have staying power or are just a momentary flash in a pan filled with once promising gadgets. Just a few years ago, Glass got endless hype, but its early promise quickly fizzled.

Mindful of the pitfalls, companies that use and manufacture VR are moving quickly to capture the hearts and minds of consumers. For its part, Carnival is looking to sway potential customers such as Tiecy Allen, who told CNBC she would go on a cruise "only if it was free." However, after watching the Carnival VR demonstration at an AT&T store in Midtown Manhattan recently, Allen's opinion changed.

"After watching that, I had a different perspective about going on a cruise," said Allen. "Being able to see the food and the atrium and the shows, plus the actual state room, that's better than just looking at pictures. You actually get to look and see all around."

Showcasing footage from three of Carnival Corp.'s cruise lines and multiple destinations, the virtual reality demonstration on a Samsung Gear VR headset is available in 133 AT&T locations nationwide. Eventually, the Gear VR demo will expand by 1,100 more.

CNBC's Althea Chang contributed to this article.