I loved my time on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas yesterday. I visited the main dining room, the bar (of course), and went on a tour through the different cabin types. Then I took my VR goggles off.

“It felt like I was really there, it was so real.”

Those were my thoughts after experiencing first-hand Cruiseabout’s foray into the world of virtual reality cruising in Sydney yesterday.

Cruiseabout, part of the Flight Centre Travel Group, is the first travel provider to introduce this new technology into the Australian cruise market, giving consumers the chance to “try” a cruise before they book it.

For the moment, consumers can experience Royal Caribbean International’s Voyager of the Seas and Carnival Cruise Line Australia’s Carnival Spirit in full 360 degree glory.

However, the company is planning on expanding this to include more ships, including luxury and river cruises.

The virtual reality experience is made possible through the use of cutting-edge Samsung VR headsets which will gradually be rolled out across selected Cruiseabout stores in each state (68 stores across the country at the current time), as well as being available online on the Cruiseabout website – accessible through Facebook and mobile devices.

VRhead

Speaking to KarryOn yesterday, Cruiseabout GM, Jarrod Pask, said that the introduction of the new technology into its business will change the face of cruising in Australia:

“The whole idea behind this is a ‘try before you buy’ type scenario. It’s for customers that are a little unsure about going on a cruise. It takes things to the next level and gives them the chance to experience a ship before committing to it.”

Jarrod Pask, General Manager, Cruiseabout

Jarrd

He also said that the potential of VR headsets to lead to more sales is especially promising.

“The amount of customers that have put the goggles on, had a go, and said ‘right lock me in,’ is exciting.”

According to Cruiseabout, it can literally make the difference between booking and not booking.

It’s also useful for consumers that have cruised before but want to know the difference between a balcony view room and an interior room.

Indeed, the whole concept behind the VR experience is to empower and educate consumers during the booking process and give them the next best thing to experiencing the ships firsthand.

As we all know, cruising is growing in Australia, with about 4 percent of the Aussie population cruising in the last year.

According to CLIA, over two million Australians will have cruised by the year 2020.

Cruiseabout recently took out a string of awards at the 15th Annual Cruise Industry Awards in Sydney.

How do you think these VR headsets will change the industry?