RFID Arena


RFID on board

This weekend I took a mini-cruise and was impressed with the RFID-enabled services on board.

Car ferries sail between the ports by the Baltic Sea on a daily basis. Their original business was transporting cars and trains from Sweden to Finland and Aland and vice versa. 1970s saw the change towards cruise ships and offering the passengers entertainment as well as transportation. Today most shipping companies offer so-called mini-cruises, which typically take 20-24 hours and offer dining, clubbing as well as relaxation. In 2013 more than 15 million passengers travelled with the Baltic Sea ferries.

I got to travel on one of the newest vessels on the Baltic Sea. As an RFID enthusiast I was glad to see RFID used on board for one thing. Furthermore I enjoyed the way it had been implemented. I witnessed UHF RFID used in a restaurant and in the Spa and Wellness area. Although I've seen similar deployments with RFID before, I felt these were more sophisticated than ever before.

Spa & Wellness area

These days several spas already have some RFID-enabled wristbands, which allow the guests to make their purchases without money. The RFID wristband is used to collect all purchases and as the guest is leaving the spa, the total amount will be charged from him.

The Spa & Wellness area on this ferry is beautifully decorated and has an air of luxury in it. Therefore the wristband they offered for payment purposes really fit the place. It was small and rather sophisticated looking.

When I've visited other Spa's with RFID functionalities, I've often found that the RFID wristband is large and clumsy. And in most cases when I've wanted to pay, I've had to dig out the "coin" from inside the band. The "coin" will need to be removed from the band in order to place it in a special reading device - this is typical for HF RFID as the reading range is limited. As the Spa & Wellness area used UHF RFID readers, all I had to do was to hold my hand on top of the reader device and it would register my order. I did dig out the "coin" of course - just to see how it was. And I realized one benefit of this wristband: if the "coin" for some reason did break, you could easily replace it without having to order a whole new wristband.

 Wristband pics


Relaxed after my Spa visit I felt somewhat hungry and headed to a restaurant, which was described to offer "casual dining". At the restaurant entrance the hostess greeted us warmly, gave us credit card-sized cards and explained how they worked. We took the menus given to us and selected our courses and off I went to order them. I told the chef our orders and gave him our "credit card" and he held it on top of the reader (as you can see in the picture). As we left the restaurant we gave the cards to the hostess who repeated our purchases and when we agreed, she produced us the bill.

The benefit of this kind of self service restaurant is clearly in the number of the staff. No waiters were needed, although there was a person tidying up the tables. The benefit for the customer is that your meal is prepared in front of you and you know it is fresh. And if you didn't like it, the chef is near for you to give your feedback. 


I expect in the future we will see even more RFID-based services on board of the ferries. For families for instance the RFID wristband would be a great benefit already now: if the wristband would be used everywhere for payment, you could buy pre-loaded wristbands for your kids - e.g. worth € 20,00.

The ferries sell tax-free alcohol and tobacco products for their passengers. However, there is a limitation to how much alcohol one may bring to Finland / Sweden. Following the limitation would be easy if everybody entitled to buy it again had the wristband. Once your purchases are full, the cashier would immediately see it from the system. Perhaps in the future.

19 comments on “RFID on board”

  1. Gravatar of OffirOffir
    Posted 22 March 2014 at 13:37:01

    Hello Jessica,

    Can you please let me know the name of the vessel.



  2. Posted 27 March 2014 at 09:16:05

    Offir. the ship is Viking grace.


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  5. Posted 04 January 2018 at 11:32:20

    Offir. the ship is Viking grace.

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  8. Posted 13 February 2018 at 12:04:20

    Well, if you were impressed then their service must have been excellent. I might go on this cruise myself if I can complete buy assignments first. I will definitely invite my friends if I go on this cruise.

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