KiwiRail brings VR entertainment on board ferries

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KiwiRail’s Interislander ferry service in New Zealand has introduced a cinematic virtual reality (VR) entertainment option for passengers.

Furnished by immersive entertainment specialist SkyLights, the VR cinema glasses will play 2D and 3D blockbuster films, documentaries and travel and relaxation content. There are also separate headsets offering programmes for children.

The VR glasses do not require wi-fi to play content, which makes them an alternative to passengers viewing content on their own personal electronic devices, given the limited wi-fi coverage in the Cook Strait.

“Customers see a screen that is the equivalent of a wide-angle cinema screen viewed from the middle seat in the movie theatre,” said Ahleen Rayner, KiwiRails’ executive general manager of tourism and marketing. “We know that for many passengers the spectacular scenery is the main attraction, but we are always looking at anything that can add to the experience, and sometimes a movie is what people want.”

The service is available to passengers travelling on KiwiRails’ three Interislander ferries. It is available for free in the Plus lounges and offered to rent elsewhere on board for NZ$20 (€11.5) per adult and NZ$15 (€8) per child. 

The decision to deploy this new type of entertainment follows the success of a two-month pilot programme, in which 92% of passengers were either very satisfied or satisfied with the service.

For SkyLights, the Interislander deployment marks a major milestone in its strategy to expand beyond its origins in the airline industry into the wider travel and hospitality sector.

“Waiting times, whether in flight or on a ship, offer an ideal opportunity to discover the unique and memorable entertainment experiences that VR has to offer,” said David Dicko, SkyLights’ CEO. “This industry first is an exciting step forward in establishing premium immersive entertainment as a part of people’s daily lives.”

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Marisa has been writing about transport design and the passenger experience since 2013 and is also a contributor to sister titles Aircraft Interiors International and Business Jet Interiors International. She has travelled the world extensively by car, plane, train and cruise liner.

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