Virtual reality technology enabling travellers to take a 360-degree look around different parts of a number of cruise ships has been launched by retailer Cruiseabout.

Five months in the making and unveiled today in Sydney, the system utilises Samsung VR headsets to allow customers to view specially produced immersive videos filmed onboard. Produced in collaboration with Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International, the technology currently features two ships – Carnival Spirit and Voyager of the Seas – with Cruiseabout planning to expand its virtual offerings to include more ocean cruise ships, river and expedition vessels.

Putting on the headsets, viewers are transported onto one of the two ships at a time for a short onboard tour, offering a glimpse into a variety of different staterooms and suites, looking at lounges and bars, restaurants, kids and family facilities, central atriums and promenades and even some of the Dr Seuss or Dreamworks characters one may find on the ship at different stages of a sailing.

Virtual reality consoles are currently available in six of Cruiseabout’s newest stores around Australia. The company currently operates 69 stores, which will grow to 100 in three years. The video clips can also be viewed online and here on Cruise Advice. Each video features a navigation panel in the top left corner where viewers can control the view. Here is the first video, which takes guests onboard Carnival Spirit, which is based in Australia year-round.

Here is the virtual reality tour of Voyager of the Seas, which sails from Sydney between September and April each year:

Cruiseabout National Marketing Manager Monique Van Gelder said the virtual reality project had been five months in the making and that she was certain the ability for travellers to experience a ship firsthand without even visiting a port would be popular.

“We feel this type of technology can really tell a story. Yes, photos are great and yes, videos are great but virtual reality is so immersive that we can really showcase to customers new to cruising what cruising is all about.”

Van Gelder’s sentiments were echoed by Cruiseabout general manager Jarrod Pask, who added that the prohibitive cost of producing virtual reality videos had prevented the company from making the clips at an earlier time.

“The headsets we are using were only introduced in a consumer form late last year, while Facebook has only recently launched the functionality to host 360-degree video content, so we are at the forefront of virtual reality technology advances and proud to bring the experience to all customers.”

“This will be a game changer for the cruise booking process that is already a highly collaborative, interactive process, and we see access to virtual reality vision as a way to enhance the in-store experience for our customers, while ensuring all customers can access the vision via our online channels or their mobile,” Pask said.

The two videos have been produced by Panedia using a specially rigged mount made up of seven interconnected GoPro cameras filming a complete circle at one time. Each ship was documented in a few short hours, with the footage painstakingly edited together over three weeks in post-production.