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Onorato tells why MSC's digital personal assistant is called Zoe

Zoe is the latest phase in the development of MSC For Me
MSC Cruises’ voice-activated digital personal assistant has a name: Zoe.

Explaining the choice of Zoe, MSC Cruises CEO Gianni Onorato noted MSC is a family-owned company with more than 300 years of seafaring heritage and it is a maritime tradition to involve the female family members in key events and developments.

The daughter of MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago and Alexa Aponte-Vago is called Zoe.

'Zoe is a family name as well as being a name that is internationally recognized and easy to pronounce no matter what language a guest speaks,' Onorato said. 'Choosing a family name was a way to combine tradition with our continued focus on innovation.'

Latest phase in MSC For Me

The digital personal assistant marks a new phase in the ongoing evolution of MSC For Me, introduced in 2017 with the launch of MSC Meraviglia. This connected cruise experience is also now available on MSC Seaside and on MSC Splendida with a special adaptation for Asia. It will be on MSC Seaview when the ship enters service June 10.

Zoe is being developed in partnership with Harman International, a wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, experts in the field of voice-enabled technology.

A bespoke device is being designed specifically for use in the staterooms on board and will be available in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Brazilian Portuguese and Mandarin. Zoe's primary task is to provide the passengers with a simple and stress-free way to find out information that's typically asked in person at the guest relations desk.

MSC Cruises said that with all of the technology on its ships, this is not designed to replace human interaction between crew and passengers, but rather to complement it by answering frequently asked questions, freeing crew to focus more personalized specific support.

'Smart' cabins and robotic entertainment

Onorato also revealed the next innovations to be introduced will include a more personalized one-to-one customer engagement in 'smart' cabins powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Zoe is the first step. Robotic entertainment is also planned.

Onorato announced the developments Thursday at Cruise Lines International Association conference in Southampton. Southampton is also where MSC Cruises will christen MSC Bellissima, where Zoe will make her debut.