Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Sovereign of the Seas claims the largest computer system among cruise ships. The system cost approximately $1 million to put together in its entirety, according to estimates.

Sovereign of the Seas features a passenger service system (PASS), which is comprised of a network of more than a dozen IBM computers. The system itself consists of three integrated services: "Signet," a credit system that makes it possible for passengers to charge most purchases; "Cruise Control," an interactive passenger information system run through video terminals located in each cabin; and a hotel management system that keeps track of stock needs and personnel files.

In implementing PASS, IBM provided the hardware while RCCL did most of the software planning. According to Carlos Capote, an information systems representative for the line, crew members trained on the system for approximately two weeks; back-up help was provided for the first three cruises. At present, only one computer-trained operator maintains a position on board.

Capote also reported overall satisfaction with the system, which he feels has placed Sovereign of the Seas several years ahead of other ships in terms of passenger convenience and efficiency. RCCL plans to expand its computer systems to its other ships which already have IBM systems aboard.

However, to computerize ships to the same extent as the Sovereign would not only prove expensive, said Capote, but "very tough" technically as well. Unlike the Sovereign, which was primed for computer systems in the building process, most older ships are not equipped with specialized computer rooms, computer cables or the overall layout necessary to implement such an expansive computer system cost efficiently.