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More Americans are hitting the water. How cruise ship staff prepare for thousands of guests with the help of AI.

More Americans expected to take cruises this year than ever before and it's a tricky balancing act
More Americans expected to take cruises this year than ever before and it's a tricky balancing act 07:32

More Americans are expected to take a cruise this year than ever before. This means cruise lines need to plan for all those mouths to feed. 

While CBS News Senior Transportation Correspondent Kris Van Cleave was on assignment, getting special, early access to Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas, he found another story worth looking into: the cruise line's proprietary use of AI technology measuring food to reduce waste.


CBS News Colorado went Behind the Story with Kris to hear more about what he learned from the latest and largest vessel. 

Royal Caribbean has "a mountain of data—going in and weighing how much watermelon they put out and how much was left—for every dish. On certain cruises that are family-heavy, they already know they need to put more chicken tenders on the boat than if it's a Mediterranean cruise that caters more to adults."

This turns the waste issue on its head away from those on vacation who may have bigger eyes than their stomachs. 

"Once the food gets put out, it has to be eaten or it's going to be thrown away. I wouldn't feel guilty about eating the buffet. The bigger picture is, trying to right-size [guests' servings] so that less and less of it gets thrown away."

The debate continues about whether AI is positive or not. But Kris tells us the airline industry hopes to make travel a little easier for us using AI. 

"Alaska Airlines has a system that's helping them turn flights four to five minutes faster. That doesn't sound like a big deal on one flight, but if you multiply that by the 1,500 flights a day that they're doing, saving five minutes on every flight really does start to add up in more productivity."

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