Royal Caribbean Looks to Add Elon Musks’ Starlink Onboard

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Ovation of the Seas cruise ship leaving Outer Harbour in Port Adelaide, South Australia

Royal Caribbean is looking to speed up its onboard internet speeds with the help of Starlink, an satellite internet service operated by Elon Musks’ company SpaceX.

The news comes after several airlines announced deals with SpaceX to add high-speed wifi on their planes.

Royal Caribbean Wants to Add Starlink to Its Fleet

Ovation of the Seas cruise ship leaving Outer Harbour in Port Adelaide, South AustraliaPin

In a Friday filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Royal Caribbean Group announced their intention to add the Starlink internet service to their fleet.

In the filing, “ohn Maya, vice president of operational excellence, stated, “we believe we have identified a true next generation solution for our vessels that meets the rigorous technical and”operational requirements commensurate with our growth plans.”

Royal Caribbean is the first cruise line to file a request with the FCC regarding Starlink’s use on ships.

The problem is that the FCC hasn’t granted SpaceX mainstream approval to operate Starlink on moving vehicles. In the letter, Royal Caribbean urged the regulator to move quickly.

“We believe our work with SpaceX, the first of its kind in the cruise industry will set the standard for other cruise operators and will mean a leap in terms of guest experience a”d business operations while at sea,” the cruise line added. “For this reason, we are eager to advocate for new market entrants to drive a marketplace innovation step change.”

Several airlines have inked deals to offer Starlink internet on planes, including Hawaiian Air and JSX.

Starlink Would Mean Faster Internet Speeds for Passengers

Close up of radar equipment on the Quantum-class cruise ship Spectrum of the Seas docks at Vladivostok harborPin

Royal Caribbean’s Voom internet is among the fastest in the cruise industry. However, the current satellite-based internet offered on cruise ships is far slower than expected.

Royal Caribbean has shared frustration with the current satellite internet providers for the past several years.

Cruise line internet relies on connections to old, high-orbit satellites resulting in high latency. Further, as more ships connect to the old system, users have less bandwidth.

In other words, as demand for satellite-based internet increases, the already struggling internet speeds have noticeably slowed.

According to the cruise line, “We continue to experience the same structural challenges and limitations in the satellite internet service provider industry that were present at the onset of the pandemic. The increase in marine vessel operations and the technology industry shift to cloud-based software solutions has meant an increase in satellite internet service demand.”

“Yet the supply side of the satellite internet equation has suffered from attrition, bankruptcies, and consolidation. This challenging landscape has resulted in Starlink’s guest experiences onboard, with bandwidth constraints that have slowed our desired business advancements.”

With the increasing demand by passengers for faster internet speeds, a faster connection is essential for guest satisfaction.

Royal Caribbean operates a fleet of 24 cruise ships. It’s unclear from the filing how many ships would receive the Starlink internet service.

What Starlink Means for Passengers

Person holding cellphone with logo of American satellite Internet company Starlink (SpaceX) on screen in front of webpage Focus on phone displayPin

On our last Royal Caribbean cruise, our speed test of Voom wifi found download speeds of 5Mbps. By comparison, Starlink promises speeds of 150Mbps to 500Mbps.

Starlink’s approach uses thousands of low-earth-orbit satellites, which provide faster speeds. Since the satellites are closer to earth, users experience lower latency and more stable internet connections.

Though the service is in beta, users report fast and reliable internet connections.

Starlink is available in 20 countries, including the US, Canada, UK, and Australia.

Article by

Marcello De Lio