Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships Installing SpaceX’s Starlink Internet Systems
Anyone who's ever embarked on a cruise ship knows how bad the internet service can be when at sea. That, however, could soon change, with SpaceX landing its first cruise line partner almost a month after it launched Starlink Maritime.
The Royal Caribbean Group, one of the world's largest and most popular cruise line operators, announced Tuesday, 30 August, it'll be working with the Elon Musk-owned SpaceX to equip all its ships with Starlink internet systems, as Reuters reports. The deal is said to mark the largest Starlink deployment in the travel industry so far, coming just a couple of months after SpaceX got the green light from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to begin deployment on moving vehicles, such as commercial airlines and shipping vessels.
"This technology will provide game-changing internet connectivity onboard our ships," said Royal Caribbean CEO Jason Liberty. "It will improve and enable more high-bandwidth activities like video streaming as well as activities like video calls."
The cruise line operator wants to install the Starlink satellite systems immediately, and hopes to have the service available within the first quarter of 2023. This covers all vessels in the operator's fleet, including the Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises.
Details about the price of the service have yet to be shared, but going by how much the installation and operation could cost the company, passengers could perhaps expect to pay a premium price. According to TechCrunch, Royal Caribbean could be looking at US$5,000 of monthly charges for the service. On top of that, it has to pay at least US$10,000 upfront for the special terminals that'll make the service work.
The SpaceX deal comes after Royal Caribbean ran a pilot service on its Freedom of the Seas ship and received "tremendous positive feedback from guests and crew" for it. One blogger who joined the trial trip recorded download speeds of up to 77mbps and upload speeds of up to 15mbps.
SpaceX is also reportedly working with airlines to bring its satellite internet service to passenger planes. So far, the space company has already signed deals with two U.S. airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and JSX.
For those unfamiliar, Starlink is a satellite constellation operated by SpaceX that aims to provide global internet coverage. Starlink Maritime, meanwhile, is the service that brings network connectivity to sea vessels sailing across remote waters.
The Royal Caribbean Group announced that it'll be working with the Elon Musk-owned SpaceX to equip all its cruise ships with Starlink internet systems.
The cruise line operator wants to install the Starlink satellite systems immediately, and hopes to have the service available within the first quarter of 2023.
The new service allows passengers to stream high-definition video without lag and enjoy video calls – activities which weren't possible using existing cruise ship satellite systems.