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Royal Caribbean wants to add Elon Musk's Starlink high-speed internet to its cruise ships

10 Jun 2022
Matt Hochberg

There could be a new generation of high-speed internet coming to Royal Caribbean's cruise ships.

Wonder of the Seas side view

Based on regulatory filings, it appears Royal Caribbean is engaged with SpaceX’s satellite internet system Starlink to provide internet service for its ships.

A new filing with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday details a plan to bring the new type of internet to cruise ships.

The letter was sent to the FCC by Royal Caribbean Group Vice President of Operational Excellence, John Maya, to ask the agency to "expeditiously" approve a new plan to use Starlink on Royal Caribbean ships.

SpaceX satellite

Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX, providing satellite Internet access coverage.

"We write today to respectfully request that you act expeditiously and look favorably upon the pending application filed by SpaceX Services, Inc. and referenced above."

Mr. Maya points to increased cloud-based services drawing a need for even faster internet accessibility onboard. He points to attrition, bankruptcies, and consolidation in the satellite internet business as not keeping up with demand.

"Working with SpaceX Services, Inc., 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.

"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 and business operations while at sea."

If you are ready for Starlink to be added to a cruise ship soon, there's a legal issue that is preventing it, which is why Royal Caribbean is appealing to the FCC.

SpaceX has yet to receive approval to operate its Starlink service on moving vehicles, including planes and naval ships.

Up until now, Royal Caribbean's Voom internet service has relied on internet from other providers, including O3b MEO. The O3b internet had made it on Royal Caribbean's newer ships, but did not get added to older ships in the fleet. Moreover, it has anecdotally not performed nearly as well more recently, especially when compared to other cruise lines, such as Princess Cruises.

As an example, this article was written onboard Serenade of the Seas, which clocked a download speed of 590Kbps and an upload speed of 360Kbps, with latency of 832ms.

Serenade of the Seas internet speed test

Starlink is capable of download speeds of 50-250Mbps for residential consumers.

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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