Royal Caribbean has not divulged when its new Starlink internet service will become available, but it's clear work is underway on a number of ships to install Starlink.
Ever since Royal Caribbean announced it would switch its ship-based internet service to SpaceX's Starlink service last month, cruise fans have been eager to know when the service might begin.
RoyalCaribbeanBlog reached out to Royal Caribbean for a schedule of when each ship would get the new service along with a start date for service, but the cruise line did not provide any such schedule.
A Royal Caribbean spokesperson did not provide a timeline other than saying, "the Starlink technology rollout will start immediately across all Royal Caribbean International ships."
Royal Caribbean Group promised to get Starlink to ships across all three Royal Caribbean Group brands by the end of the first quarter of 2023.
In the meantime, cruise ship passengers are seeing Starlink installation crews around many ships laying the foundation for the new service to start up.
We reported at the beginning of September seeing Starlink added to Independence of the Seas, although the service has not yet become operational as of the writing of this article.
According to readers, more ships are getting work done with teams onboard.
RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Michael Fenstermaker shared a photo from Allure of the Seas this week.
"There is a team of contractors aboard the Allure of the Seas planning the routing for the installation of cables to support the Starlink antennas," he said in his report.
Wayne Henderson is sailing on Enchantment of the Seas and also spotted a crew onboard.
"I'm currently on Enchantment in Halifax and they are installing the receivers on the forward section," Mr. Henderson said via email.
Over on Liberty of the Seas, Karen Fraser shared photos of the crew installing satellite receivers on that ship.
When will Starlink become available?
The short answer is no one really knows yet outside of Royal Caribbean when Starlink will become available on cruise ships, but the rumor mill has plenty of thoughts.
"They are already installed on the aft section and I was told it'll be operational in about 3 to 4 weeks," is what Mr. Henderson heard on Enchantment of the Seas.
Another reader, Jeff Robinson, is on Independence of the Seas and heard it will be a few more weeks, "Voom is on its last month of contract and when the month is over, Starlink."
Why Starlink on cruise ships matters
If having interenet access on a cruise vacation doesn't get you excited, you might be in the minority.
Just like anywhere on land, having reliable and fast internet access has become a way of life and not just for those looking to do some work while at sea.
Society has become more reliant than ever on having internet access, and on a cruise ship, the internet is the way to stay in contact with the outside world.
Whether texting or calling family, checking on the latest updates on social media, or tracking sports, casual internet use is a major need for a lot of travelers.
And then there's the contingent of vacationers who do have a need to keep up with work while on vacation, or prefer to work remotely from somewhere else.
Up until now, Royal Caribbean's internet service had been hit or miss, depending on the ship you sailed on and the region of the world you visited. All but the newest ships had mediocre to poor internet speeds, and even the new ship internet access was generally slower than internet access on land.
What can guests expect?
Royal Caribbean did not divulge technical details about the Starlink service onboard, such as what kind of speeds guests can expect or how much bandwidth each ship will receive.
They did say passengers should expect to use streaming services and make video calls once deployed.
Another big question is price.
No pricing has been shared for Starlink, and it remains unknown what price changes, if any, will occur as a result of the switch to Starlink.
When Royal Caribbean tested Starlink on Freedom of the Seas earlier this summer, they did not alter the prices during the trial period.
Many readers seem to think prices will go up as a result of the upgrade, but the company has not commented on pricing.