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Royal Caribbean claims cruise ship satellite connectivity first with Starlink

Cruise ship operator Royal Caribbean is hoping to make sure its customers will never be starved of lovely connectivity by using Spacex’s Starlink satellite internet service.

This is the second significant announcement for SpaceX in a week, following its nascent collaboration with T-Mobile US. This one is set to yield tangible results far more quickly, however, as it involves the established Starlink service rather than an aspiration that is years from fruition. Royal Caribbean says it’s the first cruise company to employ Starlink tech, but it’s presumably just a matter of time before the rest of the industry follows suit.

“Our purpose as a company is to deliver the best vacation experiences to our guests responsibly, and this new offering, which is the biggest public deployment of Starlink’s high-speed internet in the travel industry so far, demonstrates our commitment to that purpose,” said Jason Liberty, CEO of Royal Caribbean Group.

“This technology will provide game-changing internet connectivity onboard our ships, enhancing the cruise experience for guests and crew alike. It will improve and enable more high-bandwidth activities like video streaming as well as activities like video calls. Using Starlink is one more example of our continued focus on innovation and excellence for our guests, our crew, the communities we visit and our shareholders.”

SpaceX boss Elon musk provided commentary in his customary fashion.

It must have been a nightmare couple of years for Royal Caribbean and the rest of the cruise industry. For at least a year after the start of the Covid pandemic they were presumably running no cruises at all and even now there must be considerable obstacles to getting back to business, not least enduring anxiety among their core customer base of older people.

The use of services such as Starlink seems like a no-brainer for cruise ships, although it remains to be seen whether it will deliver the kind of bandwidth Liberty (let alone Musk) anticipates to what is, in effect, a floating hotel/shopping mall/stadium. But if the promise of uninterrupted internet persuades even a few punters to take a cruise then it’s worth a try. The rollout is expected to be complete by the end of Q1 2023.

 

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