Royal Caribbean Is Getting SpaceX-level Internet — What to Know

This brings a whole new level of connectivity to the high seas.

Royal Caribbean ship
Photo:

Horacio Villalobos/Getty Images

The days of extremely slow Internet connections on cruise ships are finally coming to an end.

Royal Caribbean Group — the parent company of Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea Cruises — has announced plans to equip every single one of its ships with high-speed, low-latency SpaceX Starlink internet. The rollout will commence immediately and is anticipated to wrap up early next year.

"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," Jason Liberty, president and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Group, said in a statement. "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."

The announcement follows a trial on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, "which has received tremendous positive feedback from guests and crew," according to Royal Caribbean Group. 

There's just one little issue. Starlink Maritime, as the ocean-based program is known, only launched in July and it still has limited coverage. Right now, only portions of the coastlines in North America, South America, and Europe are covered by the service, not transoceanic routes. But SpaceX does intend to expand coverage to the rest of the year by the end of Q1 2023. (And to be fair, the vast majority of ships do sail along coastlines.)

Royal Caribbean hasn't announced what the service might cost guests to use, but according to SpaceX, the service will cost the cruise line at least $5,000 per month, per ship, plus the initial hardware cost of the Starlink terminals. Dual terminals cost $10,000, but it's likely that large ships will require additional devices.

Still, Starlink Maritime offers users up to 350 Mbps download speeds, which is a massive improvement over most satellite internet services at sea, and will undoubtedly be a boon for both guests and crew.

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