Cruise ship giant Royal Caribbean has announced that it will equip its fleet with SpaceX's Starlink broadband satellite internet service. The dishes are designed to provide a "better onboard experience for guests and crews fleetwide," and will be installed on its Royal Caribbean International, Silversea Cruises and Celebrity Cruises ships.
Earlier this year, SpaceX unveiled Starlink Maritime for boats at a cost of $5,000 per month, on top of a hardware investment of $10,000. In comparison, the standard residential Starlink setup's hardware costs only $599, while the service costs $110 a month for 50 to 250 Mbps speeds (Starlink also offers a premium service that costs $500 per month with up to 500Mbps speeds). The Maritime service will deliver up to 350 Mbps download speeds.
The company tested the service earlier this year, offering packages called "Voom Surf" and "Voom Surf & Stream," according to Royal Caribbean Blog. That indicates that the service will likely be a paid upgrade, something that's usually not cheap on cruise ships. The testers saw respectable upload and download speeds and said they were able to watch YouTube and Netflix videos "with no lag or buffering."
Those speeds may change when the service is fully commercialized, though, depending on how popular it is and how many Starlink dishes Royal Caribbean uses on each ship. Depending on the line, the company's boats can carry anywhere from several hundred to nearly 7,000 passengers.
The cruise industry has struggled post-pandemic due to staffing, inflation and other issues. Starlink will be a good marketing point for Royal Caribbean, however, as cruise ships have notoriously poor internet service. Starlink, meanwhile, is aggressively pursuing the travel industry, announcing partnerships with Hawaiian Airlines and JSC, while also recently launching a Starlink service for RVs and campers.