In brief: Starlink is hitting the high seas. Royal Caribbean has announced plans to implement SpaceX's Starlink satellite Internet service across its fleet for use by guests and crew, becoming the first in the cruise industry to adopt Starlink's technology.
Most cruise ships already offer some form of satellite Internet service to guests, but connections are often unreliable, slow and expensive. With any luck, Starlink will remedy at least two of these three pain points.
Royal Caribbean CEO Jason Liberty said it is the largest deployment of Starlink in the travel industry to date.
A cruise vacation for some is just that – a rare opportunity to unplug from our hyperconnected lifestyle and relax as you traverse the open ocean and visit various destinations. Others inevitably must maintain a connection to the outside world no matter what, perhaps for work or to stay in touch with friends and family on social media. For them, an amenity like Starlink could bring them one step closer to booking a sailing when they might have otherwise considered a land-based getaway.
Starlink earlier this summer launched its Internet service for personal boats, and it felt like the cruise industry would be the next big target. Starlink Maritime for individuals is very expensive compared to a traditional land-based installation but Royal will no doubt price its service in line with that makes sense for its passengers.
Eventually, cruisers may not have to rely on a ship at all for connectivity at sea. T-Mobile recently partnered with Starlink on a plan to blanket the US and territorial waters with text coverage. That service won't start rolling out in beta until the end of 2023. In time, the companies will look to add support for voice and data coverage.
Royal said deployment of Starlink technology will begin immediately on all Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises ships, along with all new vessels for each brand. The rollout is slated to be completed by the end of Q1 2023.