Emailing on a cruise ship can be a challenge, and streaming video or texting photos is sometimes simply impossible. That’s because cruise ship internet has considerable limitations.
To put it bluntly, the cruise network speed is very slow. Passengers pay around $20 per day for access on one device (you can move between devices), and the service can be very inconsistent. On days at sea, when there are a lot of people on board using their phones to surf the internet, there are often interruptions and connections can be eerily slow.
Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) – Get Carnival Corporation Report and Royal Caribbean International (RCL) – Get the Royal Caribbean Group report There is this problem, although the speed will vary depending on the weather and the age of the equipment on board. The experience may also vary based on the number of passengers on board and the number of Internet packages purchased.
Royal Caribbean calls its Voom internet service “the fastest internet at sea”. That’s true, but it’s also relative, since maritime Internet performance in 1994 generally resembled a dial-up connection. The cruise line describes its high-end “surf and stream” package below.
“VOOM Surf + Stream Voyage Package allows you to message and video chat on messenger services, browse the web, send emails and post on social media, and live video chat. Plus, stream your favorite videos , movies, music and shows,” the company shared on its website.
And, of course, it can do all of these things in optimal conditions (clear skies, a limited number of people using the service), but even Voom is very slow compared to overland services. The good news for Royal Caribbean passengers is that the cruise line appears to have a solution to this problem.
Elon Musk’s Starlink test for freedom of the seas
Royal Caribbean quietly installed a Starlink satellite internet receiver aboard Liberty of the Seas in early June. Meanwhile, cruise lines have petitioned the FCC for permission to use the service on board because Starlink, the company founded by Elon Musk, cannot currently be used for anything that moves.
“We are writing today to respectfully request that you take prompt action and take a positive view of the pending application submitted by SpaceX Services, Inc. and referred to above,” the cruise line wrote.
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The letter made it clear that Royal Caribbean had high hopes for the service.
“We believe our partnership with SpaceX is a first for the cruise industry and will set the standard for other cruise operators, which will mean a quantum leap in both the guest experience and business operations at sea.”
The FCC has yet to answer publicly, but cruise lines have moved forward to offer Starlink internet on Freedom of the Seas. It hasn’t publicly commented on doing so, but multiple people have shared photos of the ship’s satellite receivers, and the Royal Caribbean blog recently shared a passenger’s experience with the new service.
How does Starlink play a role in freedom of the seas?
Nicole Feist wrote an article for the cruise line unaffiliated Royal Caribbean blog about her experience using Starlink in Freedom of the Seas. It’s important to note that Royal Caribbean doesn’t offer Starlink as an option, and there’s no promise that passengers will be able to use the service.
During her voyage, Feist and her husband purchased a Surf & Stream package as well as a low-end Surf package. Their experience was very positive and much better than their previous experience on Voom.
“Surf package had a download speed of 9.01 Mbps and an upload speed of 20.34 Mbps. Surf & Stream had a download speed of 77.03 Mbps and an upload speed of 15.72 Mbps,” she wrote. “On both devices, we tried watching YouTube videos and Netflix shows to see how they worked. Both packages allowed us to start watching videos right away, with no lag or buffering time.”
On normal cruises – even newer ships – it is often difficult, if not impossible, to have no delays (or sometimes none at all). The quality of their connection does vary based on where they are on the boat (their interior room is the slowest), but it’s still a lot better than what was offered before, and for things like video calls and streaming video to come Saying that seems to be enough.
Royal Caribbean has not commented on its plans to expand Starlink across its fleet, or even officially offer it to Freedom of the Seas. The decision may depend on FCC approval.
Fiesta has not tried a similar test.