Spacex Starlink aboard cruise ship

Cruise operator to use SpaceX’s Starlink to provide passengers with broadband

Image credit: Royal Caribbean Group

Royal Caribbean Group (RCG) – the world's second-largest cruise line operator – has said it will use SpaceX’s Starlink to provide internet services to customers on its cruise ships.

Starlink uses a constellation of orbiting satellites to provide continuous internet coverage to remote locations around the globe.

The first batch of 60 small satellites was launched in 2019, although the firm has been given permission to send almost 12,000 satellites into space, an endeavour that will require multiple launches over the course of several years.

RCG’s announcement makes it the first in the cruise industry to adopt the service which can provide high-speed, low-latency connectivity.

The broadband internet service will be installed on all Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises ships, along with all new vessels for each of the brands.

Deployment of the Starlink technology across the fleet will begin immediately and is estimated to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

“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, RCG CEO.

“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. Our work with SpaceX is another example of how Royal Caribbean Group continues to lead the cruise industry in innovation and adoption of cutting-edge technology.”  

As of July this year, Starlink consisted of over 3,000 mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), which communicate with designated ground transceivers. The service is currently used by over 500,000 subscribers globally.

The cost of the decade-long project to design, build and deploy the constellation was estimated by SpaceX in May 2018 to be at least US$10bn (£8.5bn).

Astronomers have raised concerns about the constellations' effect on ground-based astronomy and how the satellites will add to an already congested orbital environment.

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