CruiseMultiple cruise lines are implementing Starlink, SpaceX's satellite internet service, to provide faster and reliable connectivity to passengers.

Cruise lines boost internet connectivity from the stars

Hurtigruten Expeditions offers free Starlink internet services to both guests and crew (but not penguins).
Hurtigruten Expeditions offers free Starlink internet services to both guests and crew (but not penguins). Photo Credit: Facebook/Hurtigruten Expeditions

After SeaDream Yacht Club and Royal Caribbean Group’s brands (Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Silversea Cruises) announced that they would implement Starlink for improved internet connectivity, many other lines have announced that they are also jumping on the bandwidth bandwagon. Utilising low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites and operated by SpaceX, the technology is able to offer a more stable and faster connection for small-ship operators, as well as the largest cruise companies.

Here are the lines adding Starlink for better onboard internet access.

American Cruise Lines

ACL beta-tested Starlink in 2022 and has now added it to its fleet.
ACL beta-tested Starlink in 2022 and has now added it to its fleet. Photo Credit: Facebook/American Cruise Lines

American Cruise Lines (ACL) has already added the service to its 2023 fleet of riverboats and coastal ships, and it is being offered to guests free of charge. The brand had previously beta-tested the new tech in 2022 to rave reviews from its client base.

The service is now available on its sailings ranging from Alaska and the Florida Keys to the Mississippi River and Napa Valley, Calif.

American Queen Voyages

Similarly, American Queen Voyages is the latest to announce Starlink implementation across its fleet of seven river, lake and ocean vessels — ready for their 2023 itineraries.

“Upgrading our included Wi-Fi to Space X’s Starlink will enhance the guest and crew experience on all of our vessels,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president of American Queen Voyages. “This new internet service will now allow guests to stay connected while deeply discovering North America, enjoying the comforts of at-home Wi-Fi at sea."

The ships will additionally feature cellular back-up connections from FMC Global Sat 5G for greater redundancy to the line’s complimentary internet connection.

"FMC’s innovative solutions integrated with Starlink’s connectivity enable applications and services that require low latency and significant Mbps of bandwidth, that were, until now, considered unrealistic or cost prohibitive,” said Emmanuel Cotrel, CEO of FMC. “We are pleased to help provide American Queen Voyages passengers and crew with best-in-class internet connectivity wherever they travel.”

Carnival Corporation

Proving the internet technology’s scalability, even Carnival Corporation is in the process of rolling it out on its worldwide ships, beginning with Carnival Cruise Line and Aida Cruises since December 2022. The plan is to expand it to Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line, as well as P&O Cruises (Australia), Costa Cruises and P&O Cruises (U.K.).

“For many of our guests, it has become more and more important to maintain the type of connectivity at sea that they’ve become accustomed to at home, and of course to share the unforgettable experiences of their cruise with friends and family,” said Josh Weinstein, CEO of Carnival Corporation. “We are in the business of delivering happiness, and Starlink makes it as easy as possible for our guests to share all their great moments and memories, giving them even more joy out of their cruise vacation.”

Weinstein added that the extra bandwidth will allow the Carnival brands to debut new services and features for the guests, improve connectivity for crew and better support shipboard operations such as equipment monitoring and ship-to-shore communications.

“High-speed, low-latency broadband internet is critical in our modern age, and we’re excited to provide Carnival Cruise Line and Aida’s guests an internet experience that makes their travel even more enjoyable,” said Jonathan Hofeller, vice president of Starlink sales for SpaceX. “In even the most remote waters, guests onboard Carnival Corporation ships will be able to share real-time updates with friends and family.”

Hurtigruten Expeditions

Hurtigruten Expeditions’ fleet is outfitted with Starlink internet service.
Hurtigruten Expeditions’ fleet is outfitted with Starlink internet service. Photo Credit: 2023 Hurtigruten Expeditions

Hurtigruten Expeditions is another independent company to employ Starlink onboard, offering the service for free to both guests and crew. As of October 2022, the line’s entire fleet (except its Galapagos ship) has also been running on the new internet connection in collaboration with long-time connectivity partner Speedcast.

“As the world leader in exploration travel, it’s only fitting that we bring the world’s most innovative technologies onboard our ships to further enhance the experience and day-to-day lives for our guests, crew, partners and the communities we visit,” said Asta Lassesen, CEO of Hurtigruten Expeditions.

Lassesen also indicates that once Starlink supports coverage in Antarctica and the Arctic, the Hurtigruten fleet will be ready to take advantage, as already expected in the southernmost continent at the end of last year.

“With vessels operating in some of the most remote and spectacular areas of the world, Hurtigruten Expeditions is an ideal partner for introducing groundbreaking technology in the cruise industry,” said Joe Spytek, CEO of Speedcast. “Speedcast’s expertise lies in our ability to combine all available connectivity paths and manage a complete service that offers the highest levels of uptime, availability and performance."

Besides offering a better connection to passengers and navigational crew, Starlink provides more immediacy to onboard scientists working on crucial projects in the remote poles from the line’s onboard Science Centers.

“The introduction of new technology makes it easier for everyone onboard to remain connected with friends, family and loved ones no matter where they are,” Lassesen said. “We challenge all cruise lines that follow our example by installing Starlink, and to also follow our example to make internet free for all crew members.”

Windstar Cruises

Windstar is launching Starlink across most of its ships by mid-2023.
Windstar is launching Starlink across most of its ships by mid-2023. Photo Credit: 2023 Windsor Cruises

Last, but not least, Windsor Cruises will be launching Starlink across most of its fleet by mid-2023. Star Pride already has the new Wi-Fi service, and Star Legend will have it this spring, followed by Star Breeze, Wind Star and Wind Surf. Wind Spirit will receive the service once it becomes available in French Polynesia.

At the moment, Windstar employs geostationary satellite service, Anuvu, for its internet. Starlink is set to support the Anuvu connection with greater reliability and speed.

“I am thrilled to be working with Anuvu and Starlink to offer our guests the latest in satellite technology," said Gregg Wagner, technology director of Windstar Cruises. “When the ships are inside the service area, faster speeds will alleviate much of the frustration felt at peak use times.”

Source: Travel Weekly

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