The cruise line is adding something that will give it a big edge over Carnival, Norwegian.
Cruise ships essentially operate as floating resorts. They’re a Las Vegas-style refuge with every comfort known to man.
You can play casino games, relax in a variety of pools or hot tubs, watch a movie under the stars, or dance the night away. And, while your room may be small with a bathroom that’s more evocative of an airplane restroom than what you find in a typical hotel, you have a wealth of activities just outside your door.
When you take a Royal Caribbean International (RCL) – Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) – Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report, or Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) – Get Carnival Corporation Report cruise you can gamble, see a comedy show, watch world-class musicians, or see a production show that’s often Vegas or Broadway-esque.
And, of course, a Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, or Carnival cruise means an endless array of dining options. You can eat gourmet food or an ill-advised 2 a.m. pizza (after perhaps a few adult beverages).
But, with all of these choices at your fingertips, you often cannot send your jealous friends at home a picture of how much fun you’re having and efforts to update your social media often fail. That’s because internet, which generally comes at an added expense on a cruise, can often be barely functional, and sometimes it’s not functional at all.
That’s a major passenger pain point as you’re paying extra (roughly $15-20 per day for a single device) for something that does not work as advertised. It’s a problem, but Royal Caribbean has an aggressive plan to make that problem a thing of the past.
Image source: Daniel Kline/TheStreet
Cruise Ship Internet Could Use Some Work
Royal Caribbean calls its Voom Internet the “fastest internet at sea.” That may, in fact be true, but it’s a bit like Olive Garden calling itself “the finest Italian restaurant chain that offers free breadsticks,” or the New York Giants calling themselves New York’s best football team (sorry, Buffalo).
Both of those statements may be technically true, but they’re faint praise at best. The cruise line uses the following language to describe Voom:
“Royal Caribbean Voom, the fastest internet at sea, is now available on every Royal Caribbean ship. With six times faster onboard WiFi speed than you’ll find on any other cruise ships in the world, the internet connectivity is unlike anything you’re ever experienced on a cruise ship,” the cruise line shared on its website.
In reality, the internet may count as passable on the newer ships, and on the older ships, it’s more an idea than an actual service. Even on the newest ships, service can be spotty on days sea days and slow at the best of times.
Royal Caribbean has a plan to solve this problem by installing SpaceX Starlink internet on all of its ships. The cruise line has been testing that service on Freedom of the Seas and got permission from the U.S. government (which previously banned Starlink on moving vehicles/vessels) to install it fleetwide.
The company has not, however, communicated when that would actually happen.
Royal Caribbean Made a Deal With Elon Musk
Royal Caribbean has still not commented on its rollout plans for Starlink. But the Royal Caribbean Blog, which is not affiliated with the cruise line, reported on Sept. 14 that readers have seen the cruise line beginning to install Starlink’s satellites.
“There is a team of contractors aboard the Allure of the Seas planning the routing for the installation of cables to support the Starlink antennas,” reader Michael Fenstermaker shared with the blog, along with a photo of the work being done.
That matched reports from other readers who shared that installation work has already commenced on multiple ships.
The cruise line did not share an exact timetable as to when the service would be offered, but it did share a comment with Royal Caribbean Blog’s Matt Hochberg.
“The Starlink technology rollout will start immediately across all Royal Caribbean International ships.”
That’s an encouraging sign for upcoming passengers and a step toward giving Royal Caribbean a major edge over Carnival and Norwegian.