Service crew

Royal Caribbean signs deal to roll out SpaceX Starlink internet service

Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas ship conducted a trial with Starlink Internet. Photo: Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean Group plans to implement SpaceXStarlink’s broadband connectivity service on all Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises ships.

The Starlink rollout will begin immediately and is expected to be complete by the end of the first quarter of 2023, Royal Caribbean announced Tuesday. The agreement will also apply to new ships for each of the brands. This is the first cruise line deal for Starlink, a constellation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.

Royal Caribbean recently conducted a Starlink trial on its Freedom of the Seas ship and said it received “overwhelmingly positive feedback from guests and crew.”

“This technology will provide revolutionary internet connectivity onboard our ships, enhancing the cruise experience for passengers and crew. It will improve and enable more high-speed activities such as video streaming as well as activities such as video calling. Using Starlink is another example of our continued focus on innovation and excellence for our customers, our crew, the communities we visit and our shareholders,” said Jason Liberty, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group.

“We couldn’t be more excited to work with Royal Caribbean Group to ensure that travelers at sea can stay connected with an exceptional internet experience,” commented Jonathan Hofeller, vice president of Starlink Sales at SpaceX.

Speedcast had a relationship with Royal Caribbean and began serving the cruise line in 2006. In 2018, when the companies expanded their bandwidth deal, Speedcast said it served 37 Royal Caribbean ships. It is unclear if this partnership continued after Speedcast’s bankruptcy and what its current status is.

The deal with Royal Caribbean is part of Starlink’s expansion into the maritime market. The FCC recently granted SpaceX clearance to operate Starlink Service on Moving Vehicles including ships and aircraft, and SpaceX announces maritime offer geared towards merchant ships, oil rigs and high-end yachts.

First introduced as a direct-to-consumer game for high-speed internet, SpaceX is expanding Starlink to other markets and applications. Last week, SpaceX announced an agreement with T-Mobile to equip the second generation of Starlink with antennas capable of communicating directly with cell phones. Such a service would fill the gaps in cellular networks in rural and remote areas and allow T-Mobile customers to send messages via Starlink satellites. The constellation has also attracted attention recently for deals in the aviation sector, with public charter airline JSX and Hawaiian Airlines.