Royal Caribbean Group recently filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to bring SpaceX Starlink satellite internet service to its fleet of cruise ships. Within days it was discovered the company had already installed an array of Starlink dishes on the Freedom of the Seas to test out the service ahead of receiving approval, which it asked the FCC to provide “expeditiously.”
The Starlink service on the Freedom of the Seas has now received its first published speed tests and review, and it proved to be far superior to the cruise line’s previous satellite internet offering.
The tests comes from the Royal Caribbean fan blog, which recently booked a weekend cruise on the Freedom of the Seas in the hopes of testing out the Starlink service. As luck would have it the company had the service running during their trip, giving them the perfect opportunity to test it out.
Royal Caribbean offers two tiers of service. The first is Voom Surf, which is the basic package billed as being perfect for your basic internet needs like sending and receiving email, internet browsing, social media and more. There is also the higher tier Voom Surf and Stream, which offers more bandwidth and no speed throttling for streaming and more data intensive uses.
According to the blog, which is a frequent passenger onboard Royal Caribbean ships, “it was instantly clear that this internet service was above and beyond what Voom typically offered.”
While still in port and on the Royal Promenade deck, “the Surf package showed a download speed of 9.01 Mbps and upload speed of 20.34 Mbps. The Surf & Stream gave a download speed of 77.03 Mbps and upload speed of 15.72 Mbps,” they said.
Despite being advertised, and previously used only for basic internet needs, the Surf package was able to easily stream YouTube and Netflix without any buffering or lag time. The blog also tested out a Zoom call with video and audio and found similar results – no buffering or freezing.
While out at sea the service provided even better results, “with Surf showing download speeds of 19.93 Mbps and upload speeds of 8.19 Mbps, while Surf & Stream showed download speeds of 52.50 Mbps and upload speeds of 10.10 Mbps.”
The fan blog also reported being able to place FaceTime calls without any lag or delays, something which they have never experienced before using the previous service. They were also able to livestream several events while out at sea “without interruptions or buffering.”
The only times the service provided less than stellar results was in their interior stateroom, which is understandable considering the large number of metal walls blocking the signal. Even so they were still able to stream videos and use the internet much faster than they have previously.
As you can see, even in early testing Starlink is showing it could be a game changer for the cruise ship industry. Royal Caribbean blog said Starlink blew their “cruising Wi-Fi expectations out of the water.” The only downside according to them – “having to adjust our Wi-Fi expectations when sailing on other ships without Starlink.”
Source: Royal Caribbean Blog