SpaceX is working to connect the ships of Royal Caribbean Group, the world’s second-largest cruise line operator, to its satellite Internet network, a recent filing shows.
Elon Musk’s space company requested—but has not yet been approved—to operate its satellite broadband service Starlink on moving vehicles, including trucks, aircraft, and vessels. Started in 2015, the Starlink project is designed to deliver high-speed Internet to users anywhere on the planet and has launched thousands of satellites, known as a constellation in the space industry, since 2018.
Its coverage could come to cruise ships soon.
Royal Caribbean Group detailed the plan to adopt Starlink to its sea-going vessels in a June 10 filing with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), seeking legal permission. Sent by Vice President of Operational Excellence John Maya, the email asked the regulatory agency to “expeditiously” approve the aerospace giant’s new plan.
“We write today to respectfully request that you act expeditiously and look favorably upon the pending application filed by SpaceX Services, Inc. and referenced above,” Maya wrote.
He cited negative guest experiences, underscoring the need for better satellite Internet access on board its ships, given service suppliers have suffered from attrition, bankruptcies, and consolidation under COVID-19-related lockdowns.
“We believe our work with SpaceX, the first of its kind in the cruise industry will set the standard for other cruise operators and will mean a leap in terms of guest experience and business operations while at sea,” the email reads.
Royal Caribbean Group owns three cruise lines—Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea Cruises—and has been contracting Internet for its ships from other providers, including O3b MEO.
While current Wi-Fi download speeds on ships range from only a few megabytes per second (Mbps), standard Starlink users can tap into download speeds of 50–250 Mbps.
SpaceX has so far launched 2,600 satellites into low earth orbit and is already providing Internet service to 32 countries, while the free Wi-Fi powered by its satellite broadband service is also set to arrive on airplanes such as those operated by Hawaiian Airlines.
The company also sent Starlink devices to Ukraine to help its people to communicate with the outside during Russia’s invasion since late February.