Having a stable internet connection onboard a cruise ship is the holy grail for many cruise lines. While most cruise companies are opting for the SpaceX Maritime Internet option, others are looking at different options.
Carnival Corporation’s Adora Cruises brand announced a strategic partnership with Shanghai Telecom, stating their first cruise ship will be a fully 5G-enabled vessel.
This partnership marks a significant milestone, as it is the first time a 5G network has been installed on a cruise ship, and the Chinese cruise line will be setting a new standard if the results are satisfactory.
Adora Cruises Partners With Shanghai Telecom
It’s a nightmare for some and an absolute necessity for others. Still, there is no denying that having a reasonable internet connection onboard is more a requirement than a wish nowadays.
Adora Cruises is working towards a future where guests can enjoy a cruise experience with 5G connectivity and high-speed internet at all times. The company is implementing a roadmap to achieve this goal, which includes expanding network coverage and executing high-speed satellite communication and various digital applications on cruise ships.
Guests will be able to enjoy worry-free always-on communication with the latest wireless communication technology available on board, including the option to choose between WI-FI6 and mobile 5G network packages.
If the cruise line does manage to achieve the speeds that 5G is known for, guests could expect up to 1000Mbps. As a comparison, Maritime internet from SpaceX reaches speeds of 100–300 Mbps, although this depends on the number of users online, something that has little effect on speeds with 5G.
Mr. Chen Ranfeng, Managing Director of CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Limited: “With a clear insight into the importance of network services for Chinese customers, we are thrilled to partner with Shanghai Telecom, a leading 5G network service provider, to bring cutting-edge 5G technology to our cruise ships.”
“From network layout and satellite communication to various digital applications, our goal is to deliver seamless multimedia interactions and consistent mobile connectivity for guests and crew, allowing them to stay connected with loved ones and the world while at sea.”
First Cruise Ship Under Construction
Construction of the first ship for Adora Cruises is underway at the Shanghai Waigaoqiao shipyard and is expected to be delivered to the cruise line in late 2023. The cruise ship is being built in cooperation with Carnival Corporation. However, the company is still a separate entity from the company that operates Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and others.
The build will mark the debut of the first domestically built large cruise ship for the Chinese market, signaling a new era of cruise travel in the region. The yet-to-be-named ship belongs to the popular Vista class and will come in at 135,500 gross tons.
While the vessel is modeled after the Vista class, it will feature customizations tailored to the Chinese market, one of which is the 5G connectivity.
Mr. Gong Bo, General Manager of Shanghai Telecom, said: “We’re pleased to be partnering with Adora Cruises to build 5G network on a large cruise ship for the first time in the world, which demonstrates China takes the lead in 5G application innovation.”
“Combining 5G and satellite technology, we will focus on network communication, digital high-definition, AR/VR, and other content services to further improve the guest experience.”
The ship will also have entertainment focusing on the Chinese market, food for Chinese tastes, world-class shopping, and other cultural differences from ships sailing in Europe and the Americas.
What the Future Holds for Cruising in China
The vessel currently under construction is just the first of several, with at least two more new ships in the pipeline and several older cruise ships, such as Costa Atlantica and Costa Mediterranea, that will also be converted to the same Adora Cruises standards.
Moving forward, the company will be looking to install Shanghai Telecom-supported 5G connectivity across its full fleet of cruise ships.
The question is when these ships will be put to the test. There is no doubt that the relaxation of COVID protocols in mainland China will have a positive impact; when these changes will be visible remains to be seen.