Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has announced a trial run for high-speed Starlink internet access onboard ships, and if successful, the company plans to roll out the service to all three of its cruise line brands: Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Starlink Testing Confirmed on Norwegian Breakaway
The initial test of the high-speed, broadband internet service Starlink is being conducted aboard Norwegian Breakaway, one of the larger vessels in Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet. This will help improve internet speeds and reliability onboard the ship even while at sea, bringing guests a premium service.
“We are thrilled to offer Starlink on board our ships to improve internet connectivity at sea,” said Harry Sommer, president and CEO-elect of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
“This initiative is a testament to our continuous quest to find new and innovative ways to enhance the experience for both guests and crew while sailing on our award-winning brands.”
If successful, the improved internet service would permit guests and crew members alike better options for staying connected to family and friends, as well as to enjoy streaming services and online gaming if they prefer. At the moment, a slow rollout is tentatively planned.
The test period is essential to be sure the technology is as reliable as expected. “Ensuring that this technology meets our high standards of excellence for our guests is incredibly important to us, which is why we are introducing this cutting-edge technology across our fleet in a phased manner,” said Sommer.
“Once deployed, guests and crew will have a faster and more reliable method to stay connected with friends and family including by sharing in real-time the incredible memories they create while at sea.”
In addition to guest and crew usage, the enhanced high-speed service would also provide extra bandwidth to improve onboard services such as app usage, reservations systems, and daily schedule updates, as well as improve ship-to-shore connection for operational needs.
Starlink is the high-speed internet service offered by SpaceX, using low earth orbit (LEO) satellites to improve broadband internet connectivity around the world, particularly in remote and rural areas with less access to high-speed services.
To date, SpaceX has launched thousands of small but highly advanced satellites to create its ever-expanding “constellation” network for Starlink, and is able to frequently update its network with new launches of its Falcon 9 rockets.
Additional Ships to Be Equipped
If the test aboard the 145,655-gross-ton Norwegian Breakaway is a success, seven additional ships are planned to be outfitted with Starlink before the end of 2023.
Three of the ships are the newest additions to the NCLH fleets – the upcoming Vista for Oceania Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Viva, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Grandeur. The remaining four ships that will be the first outfitted with Starlink have not been announced.
In time and if successful, the company plans to roll out Starlink throughout all three fleets, a total of 32 ships – 19 for Norwegian Cruise Line, 7 for Oceania Cruises, and 6 for Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
The company is developing a timeline for the possible rollout across the three fleets, but no details about which ships would be first to use Starlink or when the service would be available are yet available.
Starlink on Other Cruise Lines
Several other cruise lines are already utilizing or planning to install Starlink access, including SeaDream Yacht Club, Hurtigruten, American Cruise Lines, and Windstar Cruises.
Other large cruise lines, including Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International, have already announced their own plans to implement Starlink service on their combined fleets.
Royal Caribbean, for example, began testing Starlink aboard Freedom of the Seas in mid-2022, and is nearing completion of rolling out the service across its entire fleet. Carnival Cruise Line is also in the process of bringing Starlink aboard its fleet in 2023.