Starlink maritime has been making waves over the last couple of weeks, with Royal Caribbean Group, Hurtigruten, and Seadream already committing to the new, faster maritime internet service. Reports now show that even more cruise lines could be looking to install Elon Musk’s service onboard its ships.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Breakaway has been spotted with 11 satellite receivers onboard, pointing towards the cruise line doing testing to see if Starlink will be a fitting solution to bring an end to slow internet speeds.
Norwegian Cruise Line Testing Starlink
Norwegian Cruise Line is the next in line to bring super-fast internet to its ships. Reddit user u/Asleep_Operation2790 noted 11 Starlink dishes mounted on top of the Norwegian Breakaway cruise ship.
“On a Norwegian Breakaway cruise and spotted 11 Starlink dishes. Eight here on the top sundeck and three more behind me. It’s not active yet, that I can see, as speeds are slow, IP address doesn’t show Starlink, and latency is still 600+ ms. But at least the dishes are installed, which means a launch is imminent.”
While guests onboard did not see a marked increase in internet speed, the presence of the Starlink dishes means the cruise line is at least in the process of testing the connections. The service is already available to the crew onboard, some online reports have noted.
Starlink onboard the seventeen Norwegian Cruise Line ships would be a considerable improvement for guests booked on a cruise. The service is significantly faster than anything we’ve seen onboard cruise ships in the past.
Typically one Starlink receiver has a bandwidth of around 150-300 Mbps. With eleven receivers, the bandwidth would be much higher than the 300 Mbps the ships currently operate on.
The choice for Starlink Maritime is not just a choice for faster internet. The total costs for the internet service most ships have currently are upwards of 100.000 dollars per month. Each set of Starlink receivers costs 5000 dollars per month.
Suppose Norwegian Cruise Line decides to bring those savings to guests. In that case, internet packages will likely be much cheaper or could even be calculated into the cruise price, removing the packages altogether. Expedition cruise operator Hurtigruten announced last month it would not be charging guests or crew for its Starlink internet services.
What is Starlink Maritime?
Following in the steps of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Hurtigruten, and Seadream, Norwegian Cruise Line’s first endeavors into superfast internet onboard cruise ships is a sign that internet service could soon be as fast as at home for cruisers.
However, how does it work? SpaceX boss Elon Musk revealed Starlink Maritime a few months ago, stating, “Starlink Maritime allows you to connect from some of the most remote waters in the world.”
Starlink software engineer Joseph Scarantino explained on Twitter that Maritime’s dual-dish setup quadruples performance to reduce latency and signal loss at sea by creating a wider field of view. Like the standard service, it requires a clear view of the sky.
Using multiple setups, cruise ships can significantly increase the amount of bandwidth available for guests, crew, and the ships themselves. Starlink could bring download speeds up to 350Mbps while at sea, although this will likely be somewhat lower.
With two of the three biggest cruise companies working with SpaceX technology, the question is what the biggest cruise company worldwide plans to do. Carnival Corporation has been big on stating its tech advances but has been eerily quiet on the Starlink front.
With more guests finding issues with internet connectivity on the Carnival ships, it would only be a matter of time before Carnival Corporation takes the plunge.