Virgin Voyages Deploying Unmatched Internet Speed at Sea

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Virgin Voyages is claiming to have the fastest internet at sea, and the cruise line could very well have clinched the title. With the deployment of a combination of cutting-edge technologies, the cruise line announces total available speeds reaching up to 1.5 Gbps for its guests. 

This impressive figure stands well above the standard offerings, where standalone Starlink systems provide speeds of up to 220 Mbps. If theory and reality are accurate, Virgin Voyages’ connectivity is a significant stride towards achieving a fully connected ship experience, a goal that has remained somewhat elusive due to the limitations of older systems.

At-Sea Connectivity Revolutionized

Virgin Voyages has announced its partnership with SES to deploy a combination of connectivity systems, including SES Cruise mPOWERED and Starlink PRO across its fleet called ‘Pretty Fly for a Wi-Fi’. 

The technologies combine Medium and Low Earth Orbit satellite coverage and Geostationary satellites. According to SES and Virgin, guests will be able to enjoy unprecedented connectivity speeds of up to 1.5Gbps per ship.

Virgin Voyages is the first cruise operator to utilize a combination of these satellite systems, setting a new standard for at-sea internet connectivity.

“Our exclusively adult cruise experiences are underpinned by unmatched levels of connectivity at sea that mirror those available on land, so we are excited to partner with SES to offer our guests and crew this level of connectivity, which is unlike any other in the market,” said Steven Worling, Senior Director of Infrastructure & Security at Virgin Voyages.

Virgin Voyages Valiant Lady Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock

The combination of Geostationary, Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite systems plays an important role in the enhanced connectivity Virgin Voyages aims to offer. 

How Virgin’s New System Works

Geostationary satellites orbit the Earth at the same rate that the Earth rotates. This means they stay in the same position relative to the Earth’s surface. Modern geostationary satellite systems can use high-throughput satellites (HTS) that offer much greater bandwidth capacity.

MEO satellites orbit our planet at altitudes ranging from 2,000 to 35,786 kilometers, offering wider coverage areas and requiring fewer satellites for global coverage. Starlink’s LEO satellites, orbiting at altitudes between 160 to 2,000 kilometers, can provide lower latency and faster data transfer speeds. 

“For cruise operators, being able to constantly innovate and unlock new, superior guest experiences for passengers is essential to stay ahead of the curve,” said Simon Maher, Senior Vice President of Cruise at SES. 

Virgin Cruise Ships
Virgin Cruise Ships

Also Read: Bahamas Destination to Offer Free WiFi For Cruise Passengers

“State-of-the-art connectivity is at the heart of this. This is why we expanded our offering to create a fully integrated end-to-end service that uses multiple orbits, from Geostationary to Medium and Low Earth, to optimize bandwidth and meet the needs of both passengers and crew, wherever in the world they are sailing.”

Enhancing Guest and Crew Experiences

The SES Cruise mPOWERED and Starlink PRO service will have high-performance connectivity without data limits. However, whether or not Virgin will be offering the system free of charge has not been announced. 

Currently, the cruise line offers guests free use of social media, email, web browsing, and messaging. The use of a premium service, which costs 30 dollars per day, that supports streaming, is currently not included in the cruise fare. 

The introduction of Starlink Maritime in July 2022 revolutionized connectivity for guests at sea, catering to both leisure and work-related needs. While the standalone Starlink system already provides speeds of up to 220 Mbps, the integration with SES systems promises to deliver even higher speeds and enhanced reliability.

In today’s increasingly digital world, connectivity is paramount, especially for the younger guest demographics Virgin Voyages tends to attract. Offering a fully connected ship experience could be a decisive factor for passengers when booking a cruise.

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