Royal Caribbean partners with SpaceX for faster internet

The Wonder of the Seas cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean International.

Cruise giant Royal Caribbean says it will tie up with Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX, using its Starlink system to offer faster internet at sea.

Guests typically have to pay for internet on cruise ships but connection has historically been poor.

The partnership will “enable more high-bandwidth activities like video streaming”, says Jason Liberty the chief executive of Royal Caribbean.

Starlink draws on its large network of satellites that orbit the Earth.

Mr Liberty said in a statement on Tuesday that the installation of Starlink on Royal Caribbean ships will start immediately and be completed by March 2023.

The partnership marks “the biggest public deployment of Starlink’s high-speed internet in the travel industry so far,” he added.

“This technology will provide game-changing internet connectivity onboard our ships, enhancing the cruise experience for guests and crew alike,” Mr Liberty said.

Starlink, which is run by SpaceX, is designed to provide high-speed internet to people who live in remote areas.

It relies on thousands of its satellites that have been placed in a low-level orbit around the Earth. This makes connection speeds between the satellites and the ground as fast as possible.

Earlier this year, Mr Musk made Starlink available in Ukraine, after Russian forces invaded and closed down Ukrainian internet services and tried to block social media. The network has also been used by Ukrainians to communicate on the battlefield.

The global cruise industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, which crippled the tourism industry across the world.

However, companies like Royal Caribbean, which operates the world’s second-largest fleet of cruise ships, saw an improvement in earnings when Covid-19 restrictions eased this year.

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