SpaceX's Starlink internet will soon be available aboard cruise ships and airplanes

Elon Musk said deploying Starlink at sea 'will be relatively easy.'
Chris Young
A cruise ship (left) and a SpaceX Falcon 9 at launch (right).1,2

SpaceX's Starlink internet is living up to its billing as a service that will be available almost anywhere on Earth, including in the air and out at sea.

That's because the satellite internet service may soon be available for passengers aboard Royal Caribbean Group cruise ships, according to a blog post from the company.

Starlink for seagoers

The Royal Caribbean Group submitted a filing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last Friday, June 10, saying it wanted to offer Starlink internet for passengers aboard its cruise ships.

It is the first cruise ship company to file a request with the FCC regarding Starlink internet, though it's not the first firm to seek approval to allow passengers to use the service. Hawaiian Airlines recently filed a similar request, and it hopes to provide Starlink internet as part of its in-flight experience

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has previously stated that on-the-move Starlink internet is possible, tweeting that "Starlink does work on vehicles in motion, including planes, but not yet reliably." SpaceX also says added resources are needed for users who constantly change locations — which is why they charge an additional $25 per month for Starlink RV users.

In the letter to the FCC, John Maya, vice president of operational excellence at Royal Caribbean Group, encouraged the FCC to promptly approve SpaceX's own request to operate Starlink on moving vehicles, including ships, aircraft, and trucks.

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"We believe we have identified a true next-generation solution for our vessels," Maya said, adding that "our work with SpaceX, the first of its kind in the cruise industry, will set the standard for other cruise operators and will mean a leap in terms of guest experience and business operations while at sea."

Starlink out at sea 'will be relatively easy'

The Royal Caribbean Group has a total of 24 ships in its fleet, though it didn't specify in its filing if it wants to bring the service to its entire fleet or if it wants to test it out on a smaller number of vessels first, before deploying it as a fleet-wide service. We also don't know if the cruise ship group will charge an extra fee for the internet service, though it's worth noting that Hawaiian Airlines confirmed it will provide Starlink at no added cost.

Musk addressed the question of Starlink on ships back in 2020, saying he was confident that bringing internet to the seas would be fairly straightforward due to the lack of users in the world's oceans. When one Twitter user asked if his kids would be able to connect to the service out at sea so they could perform school work while on holiday, Musk replied saying, "yeah, that will be relatively easy, as so few users out in the ocean."

SpaceX has already tested Starlink at sea, in fact. The company filed a request to the FCC in 2020 to test its internet service aboard up to 10 sea vessels, including two of its autonomous droneships used as landing vessels for its Falcon 9 launch vehicles.

In a recent interview with IE, off-grid Starlink user Steve Birch said the service Starlink provides is brilliant, but it's also "a double-edged sword," as he's now "always reachable." We wonder if all cruise ship passengers will appreciate the increased connectivity or if some will miss the way cruising into the sea used to provide a total momentary escape from life on land.

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