First Look: SpaceX Starlink Speed Tests Aboard a Royal Caribbean Cruise

Image: Royal Caribbean Blog

Nicole Feist over at Royal Caribbean Blog, took a weekend trip on the one cruise ship currently trialing SpaceX Starlink Wi-Fi on the open sea. She recently shared speed tests from her time aboard Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas (via Reddit).

Royal Caribbean earlier this month announced its partnership with SpaceX to bring Starlink Wi-Fi to its cruise ships. Starlink has also been tapped for inflight Wi-Fi by Hawaiian Airlines and JSX. However, SpaceX is yet to receive FCC approval to operate Starlink aboard moving planes, boats, and more.

That hasn’t deterred Royal Caribbean from quietly testing Starlink on one of its cruise ships, though. After boarding Freedom of the Seas, Feist and her husband purchased two of Royal Caribbean’s in-cruise connectivity packages — the basic Voom Surf and the higher-end Voom Surf & Stream.

Running speed tests confirmed that Freedom of the Seas was indeed connected to Starlink. While still docked, the pair reported a download speed of 9.01 Mbps and upload speed of 20.34 Mbps on the Surf package, along with a download speed of 77.03 Mbps and upload speed of 15.72 Mbps on the Surf & Stream package.

Three hours after setting sail and in the middle of the ocean, the couple recorded a download speed of 2.85 Mbps and upload speed of 3.74 Mbps on the Surf package. The Surf & Stream package, meanwhile, offered 19.9 Mbps down and 5.42 Mbps up.

The tests at sea were conducted from inside one of Freedom’s staterooms, which are located behind several metal walls and aren’t the most conducive to Wi-Fi signals. Wi-Fi reception was markedly better in open areas, despite the sheer number of people on board who were likely crowding the connection. Zoom and FaceTime calls also worked flawlessly throughout the trip.

While the Surf & Stream speeds were higher, Feist and her husband said they were able to stream video on either package. Both packages delivered little to no lag or buffering time, with the Surf package only sometimes requiring a slight loading time.

Earlier in the month, the Dish Network petitioned the FCC to shut down Starlink use on moving vehicles until SpaceX acquires the appropriate license.

SpaceX also launched Starlink for RVs last month, but the service isn’t designed to work while in transit.