More, better, faster, cheaper

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Cruise ship guests have high expectations, and to meet them requires friends in high places.

So now Royal Caribbean has a partner in the satellite business.

Recognizing that connectivity doesn’t take a vacation, two years ago the company invested in new technology developed by the communications startup O3b Networks. Its advances promised to provide high-speed Internet access using a constellation of low-orbit satellites, just the thing to erase a guest frustration shared across cruise lines – the high cost and low speed of onboard Internet service.

Guests can do things on Royal Caribbean ships that they can’t do on any other ship.

Today the O3b technology on Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas has increased available bandwidth on these ships from about 2 Mbps to over 600 Mbps. That’s like going from a dial-up Internet to a cable or DSL line in your home.

It’s good for business, and two simple statistics say why. Of Americans with incomes of more than $75,000, 99 percent use the Internet and 81 percent own a smartphone.

Even on vacation, they’ve come to expect technology to keep them connected with their lives back home and improve their travel experience. Royal Caribbean is making sure to meet — and exceed — those expectations by offering new technology services that are driving onboard revenue.

A guest uses the internet in the Promenade of Independence of the Seas. Luxury guests expect to remain connected while travelling, and Royal Caribbean’s investments in internet technology is providing high speed internet access at an affordable rate. (Royal Caribbean)
A guest uses the internet in the Promenade of Independence of the Seas. Luxury guests expect to remain connected while travelling, and Royal Caribbean’s investments in internet technology are providing high-speed internet access at an affordable rate. (Royal Caribbean)

In fact, the company is a recognized leader in implementing new tech, not just in the cruise business but across all industries. For three years running, it has been named on InformationWeek’s Elite 100 list.

“We’re an award-winning IT department that’s leading the charge,” says Bill Martin, chief information officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “Guests can do things on Royal Caribbean ships that they can’t do on any other ship.”

Not only do those low-orbit satellites provide high online speeds, the cost to users is more affordable.

“With the O3b technology,” Martin says, “Royal Caribbean will be able to offer more guests unlimited high-speed Internet for about $16 per day.”

That’s a stark contrast to most of the industry, which charges about 75 cents a minute for relatively sluggish Internet service. With such little bandwidth available onboard, cruise lines needed to charge a high price in order to dampen the demand. So not only does the O3b investment provide guests with the connectivity they want, the lower price point drives demand, in turn driving onboard revenue.