Cruising

Carnival and Princess Now Have Starlink Internet on All Ships

In July 2023, Carnival Corporation announced its plan to bring SpaceX’s high-speed Starlink internet to all the ships in their fleets, including Carnival, Holland America, and Princess. Ten months later, they’ve completed the transition, with all 90-plus ships now utilizing the technology. This news means now all guests and staff sailing on Carnival Corporation ships have access to the fastest internet at sea. 

Why does Starlink matter?

Internet connectivity on a cruise ship has become increasingly important over the past few years. Many guests need to, and expect, to be able to access work emails, phone loved ones, and check in while they’re on their cruise. Previously, ships used high-orbit satellites to provide basic internet, but it was notoriously slow and not able to keep up with the demands of the thousands of guests and staff on a ship. 

Starlink technology uses low-orbit satellites to provide fast, low-latency internet connections to users around the world. Because the satellites are in lower orbit, the trip between the receiver and the satellite is shorter and faster. Also, Starlink’s receivers are relatively compact, meaning more can be placed on a cruise ship, increasing overall capacity. 

Starlink has been a game-changer for the onboard connectivity experience our cruise lines deliver to their guests, and we’ve already seen a surge in guest satisfaction and positive feedback from the super-fast and reliable wi-fi service we provide onboard” – Josh Weinstein, CEO Carnival Corporation

Starlink is an improvement but not necessarily the end of internet problems

Switching to Starlink improves internet speed and reliability while at sea. I’ve sailed on four ships with Starlink now, and the difference between the old system and new system is day and night. The speed rivaled what I would see at home, and the latency (how long it takes to connect to a site) was vastly improved. 

But Starlink is only one part of the internet infrastructure on a ship. The ship also needs to have a variety of routers and repeaters across the vessel to provide a strong wi-fi signal to everyone so they can use the Starlink internet. New ships were built with wi-fi connectivity in mind, so they often have excellent coverage no matter where you are on the ship. Older ships, though, may have dead spots, and you may have to move around to get a strong enough connection. 

Carefully select which internet plan you want

While every internet plan on a Carnival, Princess, or Holland America ship will now use Starlink, the sites you’re allowed to go to will vary depending on which plan you buy. For example, Carnival Cruise line has a “Social” plan that only connects to social media, a “Value” plan that can access the internet but not video streaming, and a “Premium” plan that supports streaming video. Often, these plans don’t really limit the speed but block access to sites that are not allowed (for example, you can’t watch YouTube on the Value plan on Carnival).  

Carefully read through all the information when choosing your plan. Often, if you don’t need access to streaming video, the highest plan is usually not necessary. It should be noted that Carnival Corporation chooses to block wi-fi calling across all internet plans (iPhone-to-iPhone calls work, but true wi-fi calling to Android phones or landlines will not work). 

Learn more about the internet plans here

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Randy Young

Randy Young is the founder and editor-in-chief at Cruise Spotlight. He has been in marketing for 19 years and has been cruising for just as long. Over the years, he's worked with products like TVs, copiers, light bulbs, and EV chargers, but cruising has always been his passion. There's nothing Randy likes more than the first couple of hours on a ship, exploring every nook and cranny and seeing how it's different from everything else out there. He's known for providing detailed and analytical coverage of cruising to help cruisers get a comprehensive picture of a ship's offerings.