2018 is set to be a recordbreaking year for new cruise ships,
with just about every major cruise line due to launch a new ship
during the course of the next 12 months. The four leading cruise
companies - Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and
MSC Cruises - are all poised to unveil their own state-of-the-art
vessels, each attempting to offer the most innovative features at
sea. The cruise ship building boom will force ship owners to
think of new ways to outsmart their competitors, with many
turning to emerging technologies in an attempt to build a strong
and unique selling proposition (USP) that is both genuine and
Continuing pressure will also come from luxury onshore
destinations - a long-time rival of the cruise industry.
Previously, poor connectivity has created a clear distinction
between vessels and luxury resorts. For years the cruise industry
has been plagued by old technology, leading customers to view
high-speed internet as something limited to land-based
destinations only. However, in today's digitized world, travelers
have grown accustomed to always-on, ubiquitous connectivity, and
expect it on board.
According to a report by CLIA, the world's largest cruise
industry trade association, 27.2 million people are expected to
go on cruises in 2018, most of whom will expect to stay online
throughout their trip - even when in the remotest of locales.
Gone are the days where people went on cruises to 'get away from
it all'. The rise of social media from all age groups, widespread
transition of entertainment services to streaming sites and the
desire to be online and available at all times are just some of
the reasons why connectivity has been pushed up the list of
Enhancing the Customer Experience
More and more cruise lines are now investing in satellite
connectivity to get ahead of the game. At the end of last year,
Dream Cruises announced that it would be providing its guests
with ultra-fast, onboard broadband services, powered by SES
Networks. SES Networks' high-performance and reliable high-speed
connectivity enables passengers to stream movies, game online and
share real-time vacation travel videos and photos across social
media platforms - often at the same speed as they would onshore.
By tapping into SES Networks' innovative satellite technology,
Dream Cruises has transformed the customer experience onboard,
shrinking the connectivity gap between land- and sea-based
Dream Cruises is just one of several large cruise companies that
have turned to SES Networks to give it a competitive edge. In
September 2017, Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's
largest leisure travel company, announced MedallionNet, a
game-changing connectivity service powered by SES Networks.
MedallionNet will provide guests with easy-to-use-access Wi-Fi
that features exceptional speeds and bandwidth, pervasive
stateroom signal strength, and unprecedented service consistency.
This was no minor decision. Indeed, to generate the fastest
internet ever seen at sea requires constant communication between
Carnival's fleet and SES Networks' Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)
satellites before vessels can receive a strong and reliable
signal, no matter where they are voyaging.
Royal Caribbean, a long-term customer of SES Networks is also
delivering its Voom service over SES Networks' MEO satellites,
and is launching new ships in 2018.
SES Networks is setting a new standard of enhanced guest
connectivity experience, unmatched in terms of speed, performance
and reliability. Its MEO satellites enable the large cruise ship
market to receive internet access at 1 Gbps per vessel, the
current highest connectivity rate in the maritime market. The
benefits of this are self-evident. With so many brand-new cruise
ships launching this year, blazing-fast connectivity will allow
them to stand out from the rest of the competition, providing
cruise ship owners with the means to modernize the customer
experience with new satellite-enabled technologies.
But the benefits don't just stop there. SES Networks' fleet of
satellites also has the ability to provide industry-leading
facilities for captains and crew. As the industry continues to
rapidly expand, more captains and crew will be needed to man the
growing number of cruise ships. In 2016, the cruise ship industry
employed over one million staff, many of whom will be away from
home for weeks at a time. In the past, without internet access
ship crew were cut off from their life on land, and forced to
endure long periods of time without any contact from their loved
ones. Satellite-enabled connectivity is changing all of that. SES
Networks understands that cruise customers and crew want to keep
in touch with their family, friends and social networks - even
while island hopping in the Caribbean, for example - and delivers
the smart ship necessary to make that a reality.
Furthermore, as the cruise industry becomes more digitized, ship
crews are becoming increasingly reliant on digital technology to
fulfill their roles. Connectivity that delivers access to
cloud-based platforms makes training via e-learning,
computer-based training, videos and even virtual reality a
realistic possibility for the crew, supporting increased safety
and efficiency as well as crew retention and job satisfaction.
Being the only one in the industry to offer a multi-orbit (GEO
and MEO) in multiple bands (Ka-, Ku- and C-band), SES can offer
the flexibility the cruise ship owners need to maximize their
The 'New Normal'
2018 promises to be a year of innovation in the cruise ship
industry, with technology set to augment the cruise experience in
an entirely new way. At the very forefront of this will be
ultra-speed, highly reliable satellite-enabled connectivity.
Investing in cutting-edge broadband services will enable the
cruise ship industry to free itself from its old shackles, and
propel itself into a world of digitalization where land-based
speed connectivity is the norm, not the exception.
Gregory Martin is Vice President, Maritime Segment for SES
Networks. Gregory has over 20 years of experience in Information
Technology, with a focus on the unique connectivity needs for the
maritime and aero industries. Before joining SES Networks,
Gregory was Director of IT Operations for Royal Caribbean
International where he was instrumental in revolutionizing the
cruise industry, leveraging satellite connectivity for guest