A hot debate topic at cruise lines as Internet access at sea gets faster and cheaper
It is fact that new satellite Internet access technologies have made Internet access at sea much faster in recent years. For example, Royal Caribbean is experimenting with a new type of satellite service on its Oasis-class ships which puts the speed at a much higher data rate, at what is called a “scalable” cost – meaning the any added cost is only incurred when the data rate goes higher than usual, and at a commensurate amount.
In the past and still today, most cruise ship connections are comparable to an old-style dial-up modem – mostly because entire ships were generally limited to sharing one or two (at the most) satellite links to the outside world, unlike land systems where Intermit access is connected through wires, or “land lines.” It is actually the link between the ship and the satellite that causes the most “propagation” delay.
But a new company called O3B Systems has created a network of satellites much closer in orbit than the traditional satellites used by most cruise ships. The older satellites remain in geosynchronous orbit at a height of 35,786 kilometers, while the O3B Networks satellites are situated at 8063 kilometers. This reduces the transmission delays significantly.
Furthermore, O3B has an entire network of satellites in lower earth orbit, which means each ship is always close to one of their satellites, and that routing between satellites to move the Internet access along, as required, is also significantly reduced.
The First Free Unlimited Internet Access
Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ brand of all-inclusive luxury cruising is already one of the most “inclusive” cruise lines at sea. Their cruise fares include beverages, gratuities, shore tours, hotel stays and more. That makes Regent one of the most expensive cruise lines at sea, as well.
But now Regent is expanding its included offerings to include unlimited internet access. For all Regent Seven Seas Cruises voyages setting sail after January 1, 2015, guests booked in Master, Grand, Seven Seas, Horizon, Mariner, Navigator and Voyager suites will receive unlimited complimentary internet access. The free internet access is available for the duration of the cruise and is accessible in all public spaces and suites via the ship-wide Wi-Fi system.
“By introducing the industry’s only unlimited complimentary internet program onboard our ships, we continue to fulfill our guest promise to deliver the most inclusive experience available, at sea or on land,” shared Kunal S. Kamlani, president of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “The expansion of our free internet program, coupled with widespread enhancements made to the ships during recent dry docks, strengthens the luxury proposition found on Regent Seven Seas Cruises and better prepares us for the arrival of Seven Seas Explorer, which will be the most luxurious ship ever built.”
The addition of free unlimited internet access for upper suites coincides with the completion of a multimillion-dollar upgrade to internet systems on all Regent Seven Seas Cruises ships. The upgrades entail a doubling of available bandwidth to increase internet speed and reliability, and an expansion of the Wi-Fi system to provide connectivity throughout the entire ship, including all public spaces, outdoor decks and suites.
While top tier suites will enjoy unlimited internet access, guests booked in Penthouse and Concierge suites will continue to receive complimentary internet time based on cruise length. For example, guests sailing on a seven-night voyage receive 200-minutes free and the amount of gratis internet time extends to 500-minutes for voyages over 16-nights. Members of the Regent Seven Seas Cruises loyalty program, Seven Seas Society, who achieved gold status or higher will continue to receive unlimited complimentary internet access onboard, regardless of suite selection.
The expansion of the unlimited internet program adds to the most comprehensive list of included amenities in the vacation industry, including round-trip air, a pre-cruise hotel night stay, fine wine and spirits, unlimited shore excursions in every port, specialty dining, ground transfers and gratuities.
About Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the world’s most inclusive luxury cruise line. The line’s fares include all-suite accommodations, round-trip air, highly personalized service, acclaimed cuisine, fine wines and spirits, sightseeing excursions in every port, all gratuities, and a pre-cruise luxury hotel package and complimentary Wi-Fi for those guests staying in concierge and higher suites. Three award-winning, all-suite vessels, Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner, and Seven Seas Voyager, are among the most spacious at sea and visit more than 250 destinations around the globe. The line is currently building the 750-guest Seven Seas Explorer, which will be delivered in summer of 2016.