Carnival Cruise Lines () unveiled a long-range broadband system Monday designed to jumpstart Internet connections on its 101 ships.
Passengers have had access to spotty satellite-based Internet for years, but Carnival says the new system will offer smoother connections and the ability to engage in bandwidth-intensive activities like streaming video.
Ramon Millan, chief information officer for the company, said Carnival faced a technical challenge similar to that of the airline industry, which has been gradually increasing the in-flight Wi-Fi speeds available to passengers.
“It’s a ship, and it’s moving in the middle of the ocean where there’s no infrastructure, so we have to be creative,” he said.
The new system works by toggling between port-based Wi-Fi, satellite Internet, and “long-range” Wi-Fi that uses land-based antennas to establish a connection when ships are within 40 miles of shore. The resulting speeds are 10 times faster than what the cruise line could previously offer.
Millan said Carnival developed the system in part to appeal to younger travelers “who have made connectivity and social media an everyday part of their lives.”
“Our guests are looking for different experiences when they cruise — some are interested in disconnecting, and others are interested in staying in touch with their world back home,” he said.
Millan said the new Internet is also great for cruise ship workers, who often videoconference with family and friends.
Colleen McDaniel, the managing editor of the online website Cruise Critic, called this a “major step” in keeping cruise ship passengers connected.
Previously, passengers who went on cruises felt a huge disconnect while onboard ships and tried to access the Internet.
“People have gotten so used to high-speed Internet on land,” she said. “This is a response to what people said they want.”
Reference: Huffington Post, CNN Money