If there is one complaint about cruises that seems universal across passengers, it’s that staying connected can be slow and unreliable. That’s understandable given that ships travel all over the world, hundreds of miles from the nearest land, in all types of weather, and with literally thousands of people all trying to use the same connection at once.
Already we’ve seen cruise lines upgrade fleets using SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet. And while this has been promised to be faster, personally we have yet to see much difference in speeds or reliability with the ships that we’ve sailed.
Now Carnival might have found a solution.
The cruise line announced that its newest ship — Carnival Jubilee — will be the first in the fleet and the first in North America to provide 5G mobile service.
“Carnival Jubilee will be the fleet’s most-connected ship – literally raising the connectivity bar for our guests and serving as another big step in a period of vigorous advancement of our onboard connectivity,” said Luis Terife, vice president of onboard guest commerce at Carnival Cruise Line.
For those that aren’t familiar, 5G is the current gold standard when it comes to fast mobile service. It offers speeds above 100 Mbps in some studies, with even faster speeds in ideal conditions. While that may not mean much to you, just know that typical cruise ship internet connection speeds are in the 3-5 Mbps range.
Carnival Jubilee arrives in December and will sail from Galveston. Carnival says the new service will be available starting in early 2024.
“After the initial launch on Carnival Jubilee, the cruise line plans to enable other ships across its fleet with 5G capabilities,” a press release added.
Now accessing the service will be a little different. Typically cruise passengers are connected to data and internet via wi-fi. Carnival’s 5G program is run through the ship’s cellular provider, Wireless Maritime Service (WMS), instead. In other words, you’ll now have multiple options for connecting.
The cruise line says that the 5G will be accessed through service plans for cruise ships from passengers’ carriers. For example, AT&T offers two cruise plans, including a $100 plan that provides unlimited talk/text and one gigabyte of data.
So you will be able to access Carnival’s wi-fi service as normal or access 5G through the ship’s cellular plan, which will be charged via your phone carrier.
Carnival has also recently made the move to provide Starlink access across its fleet as part of its plan to give passengers more options to connect reliably while on their cruise.