(12:30 p.m. EDT) -- Recognizing cruise passenger frustration with painfully slow onboard Web access, Royal Caribbean is taking steps to dramatically boost the pace of its at-sea Internet services.
Starting summer 2013, those on the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas will be the first to experience "fiber optic-like" Internet speed when the line trials a service from new partner O3b Networks, a global satellite service provider. Fiber optics are used by TV cable companies like Verizon and others to offer super fast Internet.
In fact, O3b told Cruise Critic, speeds will reach up to four times faster than what geostationary satellites currently provide to other cruise ships, coming close to what you find on land in your home and office. They do this through the use of steerable satellite beams, which provide "unparalleled bandwidth," and reduce connectivity blackouts.
Pricing, which typically costs $.65 a minute (or less with an Internet minutes package) for the anemic at-sea offerings, has not yet been revealed.
(For a more in-depth look at the challenges with at-sea connectivity, check out our feature 9 Things You Need to Know About Internet at Sea.)
"Royal Caribbean is committed to delivering the most contemporary vacation to our guests, and that includes pushing ahead for onboard technological advances that offer the modern conveniences that guests enjoy on land," Adam M. Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, told O3b. "The agreement with O3b Networks enables us to provide our guests with unprecedented Internet service at aboard Oasis of the Seas and potentially in the future aboard other ships in our fleet."
Though Royal Caribbean is first rolling the technology out on Oasis, the partnership is a multi-year one. At press time, the cruise line and satellite company did not respond to questions about specific future plans for the system.
Now it's your turn: Would land-like Web speeds at sea make you more likely to plug-in during a cruise?
--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor