Connectivity is the key to attracting more customers to cruise travel, Carnival Corporation Chief Experience and Innovation Officer John Padgett told Travel Agent and other media on a call to promote a new test of the cruise company’s new MedallionNet Wi-Fi connectivity platform. Also in attendance was Steve Collar, CEO of satellite Internet provider SES Networks.
“The cruise industry represents 2 percent of global hotel volume, so the potential to create incremental demand for cruises is extraordinary,” Padgett says. “Once we dispel the myth that connectivity is a liability to cruising, it will open up the cruise sector to all levels of demand, because we’re underpenetrated in basically every psychographic market.”
Today’s test took place on Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess, just off the Princess Cays private island destination. The ship is attempting to use MedallionNet to reach a bandwidth milestone of 1.5 gigabits per second, which Carnival Corp. says is the most ever delivered to a mobile platform. By comparison, the average download speed for a U.S. household was 64.17 megabits per second for downloads and 22.79 for uploads, according to a study by Internet speed test company Ookla cited by Carnival Corp.
“Today’s experience is about showing the apex that wil set the bar for our fleet and brands over time,” says Padgett. “If we can show that no matter what the application – business tools, uploading video to Facebook, livestreaming on Facebook Live – if all of those things can work seamlessly on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean, it takes connectivity out of the equation and enables people onboard to do exactly as they would at home.”
Plans call for MedallionNet to offer download speeds in excess of residential levels, often over 100 megabits per second, with upload speeds of over 60 megabits per second. In terms of pricing, Princess Cruises guests will be able to buy unlimited Internet access starting from $9.99 per day for one device, with multi-device plans offering additional savings. Going forward, other Carnival Corporation cruise brands will have the information on MedallionNet to use when forming their strategic plans, Padgett said.
Developed in partnership with satellite Internet provider SES Networks, MedallionNet was first announced last year with the aim of providing enhanced speed, bandwidth, signal strength and consistency of service through a combination of a satellite network, managed services, antenna and improved technology. The service is enabled by hardware and software advances associated with Carnival Corp.’s OCEAN Experience Platform, which will allow guests on Princess Cruises and other Carnival Corp. brands to perform a variety of activities, such as opening their stateroom door, tracking children or ordering drinks or entertainment, through an Ocean Medallion wearable device powered by a network of sensors embedded throughout ships and shoreside destinations.
In addition to the Regal Princess, Princess Cruises also recently added MedallionNet-enabled connectivity to Princess Cays as part of a larger renovation project that also added a number of new excursions to the private island destination.