Genting Cruise Lines' Dream Cruises has completed deploying SES Networks’ VSAT connectivity on two of its fleet of Asian luxury cruise ships. A third will be retrofitted with satellite communications technology in Q3 2019.
SES’ Signature Cruise solution was installed on World Dream in 2017 and recently launched Explorer Dream to transform connectivity for passengers and crew. This VSAT technology will be introduced on Genting Dream in September this year.
Around 2,000 passengers on Explorer Dream will access internet services, social media, video applications and e-commerce solutions using shipboard wifi and vessel VSAT.
Dream Cruises president Thatcher Brown explained why cruise ships need fast broadband and high bandwidth for passenger use.
“Today’s cruise passengers demand excellent connectivity even when they are travelling on the high seas,” he said.
“We partnered with SES Networks because of its high-speed capability to deliver a terrestrial broadband-like internet experience in some of the most challenging of conditions.”
SES’ technology combines the low latency of its O3b medium earth orbit (MEO) satellite constellation with its geostationary constellation to ensure network resilience.
Passengers can use high-level broadband for social media, conversations with friends on applications such as WeChat, video streaming on YouKu and e-commerce on Taobao. Guests can share images and video in real-time and access online computer gaming over low-latency VSAT.
SES Networks’ vice president for global sales in cruise maritime services, Simon Maher, said connectivity is considered a vital aspect of cruise ship experiences.
“A key part of that adventure nowadays is the digital experience,” he said. “Passengers onboard Explorer Dream – along with World Dream and Genting Dream – will experience a new standard of enhanced guest connectivity.”
SES completed its O3b MEO constellation this year with the launch of four satellites on 4 April by Arianespace at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana.
Maritime Digitalisation & Communications witnessed the testing of these four satellites at Thales Alenia Space's fabrication facilities in Rome, Italy, in December 2018. SES has 20 satellites in this constellation to provide Ka-band VSAT to Dream Cruises, Carnival Corp, Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises ships.
Located almost 8,000 km away from the earth’s surface, the O3b constellation delivers fibre-equivalent connectivity with lower latency than geostationary satellites. To access these services, ships require Ka-band antennas and terminals. Cruise ships usually have dual- or tri-band antennas for Ka-band and communication in another band, C-band or Ku-band.
Explorer Dream will have homeports in Shanghai and Tianjin, in China, as well as Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand later this year.