Cruising into the era of remote working

Shipowners must improve their onboard connectivity solutions to accommodate guests' growing demands

Cruising into the era of remote working


Cruise companies will have to improve their connectivity to match remote working trends, says Greg Martin (pictured)

By Greg Martin |

Prior to 2020, one of the main focuses for SES’s cruise customers was to provide passengers with an excellent holiday experience while enabling them to remain connected to their family and friends back home. The other priority was to ensure crew could stay in contact with loved ones while working at sea for months and taking care of cruise passengers.

The pandemic sparked change across various industries and had a major impact on all companies in the global travel sector, including the cruise industry. One of the many adjustments to daily life that still remains today is the ‘work-from-home/anywhere’ culture. Remote working is now a reality for employees worldwide as many companies have established digital nomad policies, for example accommodation provider Airbnb is allowing employees to work temporarily in more than 170 countries. Meanwhile, Spain introduced a new digital nomad visa in February 2023 to allow non-European Union citizens to live and work in the country for up to a year.

With an estimated 35 million digital nomads worldwide, this trend has inspired innovation across many industries, including cruise. Several operators are launching cruises that specifically cater to the digital nomad market. As cruise passengers, digital nomads will be working remotely, as well as enjoying the onboard amenities and excellent customer experience offered by the cruise industry as part of their vacation packages.

However, digital nomads can only work from anywhere if they have constant access to strong and reliable internet connectivity, which can be challenging to deliver to a cruise ship sailing at sea. The only way ship operators can provide this high-speed connectivity to those working remotely while on a cruise is to use satellite services, such as O3b mPOWER, SES’s second-generation medium earth orbit (MEO) system. 

O3b mPOWER can provide industry-leading throughput, predictable low latency, high availability and unrivalled flexibility. All these features are critical for digital nomads who may be taking video calls and need minimal lag and interruptions to connectivity, while also being able to upload heavy data and access documents in the cloud. The high throughput provided by O3b mPOWER ensures cruise operators will be able to easily accommodate their customers’ skyrocketing demand for increased connectivity, whether it is coming from digital nomads or modern passengers who wish to remain connected while at sea.

Capacity and coverage can be scaled up as and when needed, providing shipowners with the flexibility to increase bandwidth and the optimal upload and download speeds to keep pace with their passengers’ evolving needs. SES is also the industry’s only multi-orbit player, which means that it can switch between its satellites in MEO and geostationary Earth orbit to deliver network resiliency and ironclad connectivity services, no matter where the cruise ship is located.

As cruise operators look to continually innovate and provide an enhanced and personalised cruise experience for their passengers, high-quality connectivity at sea will plays an integral role. In the era of the digital nomad, this takes on new importance to enable passengers to work at sea as they would on land, and it’s exciting to see how connectivity needs will continue to transform in the cruise market over the next decade.

Greg Martin is vice president of maritime and cruise products at SES

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