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TravelIs the Voom internet on Royal Caribbean cruise ships really as fast...

Is the Voom internet on Royal Caribbean cruise ships really as fast as they say?

The “fastest internet at sea” isn’t as fast as you might hope.

As I found during a recent speed test, Royal Caribbean’s Voom internet service, which the line touts as the fastest internet service in the cruise industry, is still far slower than what you’re probably used to at home.

That said, the service is a lot faster than the internet service was on cruise ships just a few years ago. And it is, indeed, faster than what some of Royal Caribbean’s competitors offer.

I tested Royal Caribbean’s Voom internet service on board the line’s 5,518-passenger Symphony of the Seas in May as it sailed to the Bahamas from the New York City area. The seven-night voyage included calls at Port Canaveral, Florida, and two Bahamian destinations: Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island.

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Unveiled in 2018, Symphony of the Seas is one of the newest of Royal Caribbean’s 27 vessels, and — as I’ll explain below — that’s a factor in the internet speeds it’s able to offer.

Royal Caribean’s Voom internet service doesn’t operate at the same speed on every one of the line’s vessels. In general, Royal Caribbean’s newer ships have faster internet speeds.

How internet works on cruise ships

I’ll get to the results of my speed test on Symphony of the Seas in a moment. But first, a little primer on cruise ship internet.

If you haven’t cruised before, you may be surprised to learn that internet access on ships generally is not free, as it is at many resorts on land. Indeed, it’s often quite expensive — more than $25 a day on some lines. On a ship, you easily can spend more than $150 a week on internet services just to hook up one device. You’ll pay even more if you want to have multiple devices online simultaneously.

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Internet on cruise ships also is generally far slower than what you’ve experienced on land. Where I live in North Carolina, the local cable company’s least-expensive internet package promises download speeds of 300 Mbps for an introductory rate of $49.99 per month — and the company, Spectrum, actually delivers closer to 350 Mbps to our location. You can pay just $30 more a month and get a download speed of 1 Gbps, which is truly fast.

On a cruise ship, you’ll be lucky to get download speeds of 5 to 10 Mbps.

Before you rail against the cruise lines about the cost and speed of what they offer, know that they’re doing their best. They know you want fast internet on ships like you have at home, at an affordable price, and they are trying everything they can to make internet at sea faster and less expensive. On that front, they’ve made great strides in recent years.

But the bottom line is, delivering fast and inexpensive internet to people on ships that are on the move in the open ocean isn’t easy. Remember that there are no high-speed cable lines reaching out to moving cruise ships or line-of-sight transmitters that can reach them (except when they are close to ports). When you’re getting internet on a cruise ship, you’re getting it via a very expensive satellite system that’s designed to be compatible with a moving target like a cruise ship that may be traveling at 20 mph or more through bouncing waves.

When you think about it that way, it’s really quite astounding to get internet at all when at sea.

Royal Caribbean’s Voom service at a glance

Royal Caribbean now offers just one version of its Voom internet service on ships, which is a change from recent years. It’s called Surf + Stream, and it’s billed as being fast enough to stream movies and music and do many of the other things that require high-speed internet.

Royal Caribbean has discontinued its less expensive and less comprehensive Surf package. That service was designed for general internet browsing but didn’t support streaming.

What does Royal Caribbean’s Voom internet service cost?

Rates for Royal Caribbean’s Voom internet service seem to change often, but on my Symphony of the Seas sailing, the Surf + Stream service cost $29.99 per day.

That’s the rate based on buying the service for the entire cruise. You can’t get these rates if you just want internet access for a single day. My Symphony of the Seas sailing was seven nights in length, so the $29.99 per day cost of the faster service worked out to $209.93 for a single device for the length of the trip.

Note that if you wait a few days after boarding to buy the internet service, you just pay for the remaining days of the voyage. That’s a hack to keep your internet cost down, assuming you don’t mind being offline for a bit at the start of your cruise. Additionally, at certain status levels in Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program, you can get a discount on an internet package.

You can also often buy a single-day pass for Voom on board at a significantly higher per day cost than the multiday rate above. On my sailing, a single-day (24-hour) pass for Surf + Stream was $32.99.

The above rates apply to those buying internet service on board, but that’s not necessarily the best way to do it. One way to save considerably when buying internet service for a Royal Caribbean cruise is to buy it in advance of your sailing through the line’s website.

For my sailing, for instance, the Surf + Stream package cost just $23.99 when bought in advance — or $167.93 for the week. That’s a 20% discount, amounting to a $42 savings, compared to the onboard price.

Royal Caribbean offers cruisers discounts to book internet service in advance of sailings. ROYALCARIBBEAN.COM

All the pricing noted so far in this section is for buying internet for a single device. Royal Caribbean also sells packages that allow access to two, three or four devices.

With each device that you add, you pay a little less per device. A two-device package for my sailing cost $251.93 for the week when booked in advance. That worked out to about $18 per day, per device — a 25% discount to the single device package.

Pricing for two devices if bought in advance. ROYALCARIBBEAN.COM

You can purchase internet and other services for your sailing in advance at the Royal Caribbean website. You’ll have to create an account on the website and log in to reach the “cruise planner” section for your sailing to purchase such services.

How fast is Royal Caribbean’s Voom internet service?

I ran speed tests at different times throughout the sailing using speedtest.net on both my laptop and an iPhone. What I found was that the Surf + Stream service usually offered download speeds of around 9 Mbps. The upload speeds were typically around 4 Mbps, but they sometimes varied.

Here is a screenshot of a speed test I conducted May 25 at 10 a.m. when Symphony of the Seas was at sea off the coast of North Carolina.

A speed test of the Voom internet service on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas on May 24, 2024. SPEEDTEST.NET

Below is another speed test I did two days later when Symphony of the Seas was docked at Port Canaveral.

As you can see, both the download and upload speeds for the Voom internet on Symphony of the Seas at this point were very similar to the speeds of two days before.


At no time during the cruise did I find download speeds exceeding 10 Mbps, but at times, they dropped to as low as 4 Mbps.

Here is a different speed test I conducted when Symphony of the Seas was docked at Port Canaveral.


The slow speed seen above seemed to be a momentary glitch. When I followed up a minute later with another speed test, the download speed had bounced back to the 9 Mbps range.

Compared to internet speeds at resorts on land, the aforementioned speeds may seem excruciatingly slow. However, I found the Surf + Stream service on Symphony of the Seas did allow me to stream movies, as promised. I was able to continue my recent binge-watching of “Criminal Record” on Apple TV+ at bedtime on most nights.

Netflix says the minimum speed required to stream is 0.5 Mbps. Netflix recommends 3 Mbps for standard-definition streaming and 5 Mbps for high-definition streaming.

The internet speed on Symphony of the Seas was also significantly faster than the internet speeds on Royal Caribbean ships just a few years ago. When I did a similar test on Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas three years ago, the internet speeds, on average, were about 3 Mpbs — about a third as fast.

The big change since then is that Royal Caribbean has begun using Starlink satellites to provide internet to its vessels, which is a faster solution than the older satellite system the line previously used.

There were a few hiccups with the Voom service, however.

A couple of times during the cruise, I lost the internet connection completely for a spell. The speed also seemed to briefly slow down at times, as with the previously mentioned drop to 4.25 Mbps when we were docked in Port Canaveral.

Perhaps most seriously, I had a momentary bout of freezing while doing an important Microsoft Teams video interview with a top cruise line executive for another story. Luckily, he seemed to understand … and he should have. It was Jason Liberty, the CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, and this was one of his ships.

To be fair, all these glitches lasted just seconds in most cases. I never experienced a long spell of the internet being down.

The internet speeds on the ship also weren’t nearly as fast as the “six times faster” than internet on other lines point that Royal Caribbean touts on its website. With the rollout of Starlink across many cruise line fleets in the past year, there are plenty of other ships not operated by Royal Caribbean that have similarly fast internet.

In general, though, Voom’s streaming promise was met — particularly in the one area where I really needed it to count. I was able to participate in an important 45-minute staff meeting on Zoom while the ship was docked at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Factors affecting Voom speed

Royal Caribbean’s Voom service has traditionally been faster on the line’s newer vessels, which were wired from the beginning with higher-speed internet in mind. These include the line’s new Icon of the Seas and its Quantum Class and Oasis Class ships.

Voom service has also traditionally been faster on some older Royal Caribbean ships that have undergone “Royal Amplified” overhauls in dry dock, including upgrades to the internet systems.

The weather and location of a ship at any given time can affect Royal Caribbean’s Voom speed — because both factors can affect the connection to satellites.

Bottom line

If you’re new to cruising, you might find yourself shocked at the price of internet service on a Royal Caribbean ship. On a per day basis, Royal Caribbean’s Surf + Stream service is about 10 times more expensive than the typical cable internet service in the U.S. You also may be shocked by the slow speed of the service. At around 350 Mbps, my cable service at home in North Carolina is about 39 times faster than what I experienced on Symphony of the Seas. That’s quite a difference!

That said, for a cruise ship, the Voom service on Symphony of the Seas and other Royal Caribbean ships is actually quite fast. It also lives up to its billing as a service fast enough to let you watch streaming movies and shows at sea.

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