AQSC’s Sealink customized VSAT solution from Marlink provides high-quality Internet for seamless business operations, and supports its commitment to guest experience by enabling high-quality, free Wi-Fi onboard.
ABOUT THE CUSTOMER
American Queen Steamboat Company® (AQSC) is a leading provider of American river cruises, and operates three of the largest and most elegant riverboats in the world: the American Queen,® American Empress® and American Duchess.™
A strong commitment to excellence that aims to far exceed customer expectations means that guests are transported to an era of leisurely and romantic travel.
The welcome appearance of each vessel is richly complemented by a culture of gracious service, elegant decor, rousing entertainment and rewarding enrichment experiences. All of this is accentuated with a wealth of complimentary onboard amenities, including free onboard Wi-Fi for all guests.
Nowadays, leisure travelers demand convenience as expectations continue to grow for advanced broadband speeds and communications.
With each of its vessels sailing inland along very remote river routes, outside of conventional cellular networks and far away from typical ocean routes, AQSC had previously faced challenges in keeping its growing fleet of luxury vessels constantly connected with the high-quality service its customers demand.
With a strong premium reputation to protect, in order to meet its own operational needs and, vitally, the expectations of its guests, AQSC required flexible, reliable and cost-efficient solutions for wireless Internet, voice services, shore-to-ship communications, email and onboard calling.
First contracted in 2011, Marlink offered its Sealink™ VSAT to AQSC’s flagship vessel – the American Queen. Marlink’s customizable VSAT solution offers high-quality, always-on voice, Internet access and Local Area Network (LAN) communications at a fixed monthly cost; supporting communications for ship management, guests and crew; and third-party applications, such as banking and GSM operators.
After the installation, Sealink VSAT quickly proved valuable to AQSC’s guest experience and business efficiency, so in 2013, AQSC extended its contract, adding Sealink VSAT onboard its other two vessels, to improve Internet speeds throughout the fleet. “Staying connected to friends, family and business is a priority,” said AQSC President and COO Ted Sykes. “We recognize how important this is for our guests, and that is why we made an investment in this upgrade.”
The Sealink service is provided with several VLANs on board with different precedence levels and prioritization. With complimentary Wi-Fi for guests onboard as a key differentiator, AQSC opted to prioritize the guest/crew network and allocate a modest proportion of bandwidth for its daily admin and operational needs.
Marlink’s VSAT was fully integrated with a router onboard that provides ASQC’s existing 3G and 4G service. The joint connectivity allows for seamless fixed-line and Wi-Fi access at speeds of up to several Mbps throughout each vessel, wherever the vessel may be sailing.
The VSAT link was complemented and optimised further via Marlink’s @SEAoptimiser solution, designed to accelerate performance of web browsing and file transfers through a multitude of advanced protocol optimization, caching and compression techniques.
Additionally, a Content Filter was applied to secure the network against unwanted or inappropriate content. This maximises the Internet browsing experience for all passengers and crew, while those wishing to access an ultra-high-speed Internet, (e.g., for keeping up with business commitments while onboard) can choose to pay for dedicated higher-quality Internet access if needed.
- Stable, predictable VSAT: with guaranteed coverage even in the remotest locations.
- Cost predictability: the cost of each and every download is included in one fixed monthly fee, easing budget control and accounting.
- Flexibility: supporting seasonal business operations, AQSC’s agreement with Marlink permits flexible winter layup options, while a reduced lease period helps reduce costs during quieter months.
- Reduced IT costs: because software updates, IT security and network can all be managed remotely and instantly from shore.
- Happy guests and crew: benefiting from fast, quality Internet and email access, either via their own devices or from onboard Internet café areas.
“With guest satisfaction as a top priority, our onboard Wi-Fi is offered free of charge on all cruises. Our Sealink VSAT service from Marlink ensures excellent quality of service, guaranteeing reliable and secure broadband, while the customized network supports our business needs.”
John Waggoner, Chairman & CEO
American Queen Steamboat Company