A 160-foot yacht can be more than just a pleasure craft.
“This is a business,” said Michael Crosby, captain of Carte Blanche, a privately owned, Florida-based yacht. “It’s a multi-million-dollar operation with a lot of moving parts.”
And that includes broadband, which Crosby says is an integral part of the operation for any yacht.
Onboard the Carte Blanche, passengers and crew stay connected with Viasat Internet provided through E Cubed Systems S.L. (e3 Group).
“The performance is superior to any other system I have seen in my experience as a captain — and it’s cost efficient,” said Crosby, who’s piloted the Carte Blanche for 10 years.
The Carte Blanche is designed to accommodate 12 guests and nine crew members. It includes six bedrooms, a hot tub, yacht tender boat, wakeboard boat, floating swimming pool, Jet Skis, and other recreational equipment.
According to the yacht’s website, the Carte Blanche also features luxury décor, with generous spaces and mahogany finishes throughout. There’s even an elevator connecting all the decks, as well as wheelchair-friendly access.
Because the yacht’s owners work while they’re aboard, quality, high-speed internet is crucial.
Until mid-2021, Carte Blanche used a different mobile provider, and while Crosby liked the system, he said the service was expensive and not exceptionally fast. Another system they tried was described by Crosby as “horrible.”
e3 Group, one of the leading global independent communications providers to super yachts, coordinated the Viasat service and installation in the summer of 2021.
“e3 Group suggested Viasat, and after researching it and multiple discussions with our management company, we decided to go with Viasat,” Crosby said. “I’d heard great things and also knew what Viasat has done in the aviation industry. Based on all that, Viasat was the way to go.”
The Carte Blanche was en route to a summer tour of Alaska at the time, so e3 Group sent engineers to meet the yacht and install the service in Monterrey, CA.
“It worked incredibly well in Alaska,” Crosby said. “The service is phenomenal and fast. And it works great here in the Bahamas, too. We are extremely happy with it.”
Viasat began offering maritime internet service with its ViaSat-2 and KA-SAT satellites, and e3 Group said it’s been a good solution for several of its super yacht clients.
“They need fast service, but it’s typically very, very expensive,” said Sharon Phillips, e3 Group’s U.S. sales manager. “So they are looking for alternative options. For many of them, Viasat is that option.
“We’re a big advocate of Viasat,” she added. “We like the product. It provides 4G speeds out at sea and has plenty of bandwidth to support clients such as Carte Blanche.”
For the crew: ‘As important as GPS’
The yacht sails from Florida to the Bahamas during the winter, and to Alaska during the summer. That means it’s at sea — far from any land-based internet service provider — about 100 days each year.
“The operations and management in the bridge is our primary concern,” Crosby said. “I can’t run this operation without the internet. It’s as important as a GPS in today’s society.”
“We have communications with vendors, management companies and crew members. We’re researching locations, weather, and trip planning. Our engineer needs it to be able to find parts and communicate with his vendors, and our chef needs it for meal planning. When our owner is on board, he’s working and needs internet access.”
The yacht’s owner also has three children who rely on the internet to do classwork while at sea.
Crew members also communicate with family while they’re aboard and working far from home.
“It’s a primary function of the day-to-day operations of the vessel and the business, and it’s as important as any other piece of electronics we have onboard,” Crosby said.
Yacht engineer Rahula Brown said any issues with Viasat service on Carte Blanche have been quickly addressed.
“It’s a good system,” Brown said. “From my experience with satellite internet, it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. And e3 Group’s support and engineers are very customer-service friendly.”
“They have our backs 100 percent,” agreed Crosby. “When there are problems and we reach out to e3 Group’s technical support, they are right there, and work diligently to solve them.”
Phillips said e3 Group looks forward to working with Viasat more regularly once ViaSat-3 goes into service. That relationship stands to expand the reach of its maritime service around the world.