Organizedhome, I am the "other half" of travel well. I've kept quiet until I look at some technical specs. We are on the 2021 Regent Word Cruise as a post retirement present. I am a EE. Travel Well's dad was EE professor. I work in the communication industry (Until Jan 2021) I have several web sites and I intend to post photos and my trip diary on these web sites. (A link on Cruise Critic will be provided) I am a photographer and book author. I have very little personal experience with the things I discuss but tons of industry experience.
Apple iCloud.... : Is constantly syncing things. Travel Well and I have 2 apple computers, 2 iPads, 2 iPhones and some other random devices. We had a vacation cabin with 3 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. We could not watch a movie and we called our local technician at the cable company and he looked at our traffic profile. The question he asked was "Do you have Apple?" With all the iCloud syncing going on, we were tapping out the 1 Mbps return. (Most video is delivered via HTTP which is based on TCP/IP which requires acknowledging the forward data packets. Typical ratio is 12:1.) So if the reverse pipe is filled then no joy. You get terrible service down stream. (to your computer) Most Internet traffic is TCP/IP. Ask your partner. They will know this.
At home, We have 1 Gbps bi-directional. Which is fine as long as we don't go off the AT&T network. BUT, the Internet has what is called a head wind. Today this is generally acknowledged as 70 Mbps. So you may connect at a higher rate but if you go off your providers part of the Internet.... you slow down.
When you are on the "ship", your connection to the rest of the world (ROW) is limited to Satellite. There are basically 3 Satellite providers today, Inmarsat, GlobalStar and Irridum. To be honest I don't know much about GlobalStar. Immarsat uses geosynchronous Satellites (They orbit the earth every 24 hours so they remain in place above a single spot on the earth) Irridium uses lower earth satellites and wiz around faster than the earth turns. So there are more (66) and you switch off like using a cell phone on the move. Irridium works every where including the poles. Immarsat works most of the places we will be. You might have a problem south of New Zealand or in a fiord. (I had problems with Internet connection on a Crystal Cruise in Norway when in a Fiord.) Satellites are line of site. If you can not "see" the satellite as it sites above the Equator, you have no data.
I don't know who Regent uses. I was unable to find the answer with a quick Google search. My guess, is that they have a higher bandwidth connection than your average individual. Part of this is reserved for them to run the ship, get news, updates. The rest is shared between all the people on board. And the good news is that this segment is 2x faster than before. (OK, Not enough but better.)
In port, you can connect to land based providers like a cellphone company. Prices vary. And there are land based Internet cafes. Your milage may vary.
We did a project in Japan and needed to ship hours of video back to Atlanta. We found it faster to record the data on a disk and ship it via FedEx back.
The problem with Apple iCloud is that it really eats up the reverse path which is typically smaller to begin with. Therefore it earned a spot on the infamous Black list. (I was unable to find a list of these IP addresses during a quick Google search) Video conferencing is a data hog. So it is on the blacklist. Everyone the company is aware of. I won't mention the more obscure apps.. In case I need one. Ha!. When you pay the extra $10, you get an exemption from what appears to be part of the blacklist. But you don't get faster data or more data. You get a license to fish. You are not guaranteed to catch anything. 😉
If you use a VPN, you hide your data and the IP address you are connecting too. So you avoid the blacklist. Shhhh. Regent has no counter measures to this. China is trying to track VPNs and regularly shuts them down. So you may have to dodge over the 4.5 months on the cruise. This is what Chinese users do every day. We call the game "Whack a mole". Regent has no real defense against VPNs but your devices will clog up the Internet for everyone so please be kind. I'd take an external disk and back up locally. The extra work a VPN does to encrypt your data will slow down the throughput and add latency.
Let's talk Satellites and the infamous lately issues. My Crystal Cruise experience tells me that they are using GeoSynchronous Satellites. (There are 3 in high earth orbit) the cruise ship will switch as it travels around the globe. There are (working from memory here...) 22k miles from earth. for the signal to travel to the satellite and back to an earth station takes at least 250 mSec. (Limitation of the speed of light) add some time for the equipment to process and ... You have high latency. Remember most traffic is TCP/IP and it needs the "ack" (Acknowledgement) So stock traders don't use satellites today. They use fiber optics but these are not available on a cruise line. There are also Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) and Low Earth Orbit(LEO). I suspect that Irridium is MEO. The closer you are to the earth, the lower the latency. Physics.
If you get your own Satellite phone, you have free incoming calls and pretty reasonable text costs. However data is limited to 2400 baud. (Remember phone modems?) This is true for both Irridium and ImmarSat. The web is telling me ImmarSat is cheaper but... your milage may vary. Check it out. And yes there is a charge for data. But, there is no Blacklist.
What am I going to do? Well, this is the first I've heard of an Apple iCloud blacklist. This is understandable but it ... ahh, unfortunate. I was bringing my hard drive back up.. now I will depend on it. I knew about Video conferencing blacklist. and was not tempted to pay the $10 / day. My kids (and grandkids will just need to remember what I look like.)
I will buy a Sat phone. both for the cruise and for later. (Just this morning we were hiking in the N. Georgia Mountains and had no cell coverage. ) (5G will not help. to get more speeds they need more transceivers which will be found mainly in cities.)
There are new Internet options on the horizon. Will they be there for 2021? I have no clue. SpaceX just launched 60 LEO satellites this week. We don't know yet if they work They will need a thousand or more to make LEO work. There are 3 other companies racing to do similar things. The LEO satellites may need a few MEO satellites to provide connectivity and coordination. But with LEO your latency will be very low. Maybe better than TransOceanic Fiber. So, I'm waiting until next year to make hard decisions. Maybe they need a tester?
For now. VPN gets you around the blacklist but sucks bandwidth from your fellow passengers. So please limit it. Your Web authoring and updating should be fairly low bandwidth as long as you don't upload big photos. I'm planning to shrink the photo files I upload. It makes it faster for my readers anyway. And take along extra hard drives and back up locally for now. The issue of bandwidth may be solved (for a price) in 20210 but for now, Plan to work in a low bandwidth mode.
Would love to meet and exchange more information in the fullness of time.
Travel Along Well.