Ultimate Guide for WiFi on Cruise Ships
Cruising can be a great holiday option. During the summer, millions of people have a cruise vacation. But then you may ask:
Is there WiFi on cruise ships?
The answer is YES!
Getting WiFi on a cruise is possible.
One of the great pleasure on cruising is disconnecting from all the bustles and hustles of everyday lives. You can also turn off an iPhone and a laptop while you are on holiday.
But then staying connected is still important. Even in the middle of the sea, you need an internet connection. The internet access is inevitable in our lives.
You may pay more than you thought for emails, Facebook and Skype in your previous cruise. The problem is that getting WiFi on cruise ships is costly. This time, you are looking for something better.
If so, you are in the right place.
In this article, you will find detailed information on how to get the best service on WiFi.
Different cruise lines have different services. We will introduce you leading cruise lines which offer innovative WiFi service at sea.
We will also explain how WiFi works at sea as easy as possible. You need to set up your iPhone.
Prepare your cruise in advance and maximise your vacation! This article will help you save money and prepare a WiFi connection on cruise ships ‘before you leave home’.
Is there WiFi on cruise ships?
In modern cruise ships, internet access is available through WiFi. When you are in the middle of the sea, even hundreds of miles away from the shore, you can have an internet connection on a cruise ship.
The cruise lines provide internet service through WiFi onboard. You can stay connected with your personal computer, iPhone, iPad and smartphone at the internet point. Let your family and friends know how you are and how things are going on.
The internet experience onboard is poor in comparison to land use. WiFi on a cruise is also slow, and yet it is high priced.
It usually costs about less than $1.00 USD per minute if you select a minute to pay for internet onboard. It is fairly expensive. This is why you need to know about the cruise lines’ WiFi packages. You can reduce the cost as low as $0.20 per minute.
Connecting the Internet with WiFi at Sea
Getting WiFi for internet access is costly at sea. This is because there is no competition in the industry. The situation now is much improved than before. The internet connection was unreliable and was costly.
Good news is that some cruise lines are changing the scenery. What they have changed are:
- Implementing the system for high-speed service.
- The price is also getting more affordable.
Many cruise ships now have their own brand apps. Family cruisers and couples can talk to each other on the ship. Or have you got new friends on the ship? That’s great. High-bandwidth WiFi makes communication at sea much easier than before.
First, let’s find out the WiFi service the cruise lines offers. You can compare the prices and pick up the best for you. Then set up your iPhone before you set sail.
1. Wifi on cruise ships at Carnival
Carnival Cruise’s internet pricing is currently one of the best in the industry. Carnival currently has the world’s largest maritime satellite network. All Carnival Cruise fleets can provide internet service through satellite connection.
Carnival offers 3 WiFi plans (source).
The Social Plan
To access to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Not for email, Skype or other internet pages to explore.
Fees: $8 per day
The Value Plan
Includes full website and email access.
Fees: $16 per day
The Premium Plan
Fastest internet access. Skype and music streaming are available.
Fees: $25 per day
- If you only use WiFi for social media and do not need to check email and websites, the Social Plan is the best.
- If you need to explore the websites and email, you need the Value Plan. The Premium Plan is 3 times faster than the Social Plan and the Value Plan.
- If you purchase the WiFi plan Carnival’s online in advance, you can save 20% off. You may receive this discount if you purchase the package on the embarkation day. Check it out with your cruise line.
*Prices are subject to change at any time.
2. WiFi on cruise ships at Disney
Disney Cruise Line offers a WiFi service called Connect@Sea. You pay for the megabytes you use. Disney does not have a service for an unlimited per day WiFi usage.
Disney offers 3 WiFi plans. Disney WiFi costs:
Pay as You Go
You can set a spending limit to prevent overspending or prevent to turn off the WiFi after the usage.
Fees: $0.25 per minutes
Disney’s Connect@Sea packages can be a little tricky. The WiFi service is based on megabytes you use. You might not know how long you can be connected for 100 MB.
I tried a data usage calculator. It says you can explore website browsing for 4 hours with 100 MB (source).
Disney gives you 50MB for free on the first night of the cruise as a trial. So sign up for it ‘before you leave home’.
Why before you leave home?
There are two important points you need to keep in mind:
- You need to add Disney’s app for the WiFi connection on the ship. While you set up the app, you use the megabytes you purchased or free service for it. While you enjoy websites or checking out your emails, you are wasting megabytes you bought for setting up. So do the set up not on the ship but at home.
- 50MB will end less than 10 minutes if you did not set up your iPhone properly in advance. Work on it while you have WiFi at home. I will also show you how to do it little later in this article.
*Prices are subject to change at any time.
WiFi Pricing summary
- Carnival – The Value Plan – $16 per day
- Royal Caribbean – Voom Surf – $12.99 per device and per day. Find out everything about Royal Caribbean internet package. See whether it may change your cruise vacation.
- Disney – Medium Package 100 MB for $19
Other cruise lines on WiFi service pricing (source)
- WiFi on Princess Cruise – $99 for 240 minutes
- WiFi on Norwegian Cruise Line – $100 for 250 minutes
- WiFi on Celebrity Cruise – $99 for 208 minutes
Cruise Ship WiFi Hack
Why is Internet Access on Cruise Ships so Expensive?
The internet access service is fairly expensive on board. The cruise lines are getting aware of the needs of internet access. High-speed internet is the key to attract millennials cruisers.
If cruise lines want to attract the millennials, it is inevitable to implement high-speed internet system on the ships.
Is There Free WiFi on Cruise Ships?
Luxury cruise lines offer WiFi service for free. Not all the luxury cruise lines but Regent Seven Seas and Crystal do provide. Viking is currently receiving a lot of consumer attention. Their service is innovative. Unlimited free WiFi service cannot be found in any mainstream and hi-end cruise lines.
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises offer a free unlimited WiFi that will be accessible anywhere onboard (source).
- Crystal Cruises provide complimentary WiFi service, but Skype is not available (source).
- Viking Cruises offers unlimited WiFi usage with free for charge. (source)
- Norwegian Cruise Line is a mainstream cruise line and offers a 60 minutes free wifi on cruise ships. At Norwegian, every new booking will receive a 60-minute data package per person.
How to get free WiFi on a Cruise Ship
1. Get on a port and find a WiFi signal
When the ship docks in the port. You can usually get a free WiFi land signal. Find crews. At the port lounge, they are using the cruise port’s free WiFi network. It is much much faster than WiFi on the ship!
It takes some time to make a queue for disembarkation and get out the ship. If you stay on the ship, you can still try the signal at your cabin. If you can’t, go to an open deck and find a WiFi signal at the ship’s port side.
Cruise Insider Tips: Cruise staffs know all the free WiFi hot spots on the ship as well as at the ports.
Have you seen that they are getting out of the ship with an iPhone or a laptop? This is for free WiFi at ports. You can ask them nicely. They’ll be more than happiest to share all the good hotspots.
2. Enjoy a Drink Whilst You Check Emails
Many cafes and bars in ports offer free WiFi. The connection is much faster than on the ship. Try your coffee, beer or some cocktail while you enjoy the landscape around. You can also check out Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter and let your loved ones how your cruise is going on.
3. Check out Loyalty Programs
Cruise lines have loyalty programmes. Their returning guests can receive a benefit. Free Wifi can be one of them. Check out what benefit you can have. Many people do not realise what they are actually entitled to receive the service.
Wifi Tips and Tricks at Sea
Setting up your phone is important before you use the WiFi service at sea. Make sure that your devices are powered up and prepared before leave home.
Preparing Before You Leave Home
1. Tell your phone company
Never go abroad without telling your phone company. It prevents unexpected massive roaming charges. You do not need to receive a security message. They might suspect that your phone was stolen. Let them know which countries you are visiting. You might find a good service while you travel.
2. Pre-Purchase a WiFi Package
The WiFi packages are now available to pre-purchase online before you leave home.
- You can get a 15 to 20 % discount.
- You can set up your cruise line’s app which enables you to access the internet through WiFi.
- You do not need to consume megabyte you paid for setting up the app on the ship. Set up while you have a free WiFi connection or at home.
Find out more details on the Royal Caribbean Internet Packages VOOM.
If you buy the internet plan before your cruise, be aware of risks.
- The cruise ships’ WiFi is a satellite rather than cellular service for the connection. When it is bad weather, the internet connection becomes weak. Or I had no signal when the ship was facing rough sea as well as a typhoon in Australia and in Asia.
- The WiFi might get weak or no signal at your cabin. The router is normally situated on the internet desk near the reception. If you need to work at your cabin with the internet, it is good to book a cabin nearby and which I do.
Free WiFi is everywhere at ports or in town. One thing I would remind you is:
It is very important not to access your bank account or other important personal information with free WiFi.
I use a VPN to protect personal information and from malware while I travel. It is also good to receive a discount when I book a flight ticket.
Carnival clearly mentions that VPN connections are not supported on the ship. You may need to talk to your company’s IT department and check out the setting at sea.
4. Set Up Apps
You can download your ship’s apps into your devices to connect the WiFi on the ship. You need to set this up before you leave home or while you still have free WiFi access. So that you can save money and time. This pre-setting up prevents from consuming minutes or megabyte data you paid.
5. Set Up your phone
First, verify the connection settings of your iPhone, iPad or smartphone to improve your onboard WiFi experience.
Second, automatic updates of your PC, iPad or iPhone will consume a lot of data. You need to set them up for a cruise. The browsing speed gets faster. Hence the price for the connection decreases.
6. Prevent from automatically uploading on iPhone and Mac
You can disable the certain setting on your iPhone. You can save money. If you do not work on the setting properly, you will finish 50 MB within less than 10 minutes.
Once you get off the ship, turn them back as they were before. But please keep antivirus app on if you have.
- Software Updates (Software Update > Edit > Preferences > Advanced > Uncheck Auto Update)
- My Photo Stream (Settings > Photo & Camera)
- iTunes Disable auto updates (Settings > iTunes & App Store)
- Location Services (Settings > Privacy)
- iCloud Backup (Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup)
Important: if you are using iCloud Backup, remind you to turn it back after you get off the ship. Otherwise, you would lose a lot of pictures.
- Mac Book Automatically check for Updates (System Preferences > App Store > Uncheck Automatically check for Updates)
What to Do with WiFi on Cruise Ships
You can organise and set up to improve the internet experience on board. There are some tips for it.
1. Go into ‘Airplane’ mode
As soon as you get on the ship, put your phone into ‘Airplane’ mode. This will assure that you will not get roaming charges from your mobile career.
No worries. You can use WiFi with Aeroplane mode. But when you use cellular service, you need to turn off Aeroplane mode.
2. Find the best time for the connection
Satellite internet speed is different depending on the time of the day.
It is much faster from 5 am to 8 am as well as after midnight. I also found the dinner time from 7 to 9 pm is fast. Daytime is always a peak time. Internet loading time is very slow.
3. Set up your phone and save money
You may not aware but there are background applications on your devices. Turn off the background app if you have on a phone. In doing so, you keep fast loading speed. Otherwise 50 MB you get for free from the cruise line, for example, will be finished within about 5 minutes. But keep antivirus app though if you have.
- Prevents Background apps from refreshing it automatically
Background App Refresh (Settings > General > Background App Refresh)
4. Remember to turn off WiFi and log out
You have decided which WiFi plan you are going to use. Downloaded the cruise line’s apps and set up your phone. You have also set up your phone properly. You are ready to have a nice WiFi experience at sea and can save money.
But if you forget to turn off WiFi on the ship. You will all lose the money paid for it overnight. So.. it is very important to remember to log out of your internet session each time.
Remember to turn off WiFi and log out whenever you finished an internet session.
If you forget to do these two things, ‘turn off’ and ‘log out’, even if you turn off the WiFi signal, you lose your minutes. To be honest with you… I made that mistake once before. So, now you do not need to do the same.
5. Save minutes and megabytes
If you selected Pay as you Go or minutes pay, each minute is costing. It is quite expensive. Find ways to save minutes as follow.
- Turn on WiFi and Log on the internet.
- Download your emails.
- Check out all the texts are visible properly.
- Turn off WiFi and log out the connection.
- Check out your emails and write replies.
- When you finished writing, turn on WiFi and log on the internet.
For web browsing:
- Once you loaded the web page, turn off WiFi and log out.
- Enjoy reading it.
6. Limit what you download
You can choose what you download and limit downloading videos and music files. Skype with a video also consumes a lot of data. A voice chat over Skype is much better. This is how I talk with my family at sea.
You may buy unlimited high-speed WiFi services, Royal Caribbean’s Voom Surf and Stream. In that case, you do not need to think of the limit.
Whether you are a heavy internet user or only for occasionally need to access social media, you need WiFi on a cruise. First, you need to learn which package is the best for your cruise vacation. Set up your device for better internet experience on board. You can do this all before you leave home and save money and time. Once you are ready with WiFi setting for a next cruise, check out more cruise tips. Make your cruise much better this time!
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