Wifi At Sea – A Guide

Although I appreciate many cruisers look forward to a sailing to take the opportunity to ‘disconnect’ from the world wide web and the electronic world out there, many still like to keep connected for multiple reasons, be that work-related, due to family needs or they just want to keep in touch. Most cruise lines these days offer the ability to stay connected at sea, for a fee!

Is internet access included in my cruise fare? 

More and more cruise lines are offering WiFi as a ‘perk’ that is either included in the cruise fare or can be selected as one of the ‘free’ options. This can be included when booking a specific level of stateroom on some lines, or in general as part of an ‘inclusive package’ on others.

What options are available? 

Alternatively, there are various ‘levels’ of service offered by most lines, from you just being able to surf the internet, retrieving emails and updating your social media, to publishing your cruise photos and streaming films and TV shows from suppliers such a Netflix to watch on your tablet, phone or PC.

Obviously, all the various options result in different prices! Some offer options for you to purchase a number of ‘internet minutes’ to be used over the length of your cruise, or access by the hour, day or the whole cruise. Others restrict you to the amount of data you can download but once used up, you can purchase more. In addition, many cruise lines offer members of their loyalty programs ‘free’ minutes or discounts off a purchased package.

As these differ by loyalty program and your level within it, it’s always worth checking with the cruise line. Some cruise lines offer a larger discount or the addition of extra minutes or additional data allowance if you purchase WiFi access prior to departure. Again, check before sailing!

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How good is the internet service? 

There is competition between the cruise lines as to who offers the best service but it is doubtful it will be like you have at home via fibre optic cable providers. Remember the service is provided in most cases by satellites orbiting the earth and so not only does it matter how far the ship is from a satellite, it also depends on the location of both the ship and satellite. You may find that in some parts of the world that internet service is limited, slow or just not available at all!

You will hear people refer to ‘bandwidth’ in relation to internet access and service. Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time and describes the maximum data transfer rate of a network or Internet connection. So, it is worth bearing in mind that when the ship is at sea, with all guests on board, it is extremely likely that there is a great of deal of competition for the available ‘bandwidth’ and as a consequence, the service can appear slow.

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Can I access the internet in my stateroom? 

The other thing to bear in mind is that although WiFi is offered more and more all over the ship, the ability to ‘connect’ can depend on the vessel itself and whether WiFi ‘hot spots’ were installed at the time of construction or have been added at a later date as part of a dry dock upgrade.

If the ship is slightly older, and the WiFi ‘hotspot’ connectors/boosters’  (devices that enable a WiFi connection in an area by ‘broadcasting’ the signal) have been retrofitted then you may find the connection is not as reliable in some areas. It may be fine, so sometimes moving to a more public area can help.

Many of these WiFi ‘boosters’ are located along the corridors outside your stateroom (you’ll often see small boxes near the ceiling with antennas and a blinking light) and so again bear in mind the distance you are located from these devices (such as on your extra larger balcony!) as this can have an impact on your connection and speed of service.

If you experience problems, contact the internet team on board.

Is there any free internet options? 

Many cruise lines now offer ‘apps’ you can utilise whilst on board (or even prior to boarding for check in at the port) and there are limited services available for no fee once connected to the ship WiFi connection. This ranges from reviewing the daily activities in place of reading the daily newsletter, making reservations for dinner, shows or shore excursions to contacting fellow passengers by a form of SMS messaging. This can differ from cruise line and ship.

Can I use my roaming data allowance onboard? 

Remember, in most cases, you cannot use your mobile data allowance whilst on the ship as you are not connected to your phone provider, but most likely to a ‘Cellular at Sea’ service which costs!

So to prevent huge bills when you get back home, the rule of thumb is to turn off mobile data by putting your phone, tablet or PC into ‘aircraft mode’ (which in most cases turns off WiFi automatically),and then if you want to connect to WiFi, switch this option back on. Now you can connect to WiFi without using your precious mobile data allowance from you phone provider.

What do the cruise lines offer? 

Here are some of the services offered by the major mass market cruise lines. Prices change all the time and are often subject to ‘sales’ or are combined with other options such as a beverage package, so check with your cruise company.

Most ships have an ‘Internet Café’ with several workstations which offer complimentary access to various sites related to the cruise line.

If you purchase an internet package you will also be able to use it on these workstations which is useful if you want to check in online for your flight and print off your boarding passes.

Just remember the service can be slow and so it could burn time, which is important if you have purchased internet access by the minute.

RCII

voom – billed as the ‘fastest internet at sea’ it is available on all new build ships and has been retrofitted to older ships as they went through ‘revitalization’ during dry dock.

2 types of packages are available, each of which is priced per device and is available for up to four internet-enabled devices; these can be shared across your group if you’re travelling with others.

Alternatively, log off one device and login to another.

“Surf” if you want to surf the web, stay in touch via email, and share holiday photos on social media.

“Surf + Stream” gives you all the benefits of Surf, but also the capability to stream movies and music from sites such as Netflix or Spotify, and connect using video chat apps such as Skype.

Celebrity Cruises Logo

Xcelerate – as sister cruise line to Royal Caribbean, this is their version of the fast internet service.

The Xcelerate high-speed Internet is available on all Celebrity Cruises ships.

Guests are able to purchase a per-minute rate or an Xcelerate internet package for different cruise durations up to five days prior to their cruise.

Celebrity have dedicated staff in an iLounge, specialising in Apple products for sale and iMacs for use.

MSC Cruises

Thanks to the powerful new Satellite Internet Access system installed across the fleet, internet access is available via your smartphone, tablet, or laptop.

You can also use the facilities of the onboard Internet Café, on select ships, with its full-size screens and keyboards, complemented by high-quality printers.

Both services are accessible 24 hours a day almost everywhere on board (including all public areas).  
   
Customize your cruise with your preferred Internet packages, booking in advance to take advantage of a 20% savings.  

NCL Cruises

STAYING CONNECTED @ SEA: All ships feature Internet Cafés where you have the ability to surf the Web, chat online and access your private e-mail account.

In-Stateroom Access – currently available on: Norwegian Bliss, Breakaway, Dawn, Epic, Gem, Getaway, Jade, Jewel, Pearl, Sky, Spirit, Star, Sun and Pride of America.

Access to printing (From cafe workstations or Laptops) $0.50 per document

There are several packages available. Discounts are offered for all packages if purchased in advance of sailing. All packages can only be used on one device at a time.

250 minutes of internet connectivity for use anytime during the cruise.

The Unlimited Social Media Wi-Fi package – gives you access to the majority of social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc.) This package does not include email access or web browsing.

The Unlimited Wi-Fi package gives you access to unlimited web surfing, email access (no VPN), social media access, all apps. This package does not allow streaming and is priced per day.


The Unlimited Premium Wi-Fi package – gives you access to unlimited web surfing, email access (including VPN), social media access, all apps and streaming options via YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc. It is priced per day but some on-demand content may not available. Live streaming channels are based on your subscription package and location

P&O Cruises

All ships are Wi-Fi enabled so you can access the internet on your own devices or via the PC terminals in the Library.

Satellite internet packages are available to purchase pre cruise (discounts available) or once on board. 

The Connect Package – Stay in touch with family and friends. (Internet messaging and social media)


The Browse Package – browse as you would usually (with the exception of video streaming), plus email and social networks. (Web browsing, email, internet messaging, and social media). 

The Works – stream YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music, video call, browse, email, and share via social networks.

Pay As You Go – a flexible alternative to a 24-hour package and is available to purchase once on board.

Printing and scanning

Should you wish to print pages in the Library, this will be charged at 30 pence per black and white page. If you require a document to be digitally scanned, you can arrange this with reception.

Princess Cruises

MEDALLIONNET™ WI-FI

Internet access is available on all Princess vessels through their 24-hour onboard Internet Cafe and wireless network — which is available in some staterooms and various public areas including the world famous Piazzas.


Please contact the Internet Café Manager onboard for information regarding the charges that apply to internet and wireless services and any other specific requirements.

Plus – Platinum and Elite Captain’s Circle members benefit from credit toward Internet Café packages.

Discounts are available if packages are purchased in advance of sailing.

Holland America Line


Internet Access

Guests can purchase and connect to satellite internet 24 hours a day on each ship in the Holland America Line fleet, either by accessing the wireless network or utilizing the workstations located in the Explorations Café. Internet Plans vary in price to accommodate individual needs and are interchangeable between the workstations in the Explorations Café and your wireless device.

Note that satellite connections may be adversely impacted by physical obstacles such as fjords and inclement weather and the speed is notably slower than shore side connections.

Wireless Internet Service

Each Holland America Line vessel offers wireless access throughout the ship. Guests may use their laptop computer or other wireless internet enabled devices to purchase and connect to the wireless internet service on board.

Powered by the New York Times

The Explorations Café, powered by The New York Times offers a comfortable, coffee house environment where you can purchase and connect to the internet using provided workstations or by using your own wireless internet device, such as a laptop computer, iPad or mobile phone.

Cunard Line

All of the ships are Wi-Fi enabled so you can access the internet on your own devices or via their terminals in the library or ConneXions. Satellite internet packages are available to purchase pre cruise or once on board.

You can also use your roaming partner – when near shore – or the MCP network – when at sea. Charges for these connections are set by your network service provider and will be added to your mobile bill rather than your on board account. Please contact your normal service provider for data allowance and costs.

Satellite internet packages

Cunard are currently updating the satellite internet service across the entire fleet. Due to the nature of the changes being made to the satellite internet service, at present, Cunard are unable to confirm which packages will be available on board during your holiday – this information will be available from your ship. What Cunard can guarantee however, is that as a minimum, for $45 satellite internet credit, you will receive 120 minutes of satellite internet time.  Head to the Library or ConneXions on board to confirm your satellite internet package and redeem your credit – find out more in the Cunard Gift Catalogue.  Once you have booked your holiday, visit Voyager Personaliser to find out how to purchase internet credit.

Once on board, your internet credit can be used to purchase a satellite internet package – your ship will confirm which type of internet package is available. You can also buy internet packages at any time during your cruise.

You can use your satellite internet package on any device, but not simultaneously on multiple devices. It is not possible to wire your device into an internet connection on board.

If you are on a back to back (two or more consecutive) cruise(s) please note that the satellite internet service may be unavailable during turnaround days when the ship changes from one cruise to the next.

Printing and scanning

You can print pages in the Library or ConneXions; a small charge per page will be added to your on board account.  If you require a document to be digitally scanned, please speak to the Purser’s Desk.  

Complimentary Internet Time for Cunard World Club Members

  • Gold tier members of the Cunard World Club receive up to two hours complimentary internet time per voyage  
  • Platinum members receive up to four hours complimentary internet time per voyage  
  • Diamond members receive up to eight hours complimentary internet time per voyage  

Free packages for World Club members must be purchased in the normal way and will then be refunded at the end of the cruise. The free usage is per voyage, except on world voyages when it will be refreshed at the end of every financial sector. Any enquiries about World Club usage will be dealt with in the Voyage Sales Office in the Grand Lobby on Deck 1.

Disney Cruise Line

Connect@Sea offers Internet packages based on your online needs. Instead of paying by the minute, you pay for the data you use. So, for instance, streaming movies will consume a lot more megabytes (data) than reading email. Using the onboard WiFi, connect anywhere on the ship and chat, post pictures on social media or simply stay connected while at sea.

You can share a single Connect@Sea package. Simply login to your account on any device that you want to use to access the Internet. Multiple devices can use the same package simultaneously. The combined usage is tracked on one meter, which can be monitored via the browser window.

There are a variety of data packages available from pay-as-you-go to ones for the whole family. For the most up-to-date rates, refer to the information provided in your stateroom or contact a Connect@Sea representative, located inside Promenade Lounge.

 

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Peter Horton

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