Wi-Fi is super important when traveling, otherwise how else would you be able to share your voyage experiences with your social media followers in real time?
Unfortunately while cruise ships usually do have Wi-Fi, it often comes at a fee (which can be really high).
But don’t worry; in this article, we are going to show you how to get free Wi-Fi on a cruise ship.
How To Get Free Wifi On A Cruise Ship
1. Watch out for free perks when booking your cruise
Many cruise lines offer free perks every now and then to entice more passengers.
These special offers can include free Wi-Fi or free onboard credit (like Royal Caribbean), which you can use to purchase a wifi package.
Royal Caribbean normally offer free onboard credit to encourage guests to pick an outside cabin rather than an inside one, or upgrade from an outside cabin to a balcony stateroom.
Some cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Line do not offer free wifi, but they have 3 internet packages you can choose from:
Social, Value, and Premium. For about $5, you can buy the Social plan and connect to your favorite social networks and several airline websites.
2. Enroll into the cruise line’s loyalty program
All cruise lines reward returning passengers with loyalty programmes that often include free wifi, but surprisingly most people do not even realize it.
If you are a regular traveler, be sure to sign up for your cruise line’s loyalty program and claim your free wifi.
3. Use your phone as a hotspot
If you need to use internet on your laptop urgently, you can always tether your smartphone to the laptop if you don’t want to pay for wifi.
4. Use other passenger’s wifi
When setting up hotspots from their phones, most people tend to forget one important step: protecting the hotspot with a password.
If you scan for open wifis with your phone, chances are you may find one or two you can “borrow” for a short while. (Note: this is not an endorsement to steal other people’s wifi)
5. Talk with the crew members
Cruise staff members usually spend a lot of time at sea and, naturally, know a few ways to cut around corners while traveling. Talk to them about possible free wifis onboard or in port.
6. Get free wifi in port
If you have not managed to get free internet onboard, just take a walk along the local towns while in port and you will easily find a few bars offering free Wifi to attract tourists.
7. Go up
If you don’t want to get off the ship in port but still need to use the internet, go to the top deck with your laptop and you may get some free Wifi signals originating from the port.
What You Need To Know About Wifi On A Cruise Ship
1. Signal is not as strong as your home wifi
Internet at sea relies on satellite service, where signals are transmitted from the ship to a satellite in space and then back again.
This process used to take a painfully long time, but maritime communication companies have come up with various ways of speeding it up like linking up with close-by onshore towers,
increasing the bandwidth between each transmission, and adding more satellites.
But between the long distance and the possible obstacles in the pathway from the ship to the satellites and back, the speed is still not up to par.
2. Pricing is dropping, but it will take time
If you are looking for free Wifi on your cruise ship, chances are you have noticed the high cost of connectivity.
These prices are typically high because the satellites used to provide internet are also pretty expensive (running up to hundreds of millions of dollars).
In fact, cruise lines often have to team up with maritime communications companies to be able to put up a satellite.
Some cruise lines (such as Carnival) have started using hybrid systems that combine cheaper land-based links with the more expensive satellite connections.
Carnival cruise ships use a hybrid system to offer the $5 a day social media package, which gives you access to all of your social media sites.
However, you will have to pay more to use bandwidth-hogging apps like Skype and FaceTime.
3. The Caribbean is the best destination for good wifi
The best connectivity you will find on cruise ship is around the Caribbean.
This is because the destination attracts many tourists and cruises throughout the year,
which has prompted maritime communication company SES Networks to place numerous satellites just above the area to improve coverage.
MTN Communications has also found a way to direct its satellite to ships around the Caribbean, so that the vessels are within the footprint of the satellite.
4. There are tricks for getting online during vacation
If you need a fast internet connection, try going online when few people are using the internet like in port when most people are off-board or during the night.
The connection tends to slow down if there are too many people sharing limited bandwidth.
Another tip is to save most of your internet usage for when you get close to land, as some ships switch to land-based (terrestrial) towers when sailing close to the shore.
5. You should turn off your phone to avoid extra costs
Calls aboard the ship are basically billed by two companies: your mobile provider and the satellite provider.
The satellite provider charges for using the onboard mini-cell tower, which is how your calls are transmitted, while your
cell phone provider charges a roaming rate. Rest assured, these fees will be added to your bill even if they are not specified.
To minimize costs:
- Avoid downloading messages using the ship’s mobile network
- Consider keeping your phone in airplane mode
- Watch out for incoming text messages
Roaming charges on a mobile network can be particularly high. If you just need to quickly check your email or look something up online for a few minutes, you are better off using the cruise ship’s wifi.
FAQs on Cruise Ships Free WiFi
How much is wifi on a cruise ship?
Cruise ships typically charge about 75 cents a minute for onboard internet. However, most cruise lines offer internet packages that are ultimately cheaper than the minute-by-minute rate.
Why is Wifi so expensive on cruise ships?
Wifi on cruise ships relies on satellite technology, which is quite expensive. The connection is also usually poor because of the long proximity of the satellites from the cruise ships.
Is Voom Internet on Royal Caribbean ships good?
According to many users, Royal Caribbean’s Voom internet is quite fast and reliable. It almost rivals speeds on land and comes at a fairly reasonable price, with packages starting from $12.99 a day, per device.
Accessing the internet while on the sea is quite expensive, which is why most travelers often wonder how to get free wifi on a cruise ship.
Fortunately, more and more cruise lines are investing on improving their onboard internet connection and with time may be able to offer cheaper or even free internet.
Crystal Cruises, for instance, has partnered with a web-accelerating company that improves load time by storing information for frequently accessed web pages,
so that the same data does not have to be transmitted repeatedly every time you visit these websites.