Surfing at Sea: Connecting to the Net on Cruise Ships


Whilst the thought of escaping all the stresses of the outside world can be very inviting when embarking on a cruise, we are increasingly reliant on the internet. The majority of major cruise ships offer an internet connection. Here we examine the considerations you should make when browsing the web on a cruise and the different policies that different companies take.

Child Computer - Chris Harrison

Patience is Key

The internet on board a cruise ship will almost certainly be slower than your connection at home. This is due to the proximity of the ship to the internet substation. Your home may be connected to a substation by as little as two miles of fibre optic cable, whereas the ship’s internet signal may have to travel 22,300 miles. This will instantly slow down the process.

Furthermore, the expense attached to keeping a satellite omitting the internet connection is huge, meaning that numerous parties have to share one connection. This can serve to further slow the connection. The internet may become unreliable at times during the cruise due to geographical location.

The Significance of the Equator

Passengers enjoying a tropical cruise to the equator may experience increased internet speeds and improved reliability due to the closer proximity of the satellites. Satellites are positioned in a geostationary orbit above the equator, to ensure that they have maximum coverage.

Cruise Ship Browsing Tips

The simplest trick to using the internet at an increased speed is to do so when fewer other passengers are online, either late at night or when others are on excursions. This decreases the stress placed on bandwidth and can speed up the process.

Additionally, logging into your own Google account can speed up the process as some of the pages may be cached and some cookies may be saved. This will decrease the new data that needs to be downloaded. Just don’t forget to sign out when you log off. Be sure to use only low-bandwidth services such as basic websites. Sites with a lot of video streaming require more bandwidth and will load slowly.

Always ensure that your mobile phone is on airplane mode as you may be charged roaming prices or may accidently click an internet browser which could cost you significant amounts of money.

Azamara Club Cruises

Both the Azamara Journey and the Azamara Quest have 24-hour computer centres. Wireless network cards can be sought for smartphones and laptops. Browsing packages can be bought for $40 (75 minutes), $60 (125 minutes), $80 (185 minutes) or $100 (265 minutes).

Carnival Cruise Lines

Wi-Fi is available on all Carnival Cruise ships. A customised web portal allows simpler access to news and sports sites on the cyber café computers. Browsing packages can be bought for $29 (45 minutes), $59 (120 minutes), $89 (240 minutes) and $159 (480 minutes).

Celebrity Cruises

With the exception of the Century, the Xpedition and the Constellation; Celebrity Cruises’ ships all offer Wi-Fi in the 24-hour cyber cafes. Newer vessels include state-of-the-art Mac products. Browsing packages can be bought for $24.95 (38 minutes), $49.95 (90 minutes), $99.95 (208 minutes), $199.95 (555 minutes) or $399.95 (1,666 minutes) for those truly committed to browsing.

Mac - Brandon Morse

Cunard Line

Cunard’s liners each have 30 computer terminals with internet access and Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the ships. Browsing packages can be bought for $47.95 (2 hours), $89.95 (4 hours) and $167.95 (8 hours).

Disney Cruise Line

The Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder both have internet cafes on board as well as computer terminals in the teen club, Vibe. Wireless high-speed internet is available throughout the ships. Browsing packages can be bought for $55 (100 minutes), $100 (250 minutes) and $150 (500 minutes).

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Wi-Fi is available for passengers in dedicated hotspots. Special tokens need to be purchased in advance from the reception. Wireless access costs 20p per minute and wired connection costs 25p per minute.

Cruise Computers - Josh Friedman

Holland America

Holland America have dedicated a lot of time to improving their internet services, providing some of the most comprehensive cruise ship browsing options. High speed terminals are scattered throughout the ship and wireless access is also available.

Browsing packages can be bought for $55 (100 minutes) or $100 (250 minutes).

MSC Cruises

All MSC Cruise ships contain comprehensive internet cafes and wireless connectivity. Passengers are required to register on the browser once the log on. Browsing packages can be bought for $25 (60 minutes).

Norwegian Cruise Line

24-hour internet cafes are available on all Norwegian Cruise Line ships except the Norwegian Sky and Pride of America. The Norwegian Epic also has iConcierge, an Apple, Android and Windows 7 users tap into on-board passenger information and make reservations. Browsing packages can be bought for 40 or 55 cents per minute, depending on the size of the package.

P&O Cruises

All P&O Cruises contain cyber cafes and Wi-Fi hotspots throughout. Some ships contain Wi-Fi connectivity in passenger cabins. Browsing packages can be bought for £35 (100 minutes) or £62.50 (250 minutes).

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruise ships have Wi-Fi hotspots throughout their public areas and cabins. Passengers with laptops can buy Windows XP compatible browsing cards. Browsing packages can be bought for $55 (100 minutes), $75 (150 minutes) or $100 (250 minutes).

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean has rolled out Wi-Fi to the entirety of its fleet this year. Furthermore, they have implemented internet cafes and direct connections to stocks, sports and entertainment sites. Prepaid packages can be bought for $35 (60 minutes) or $150 (500 minutes).

Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: Brandon Morse, Chris Harrison, Josh Friedman


About Author

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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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