At one time in history, it was possible to get away from all the stress and worries of everyday life when you went on holiday. However, with today’s get it done yesterday, high technical world, it’s impossible to escape the internet.
This has been seen in all aspects of travel including cruise liners. The internet has had a long history with cruises, with the first internet use set up on a cruise ship in 1999, when the Norwegian Sky opened up a cyber café for users.
Cruise ship internet access is pricey and has known to be as high as £1.60 per minute or more, plus £2.50 or more for activation on a pay-as-you-go plan. Most cruise lines offer packages that are lower than the pay-as-you-go plan even though it still remains a costly option. Internet Plans vary in price to accommodate individual needs and are interchangeable between the private computer terminals available on board ship and your own wireless device.
If you cannot remain internet free during your holiday, purchasing a designated minute plan is probably the best option as it is the most cost efficient way. The more minutes purchased in advance, the lower the minute rate. If you buy an internet package on the day of arrival prior to dinner, some ships will throw in free bonus minutes. But buyer beware, there are no refunds for unused time.
Times Are Changing
Regent Seven Seas Cruises may have just become the innovator for the future of a cruise holiday’s Wi-Fi experience. After publicising this in the media, the line is adding free Wi-Fi access for some of its passengers.
As of the Autumn 2014 season, passengers on the line’s Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Navigator all-suite ships in concierge-level and higher suites will receive up to 500 minutes of free Wi-Fi.
Image courtesy of Regent Seven Seas
This is part of a multi-million investment of upgrading their Internet services fleet-wide, which includes increasing their satellite bandwidth by double of what it is used now to speed up connections radically than the normal speed at sea. Kunal S. Kamlani, president of Regent Seven Seas, said that the Internet experience for Regent passengers would “significantly” improve.
The number of free Internet minutes will be incremented based on the length of the voyage. For instance, 200 free minutes will be awarded for those on one- to seven-night voyages, 300 or eight to 10 nights, 400 for 11 to 15 nights and 500 for 16 nights and longer.
Many passengers just can’t leave home without continuing their social networking connections to friends and family. System wide, cruise lines have recognised this and have developed Wi-Fi hot spots throughout their ship, sometimes even within the cabin to handle cell phone service to communication tablets.
Internet cafés at sea are now the norm, not the exception. Even small ships and some new riverboats have one or two computers onboard for guest use and the landscape is changing daily. Award-winning river cruise line AmaWaterways River Cruises is offering a feature of complimentary Wi-Fi service on-board.
If the ship has Wi-Fi is available everywhere onboard, the reception will not be as good in certain locations. A rule of thumb is the closer you are to the Wi-Fi access point (antenna), the better the connection. If you do not use a BYO laptop or Smartphone, there are designated areas known as Internet cafés or Internet kiosks for use.
Take a look at a selection of Cruise Lines internet facilities
Carnival Cruise Lines
Wi-Fi is obtainable on all Carnival ships including 24-hour cyber cafes. FunHub internet kiosks are located on selected ships and can be used for when you just need a brief connection for sending off a quick message.
Most ships in Celebrity Cruise’s fleet offer Wi-Fi connectivity in select public areas onboard including cabins. The only exception for cabin service is on board the Century, Xpedition and Constellation. All ships contain an internet cafe for those who left their device at home.
Image courtesy of Celebrity Cruises
Passengers have the convenience of being able to use laptops in the privacy of their staterooms with the addition of in-room wireless connectivity. Mobile phones and handheld devices can now also be used even when the ship is at sea. Those with World Club status will obtain some time plans complimentary.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line ships feature a 24-hour Internet Cafe with high-speed access via the ships on-board satellite system. There are additional Wi-Fi hotspots in several public areas such as the Promenade Lounge during the day and for the teens at the Edge and Vibe.
Holland America Line
Holland America features Wi-Fi in most public areas, but not in cabins. Laptop and Wi-Fi card rental may be available in their 24/7 Explorations Café. Holland America also offers classes for those non techie types.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Public areas for Wi-Fi are covered for all ships in their fleet along with cyber cafes. In the cabin, Wi-Fi Internet is now available on select ships, including Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Sky and Pride of America.
Princess Cruises does not offer Wi-Fi in cabins as of yet, instead in most public areas. The Sun Princess is now the second cruise vessel in the world to provide 3G mobile communication services at sea. Princess’ sister brand AIDA Cruise’s ship, AIDAStella was the first to launch this service.
Royal Caribbean International
Wi-Fi can be accessed on Royal Caribbean in select public areas onboard all ships. Newer ships feature in cabin Wi-Fi internet access. RCCL has increased its internet bandwidth to handle the number of passengers to access the web. There are also Internet Cafes onboard each ship.
Silversea Cruises surveyed its passenger base in 2010 and claim that “65 percent of its guests use some form of onboard Internet access.” They have done a significant upgrade of accessing high-quality wireless Internet connections throughout the ships. Guests can conveniently access the internet with their own laptop and a wireless card in the privacy of their own suite.
Image courtesy of Silversea Cruises
Until such time as the internet speed improves system wide and the pricing drops, there are ways to save a little and use the extra cash to take indulge in the spa or specialty dining restaurant on your cruise holiday.
- Avoid large file downloads, uploads or even watching videos on line, as these tend to slow down the speed considerably. The minutes you purchase will burn out quickly.
- Try getting on line early in the morning or late in the evening when there are fewer people who are logged-on. The connection will be faster than when everyone is on-line.
- Pre-write an email message before logging on to the internet. Just cut and paste the message into the body of the email after logging on and send them off.
- Many terminals that a ship makes port at offer free Wi-Fi access. So take the laptop or tablet ashore.
- Bring along a wireless Internet card (also called an air card). Use it when near or at a port. This is an especially attractive option for ports of call in your home country, as you will not have to pay international data roaming charges.
- Once on the open seas, unfortunately there is only one option for accessing the Internet, namely, the ships satellite Internet connection.
Generally speaking, accessing the internet whilst at sea tends to be slower, and accessing cyberspace is expensive. Besides a slower connection than you may not be accustomed to, service can be interrupted or unavailable at times.
Cruise ship internet pricing changes from year to year, it’s a smart move to contact the cruise line prior to sailing to find out about your technical options and the costs of service. These will vary not only by cruise line but by individual ship too.
With the future advancements anticipated for at sea Wi-Fi access, hopefully, the perk that Regent Seven Seas Cruises has scheduled will take off system wide.
Written by Veronica Shine
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