Internet access has become a central part of everyday life for many people, and whether you like it or not, cruise lines are continually finding new ways to embrace the World Wide Web, offering guests ever-better connectivity at sea. While it’s perfectly understandable that many cruisers will simply want to get away from it all and forget about the constant flow of emails to their inbox and avoid a bombardment of social media notifications while they’re on holiday, for those who simply can’t bear the thought of no internet access for the duration of their cruise, here are some useful tips to help you stay connected at sea.
Don’t expect a superfast connection
Although cruise ship Wi-Fi is getting better and better each year, for the foreseeable future, your cruise ship’s internet will not be as fast as your home broadband connection. Cruise ship internet is powered by satellites signals, and as such, will never be as reliable as a good old-fashioned cable. Chances are you’ll just have to be patient. If you really need to access the internet at sea, try not to get too stressed out at the slow connection speeds and remember that everyone else on-board is in the same boat (pun intended).
Be prepared to pay up for Wi-Fi access
Cruise lines pay through the nose to keep their cruise ships connected to the internet while out in the open ocean, so you can expect them to charge you relatively high prices for the privilege of access to the World Wide Web. Different cruise lines will charge different amounts for Wi-Fi access, and while some will charge per minute, others may want you to pay per megabyte used. On average, cruise lines will require around 50p per minute of internet access, or about 20p per megabyte, but this can vary, so do your research beforehand to avoid a costly shock.
Look out for internet package deals
While many cruise lines will make you pay for internet by the minute or megabyte, some will offer special internet access packages at a much cheaper rate. If you’re relying on internet access whilst at sea, purchasing an internet package is by far the best way to get the most for you money. However, most of these package options will require payment up front, so be sure that you’re definitely going to use all of the allotted internet access in your package before you buy one to avoid wasting your hard-earned cash of unwanted time online.
Surf the web at off-peak times
You don’t need to be a computer whiz to know that the more people trying to access the internet at the same time, the slower your connection will be. If you find yourself muttering expletives when you’re dealing with dial-up-speed connections, it might be better for your stress levels to surf the web at a time when others won’t be online, whether that’s late at night, early in the morning or when other guests are making their way ashore. Another alternative is to wait until you are in port, find some free Wi-Fi access on land and surf the web at a much faster speed.
Choose a modern, recently-launched ship
The more modern and innovative your ship, the more likely it is that you will enjoy a reliable internet connection on-board. Royal Caribbean’s latest Quantum Class ships – Quantum and Anthem of the Seas – boast high-speed Wi-Fi on-board, offering some of the very best connectivity at sea. Many modern ships will also feature an internet cafe on-board, where you will likely enjoy much faster internet access when compared to connecting to your ship’s Wi-Fi via your phone or laptop.
Think about alternatives
Do you really need to be on-line whilst on-board? Consider downloading things to your phone or tablet before you go wherever possible. To keep up to date with the news, you can often find newspapers on-board your ship, just ask at the guest relations desk to find out where they're kept. If you really need a live connection, you could wait until you leave the ship on shore days, and find a bar of cafe offering free Wi-Fi. There are apps you can download to your device to help you locate Wi-Fi hotspots across the globe.
Do your research!
In the end, if you want to get the best internet access at sea, it simply comes down to doing your research. Make sure you pick a ship that can handle high levels of connectivity, check what charges will apply and look forward to staying in touch with friends and up to date with current affairs while you set sail on the completely connected cruise holiday.