Using The Internet On A Cruise Ship

Ever wondered about using the internet on a cruise ship?

We often get asked a lot of questions about using the internet on a cruise ship.  This is perhaps unsurprising, after all, the last 10 years has seen the internet become an integral part of everyday life for the vast majority of us.  Whether we use it to send emails, upload photos to a social networking account or just search for information, there’s a comfort involved in knowing the we have such amazing resources available at our finger tips.  In fact, some of us are so reliant on the internet, that the knowledge we’re going to be without it for any length of time might bring on the shakes or heart palpitations.

So what happens when we’re about to go on a holiday – or in this case, a cruise?  Do we kiss goodbye to the information superhighway for a week or so and hope that nothing too drastic in the cyber-world happens in our absence?

Firstly, the good news is that nearly all cruise ships now offer onboard wireless hotspots – or in the very least an internet cafe – so you can rest assured that there will be a way of getting online whilst you are on your cruise holiday.  Even the smallest of ships have some kind of access available, even if it does turn out to be a ancient PC hidden away in the ship’s library.

However, before you start thinking about packing your smartphones, tablets or laptops, it’s a good idea to do a bit of research on the prices you can expect to pay while you’re out at sea. Cruise internet connections aren’t cheap; so if you’re paying by the minute, expect to pay more than a few pennies for your time online.  A bit research suggests that whilst prices do vary between cruise lines, you can be expected to pay as much as 70p per minute whilst your online at sea so it’s definitely a good idea to check all the small print before you log in.

One of the downfalls about using the internet on a cruise ship is the generally speed.  At times, it can feel like you’ve been transported back to a time when broadband didn’t exist and you had time to make a cup of tea whilst a webpage loaded.  However, there is a reason that the internet on cruise ships is notoriously slow. Logistically, it’s incredible that a boat of any size could get internet at all given that it is constantly moving and unable to plug in to any wired systems at all. In fact, internet onboard cruise ships is supplied by radio waves that are bounced off a satellite which is roughly 22,000 miles above the earth. To get to your computer, the data you search online has a 44,000 mile journey. Pretty impressive really!

Top tips for using the internet on a cruise ship

1) If you’re short on space in your luggage, leave your laptop at home. Most ships will offer connected computers in lounge areas or in the dedicated internet cafes.  There might be a surcharge for using these facilities but in terms of ease, they’re definitely your best option.

2) If you’re a keen internet user, it may be worth looking into the possibility of buying an ‘internet bundle’, which will offer a block of online minutes at a significantly reduced rate so you can get online repeatedly during your trip.  Oceania Cruises, Cunard and Celebrity Cruises all offer schemes you can join when you board to help reduce the cost of being online whilst away.

3) At almost every port that you stop at you will find an internet café close by. Local workers are accustomed to cruise visitors being in a hurry to get online after time at sea, so the facilities will be readily available and usually much cheaper than the onboard alternative.

4) Internet connections onboard cruise ships will be understandably slow, so try to avoid large uploads or downloads of photos as these will take a long time and could rack up a large bill.

Written by Katie Jackson for The Cruise Line. Copyright 2012.

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David Smith

About David Smith

David is The Cruise Line's Marketing Director and has worked in travel for nearly 15 years. In his youth, he toured Europe in a punk rock band, but he has since settled into the cruise way of life and his favourite ship is Seven Seas Mariner.

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