Do Cruise Ships Have WiFi? Quick Guide for Travelers

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Planning a cruise vacation can be exciting, but one essential question that you might be wondering is, “Do cruise ships have WiFi?” The good news is, yes, modern cruise ships offer WiFi.

Although the internet speeds on a ship will be slower than what you’re used to on land, the availability of WiFi on cruise ships is continuously improving to ensure you stay connected while sailing.

Though cruise ships may have slower connections, recent technological advancements have made it possible for you to access the internet at more affordable rates and increasing speeds.

As you plan your cruise vacation, you can share your memorable experiences and upload beautiful images of your trip, all thanks to satellite internet. So, pack your bags and embark on a fantastic journey, knowing that the digital world is just a click away.

Do Cruise Ships Have WiFi?

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Yes, all cruise ships have WiFi and internet connections. However, the WiFi connections’ quality, reliability, and speed might not be as high as you are used to at home.

Cruise ships usually offer different internet packages depending on your needs. You may find options such as:

  • Pay-as-you-go plans: where you pay for your internet usage
  •  Daily packages: where you can purchase a set amount of data per day
  •  Full cruise packages: where you can use a certain amount of data for the entire duration of the cruise

Cruise ship internet relies on satellite technology. Though the technology and number of satellites providing internet service constantly improve, it’s still not the same as land-based internet connections.

Remember that even with the advancements in satellite technology, WiFi on cruise ships is slower and less reliable than the internet connection you have at home. Several factors affect the bandwidth and reliability of the connection on a cruise ship, including the satellite provider, weather, location, and the number of satellites in the range of the vessel.

While WiFi speeds are often slow, you can still use the internet for basic web browsing, email, messaging, and streaming. Advancements in satellite technology, such as Starlink’s low earth orbit satellite, and investments by cruise lines aim to provide you with the best possible experience while sailing the high seas.

Things You Need To Know

If you plan on taking a cruise soon, it’s essential to know that staying connected to the internet while at sea can be a bit different than what you’re used to on land. Slow speeds, different price packages, and need to put your phone on airplane mode are just a few things to remember.

Here are some things to remember before you purchase a WiFi package.

Internet Speeds Are Slower Than You Expect

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When sailing on a cruise ship, the internet speeds are slower than you’re used to at home. The slower speeds are due to the cruise ship’s reliance on satellite-based connections, which can suffer from latency issues and interference.

Internet speeds of 2 to 10 Mbps are typical on cruise ships.

By comparison, most people use internet speeds of 50 to 200 Mbps at home.

Although you will have access to WiFi, you might encounter slower loading times for websites, and you may need patience when using onboard internet. You’ll notice the most significant impact during video calls, streaming, and uploading larger files, as the bandwidth available might not be adequate for such activities.

You may find inconsistent internet speeds throughout the day and in different areas of the ship.

That’s because your internet connection relies on the number of satellites the ship can connect. The connection may drop if you’re in a northern or southern region or sail between a gap in satellites.

You may find dead zones in some areas of the ship. Dead zones are especially noticeable on older cruise ships not designed for high-speed WiFi connectivity. Newer vessels are built with access to the internet in mind, so you’ll find more reliable service around the ship.

You Need To Pay More To Stream

Most cruise lines offer different internet packages with varying speeds. Most mainstream cruise lines charge extra for onboard WiFi.

If you plan on catching up on your favorite shows or watching movies, you should expect to pay a premium for streaming capabilities.

You’ll often find pre-booking discounts offered by the cruise line. Pre-purchasing the WiFi package is a good idea if you need internet at sea.

Put Your Phone On Airplane Mode

While on a cruise ship, you must put your phone on airplane mode to avoid roaming charges. Make sure you turn on airplane mode before you embark so you don’t forget once the cruise entertainment begins.

You can still connect to the ship’s WiFi while your phone is in airplane mode. Just enable WiFi on your device after switching to airplane mode, and you can connect to the ship’s network.

Starlink Is Changing Everything

Traditional cruise ship internet relies on medium and high earth orbit satellite providers such as SES, O3b, and Marlink.

The primary reason for slow and unreliable internet access on cruise ships is the low number of satellites in orbit and the time it takes for signals to travel between Earth and higher Earth orbits.

New technologies Starlink can provide much faster internet speeds. Starlink is a satellite internet service developed by SpaceX, aiming to provide global high-speed internet coverage.

Starlink can provide faster internet speeds for cruise ships because it uses a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites to provide internet connectivity. They also have a much larger constellation of satellites available for cruise ships to connect with.

Most major cruise lines and cruise operators have partnerships with Starlink, including Royal Caribbean Group, Carnival Corporation, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

As more cruise ships adopt Starlink and similar technologies, you can expect faster and more reliable internet connections while onboard. Keep an eye out for these technological advancements, as they may impact your future cruising experiences.

Internet Packages By Cruise Line

This section will explore the WiFi packages available on various cruise lines.

Carnival Cruise Line

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Carnival offers three WiFi plans:

  • The Social WiFi Plan provides access to social media apps, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Messenger, and more. The package costs $10.20 per day when purchased before embarkation or $12 per day when purchased on the ship.
  •  The Value WiFi Plan provides access to social media, unlimited internet browsing, and email. It starts at $14.40 per day when purchased before sailing and $17 per day when purchased on the cruise. Guests can buy 24-hour internet access for $20.
  •  The Premium WiFi Plan is ideal for faster internet access and streaming capabilities. It has the fastest connection, three times faster than the Value plan. The package has a pre-cruise price of $17, costing $20 when purchased on the vessel. You can also purchase 24-hour premium WiFi for $20. 

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises offers two internet packages for passengers who book the cruise-only fare.

The Basic WiFi plan allows you to browse the web, and access email, social media, and messaging services FOR $19.99 per device, per day.

If you need faster internet speeds and streaming, you can purchase the Premium plan for $34.99 per device per day.

You can get a package discount when you join the cruise line’s loyalty program. Classic-level members of Celebrity’s Captain’s Club get 10% off all internet packages. And Zenith-level members receive complimentary Premium WiFi.

Guests who book the Always Included fare receive complimentary Basic WiFi. You can upgrade to the Premium Plan for an additional $15 per day to take advantage of faster speeds and streaming.

Cunard Line

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Cunard Line offers two internet plans for passengers, Essential and Premium.

 The Essential Internet plan costs $20 for 24 hours of access or $15 per day for the entire voyage. The plan provides browsing, email, messaging, social media, and music streaming.

The Premium Internet plan costs $30 for 24 hours of access or $20 per day for the whole voyage. With the Premium package comes faster speed and video streaming.

You can connect per plan or purchase a second plan with a 10% discount.

Cunard World Club Members receive credit towards internet costs. Gold members receive $45, Platinum members receive $80, and Diamond members receive $135.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line offers different internet plans based on the ship and cruise destination.

There’s no option to pre-purchase the internet package. Instead, you’ll find available options on the DCL-GUEST WiFi network after boarding. You can also visit the Connect@Sea app for help connecting to the network.

Some Disney cruise ships provide pay-as-you-go plans. Because you’re paying for the data you use, there aren’t any restrictions on sharing. You can connect as many devices as you want on a single plan.

Just be sure to sign out when you’re done so you don’t accidentally use up more data than you intend.

Some ships, like the Disney Wish, offer two packages, Basic Surf for $20 per day and Premium Surf for $30 per day.

It’s important to note that none of the internet plans provide access to video streaming services. And you don’t need to purchase WiFi to use the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app.

Holland America Line

Holland America Line offers three internet packages for guests:

  • The Social plan provides access to most social media websites and messaging apps for $14.99 per day.
  •  The Surf plan provides everything in the social plan, plus browsing and email, for $24.99 per day.
  •  The Premium package provides everything in the previous two packages, plus audio and video streaming for $29.99 per day.

If you purchase the “Have It All” Premium Cruise Package, you’ll receive the Surf package, the Signature Beverage Package, a shore excursion credit, and specialty dining.

MSC Cruises

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MSC Cruises offers two internet packages Browse and Browse & Stream.

Browse:

  • Unlimited data
  •  24-hour access
  •  Browse the web
  •  Send and receive emails
  •  Chat on messenger apps like Whatsapp, Signal, and more

Browse & Stream Package

  • Unlimited data
  •  24-hour access
  •  Browse the web
  •  Send and receive emails
  •  Chat on messenger apps like Whatsapp, Signal, and more
  •  Video chatting
  •  Stream music, movies, TV, and videos
  •  Post video and live stream on social media

Package pricing varies by destination. The MSC Browse Package is usually priced around $11 on US sailings, while MSC Browse & Stream is generally around $15.

You can add on additional devices at a reduced rate.

And you’ll save 20% on either internet plan when you purchase a package before sailing.

MSC Voyagers Club members receive discounts on package purchases. And guests booked in MSC Yacht Club receive a complimentary Browse package for two devices.

It’s important to note that unlike most of the cruise lines on this list, MSC Cruises doesn’t let you switch devices. You can’t change the device once you connect a device to the ship’s WiFi.

So make sure you sign in with the right device.

Norwegian Cruise Line

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Norwegian Cruise Line offers several internet packages for passengers.

  1. Unlimited WiFi Package: Provides basic internet access, including web browsing, email, and select social media sites. The package costs $29.99 per device per day, but you can get deals when you purchase the plan for multiple devices.
  2.  Unlimited Premium WiFi: Provides the fastest internet speeds. You can access everything in the unlimited package, plus streaming and video chatting. The package costs $39.99 per device per day, but you can get deals when you purchase the plan for multiple devices.
  3.  Pay-As-You-Go: Norwegian Cruise Line also offers a pay-as-you-go option, which allows guests to use the internet on a per-minute basis. This option can be useful for passengers who require minimal internet access. You can use the minutes throughout the cruise at any time. Be sure to disconnect when you don’t need the internet so you don’t accidentally use up more than you intend.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises offers one-tier WiFi, known as Medallionnet.

There are no different packages for different speeds or types of access; instead, you simply choose whether or not you want to purchase WiFi access.

The cost is $14.99 per day for one device or $25 per day for up to four devices. However, you can receive complimentary WiFi as part of the larger Princess Plus or Princess Premier packages, including items like drink packages and gratuities.

In terms of performance, Princess claims that MedallionNet download speeds can exceed 100 Mbps and upload speeds can exceed 60 Mbps.

However, many readers have written to us reporting significantly slower speeds, especially on older ships and northern sailings. Streaming, video calling, and texting over WiFi are all possible, though the quality may vary depending on the connection speed.

You don’t need to purchase an internet package to use the Princess Cruises app on the ship.​

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises provides basic complimentary WiFi for all guests. Their free internet at sea allows for web browsing, email access, social media, and messaging.

Each suite receives one login code. You can use the internet on one device at a time. When you switch devices, the previously connected device is kicked off the network once the new device signs in.

Seven Seas Society gold tier members and above receive up to four logins per suite. Meaning you can use the unlimited internet on up to four devices simultaneously.

To stream Skype, Netflix, YouTube, and VPN services, you must purchase an upgraded package for $9.99 per day.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas docked in Sitka Alaska cruise portPin

Royal Caribbean offers two internet packages:

  1. Voom Surf: This package provides basic WiFi service for web browsing, checking email, and using social media. It does not support video streaming. The cost varies based on the number of devices and the pre-cruise discount, ranging from $9.99 per day for one device to $31.99 per day for five devices.
  2.  Voom Surf + Stream: This package provides faster speeds and video and audio streaming support. The cost for this package also varies based on the number of devices and the pre-cruise discount, with prices ranging from $12.99 per day for one device to $41.99 per day for five devices.

Unlike most cruise lines, Royal Caribbean’s Voom WiFi pricing varies depending on the ship and itinerary.

If a guest is a Diamond member or higher in Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor Society, they can get an onboard discount for internet packages. However, this discount cannot be combined or used on internet packages purchased before the cruise.

Their packages are flexible, allowing users to share internet access with anyone they want and switch between devices as long as the maximum number of devices under the plan is not exceeded at any given time.

Thanks to Starlink, Royal Caribbean has some of the fastest internet on cruise ships.

Seabourn Cruises

Seabourn Cruises offers a complimentary WiFi service to all passengers. This complimentary Surf WiFi enables guests to browse the web, access their emails, use social media platforms, and send messages.

Guests who need faster speeds and streaming services like Skype, Netflix, YouTube, or VPN services can upgrade to the Stream WiFi package for $19.95 per day.

Diamond-level members of Seabourn Club and passengers booked in Penthouse and Premium suites receive the Stream Internet for free.

Silversea Cruises

Silversea Cruises offers two levels of internet access, standard and premium.

Standard internet is free for guests in Vista and Veranda Suites, while premium internet is complimentary for passengers booked in Medallion, Silver, Royal, Grand, and Owner’s suites.

However, all guests on Silver Origin receive complimentary standard WiFi. And all World Cruise or Grand Voyage guests receive free premium WiFi.

Viking Cruises

Viking Cruises provides complimentary internet service to all guests. The ship’s WiFi relies on a VSAT satellite terminal which Viking calls “one of the best solutions for internet access on an ocean cruise.”

Virgin Voyages

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Virgin Voyages offers two WiFi packages to their guests:

  1. Basic WiFi: All sailors receive free WiFi with their cruise fare. It offers internet access for browsing the web, accessing emails, using social media, voice calling, and messaging. The basic plan provides slower browsing speeds and can’t be used for streaming or video chatting. On our Scarlet Lady cruise, we found internet speeds for this package are usually around 1-2 Mbps.
  2.  Premium Voyage WiFi: This package is for passengers who require faster connectivity and the ability to stream music or videos. The Premium WiFi package’s cost depends on the cruise’s length. For example, on our five-night cruise, upgrading to the Premium WiFi plan costs $50 for the entire cruise. You can purchase the WiFi at a discounted price of $40 if you purchase it on the first day of the voyage. You can buy the package on a daily basis at a rate of $15 per day. The Premium WiFi package generally provides speeds of 3-8 Mbps.

The WiFi service can be accessed anywhere on the ship, and there is no need to log in and out while onboard. Simply enter your name and cabin number to connect your device for the cruise. The WiFi is unlimited and can be used on multiple devices, even when upgraded to the faster Internet plan.

Article by

Marcello De Lio

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