How the Internet Access on Cruise Ships Has Evolved Over the Past One and a Half Decade


Norwegian Cruise Line is credited with featuring the first Internet café, thereby making it the first to provide Internet access on cruise ships in 1999. Before that time, cruisers were happy merely to get away from it all, without phones to distract them or websites to interrupt their trip. In fact, when the first Internet Café debuted on the Norwegian Sky, passengers were still not totally familiar with such techno-speak as cloud, server, host or website.

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Slower Connections

However, times indeed have changed as the Internet and web addresses are as ubiquitous as the large cruise ships themselves. Cruisers would undoubtedly be upset if they could not access their cell phone or notebook to check text, emails and use other forms of web-based communications. However, that being said, Internet access on cruise ships, while being commonplace, is rarely offered with the kind of speed of landlubbers’ computers at home.

Internet access on cruise ships can also be somewhat expensive. However, in the near future, improvements will enable ships to offer higher levels of Internet service. At this time, some small expedition ships are utilizing Iridium Open Port technology as a backup approach for Internet-related emergencies or internal use.

Because the satellite system required for the Internet is used all over the world, Internet data can be sent just about anywhere. However, bandwidth does not accommodate ocean-goers as well as it does people who use the Internet onshore.

Some Cruise Lines with Outstanding Internet Service

According to the online publication, Travel Pulse, the cruise lines that provide the best Internet access on ships are Royal Caribbean International, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, Azamara Club Cruises, Silversea, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, Viking Ocean Cruises.

Royal Caribbean continues to test unlimited Wi-Fi on their ship, Quantum of the Seas. The O3b system is designed to increase Internet productivity on the largest ships such as Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas, as well as the Anthem of the Seas.

While it is improbable that free Internet service will be featured on Royal Caribbean ships, Royal is considering the adoption of pricing structures that are less expensive. Their current price per minute is 65 cents per minute, which is still not cost-prohibitive, compared with other cruise vessels.

Regent Seven Seas has increased its Internet access on cruise ships and invested millions in the service to offer free unlimited access to the fleet’s top-tier suites. Guests staying in Penthouse or Concierge class suites receive, on average, 500 minutes free usage.

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Crystal Cruises travelers receive free access for their loyalty. To earn this privilege, passengers must be, at least, on their second cruise to receive a daily hour’s worth of time online.

Azamara Club Cruises provides complimentary minutes on its cruises while Silversea offers Internet access on cruise ships for free on 52 ships of its fleet. The offer includes two free hours of Wi-Fi per guest each day and unlimited service in the ships’ bigger suites.

The Grand Celebration, which was recently acquired by Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, is known to offer the most reasonably priced service at sea while Viking Ocean Cruises provides guests free Internet on their river cruises. However, the service is reportedly unavailable at certain times when the ship is moving. Guests who log in late at night usually receive faster online service. The new branch of Viking will feature 24-hour availability to all cruise passengers.

Some Internet Connection Tips

Cruise ship guests who are closer to an antenna or Wi-Fi access point onboard will experience a better connection. However, because ships often advertise Wi-Fi availability throughout the ship, chances are good you won’t have ideal reception everywhere onboard. For guests who do not bring a laptop or Wi-Fi-capable device, ships frequently offer an Internet kiosk or Internet café for travelers to use.

The most sailing vessels offer Internet access at a rate per minute. However, rates are lower for travelers who buy blocks of minutes. Again, in most cases, Internet connections are usually slow. Therefore, users should avoid downloading big files, watching videos online or uploading files. Any of these activities will eat up your precious Internet time while on-board the ship. Experienced cruisers suggest using the Internet either late in the evening or in the early morning for faster Access.

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