Cruise lines are catching up with the fact that having Internet access while on holiday is no longer an afterthought. They are breaking records in Internet connectivity and speeds at sea and rolling out more Internet packages than ever.
Most luxury operators and deluxe line Viking Ocean Cruises offer free unlimited WiFi on board, with Regent Seven Seas is planning to double its Internet broadband capacity fleetwide by 2020.
On other lines, Cruise Passenger found a dizzying array of options with different price tags to cater to different Internet usage levels.
And, of course, an equally dizzying array of speeds and capability.
The majority of the packages allow guests to purchase by the day. So guests could be paying anywhere from $12 on P&O Cruises to $50.74 per day on NCL. That’s a big difference!
Technically, Carnival Cruise Lines has the cheapest daily rate of about $10 per day but lines like Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines require guests to purchase the package for the length of their sailing.
Purchasing Internet access per day can work out to be cheaper overall, as guests can skip the Internet package on days where they will be spending most of their time on shore or when they’re happy to go without.
Meanwhile, lines like P&O Cruises and Cruise & Maritime Voyages package Internet access on board in data blocks. On Cunard, Azamara and Norwegian Cruise Line, guests have the option to purchase it in minutes.
Confused? We’re not surprised…
Buying Internet access in minutes or even by the block might seem like an out-of-date concept, but you might begin to appreciate it when you realise that most lines which charge per day require you to fit yourself in one of three options:
Access to social media exclusively (usually the cheapest)
Access to social media, email and general web browsing
All of the above plus video and music streaming.
If you read the fine print, streaming websites like Netflix, Hulu and Vimeo are not supported even in the most inclusive ‘Premium Package’ on Carnival Cruise Lines.
Let us know in the comments below if you buy an Internet Package when you cruise and if you were able to pick out the right package for you at first go. Or, indeed, if something went wrong.
Here are what the different lines are offering.
Princess Cruises has rolled out “the best WiFi at sea”, the MedallionNet on eight ships in their fleet and will be bringing it on board seven more ships in 2019/20.
The line has yet to announce local pricing for MedallionNet but on ships sailing North America, it can be purchased from US$9.99 ($14.48) a day for unlimited access.
Internet access is also available on all other Princess ships through their wireless network. It is available in all staterooms and public areas and through their 24-hour onboard Internet Cafe.
Guests can access Wi-Fi through wireless-enabled devices, such as laptops, tablets or mobile devices. They offer three different packages locally.
Social costs $14.99 per day and allows access to social websites and applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Also includes WeChat and WhatsApp.
Surf costs $24.99 per day and includes the Social Package plus generic browsing sites, email, news, finance, and sports.
Premium costs $29.99 per day and includes Surf Package plus video streaming YouTube, Skype etc.
If you’re just looking to stay connected with your travel companions on board Princess Cruises also offers a free onboard web and messaging service that has no cellular or data charges. Just connect to the ship’s WiFi and you’ll be able to access Princess@Sea Messenger, stateroom account details, itinerary information and ship venue details.
Platinum and Elite Captain’s Circle members also receive a specified number of internet minutes for free as a loyalty benefit.
Carnival Cruise Lines
The line has three unlimited WiFi packages, which has a pre-purchase price and onboard price. The prices vary very slightly depending on the length of your cruise and the most expensive Premium package will give you access to the fastest available connection speed onboard.
This package gives you access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, SnapChat and the most popular airline websites.
Does not include access to any other websites or apps. In-app calling, FaceTime and iMessage are also not supported.
Prices for a 10-night cruise:
Pre-purchase: $102 ($10.20 per day)
Onboard: $120 ($12 per day)
Provides access to all your sites and apps, including social media, e-mail, news, sports, weather, banking and more.
Prices for a 10-night cruise:
Pre-purchase: $153 ($15.30 per day)
Onboard: $180 ($18 per day)
Access to all websites and apps, including streaming services such as YouTube, Spotify, etc. Provides the fastest possible connection where coverage allows. Torrents, Netflix, Hulu and Vimeo are not supported.
Prices for a 10-night cruise:
Pre-purchase: $221 ($22.10 per day)
Onboard: $260 ($26 per day)
Norwegian Cruise Lines
The line offers four internet packages onboard and guests can save up to 15 per cent when they book the package online before their sailing. Cruises of 13 days and longer are also often offered a lower rate. The internet package is also currently part of their ‘free at sea’ offer where guests can choose five free perks.
Unlimited Social Media WiFi
Access to majority of social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, WeChat, etc.) The package allows you to view, post and upload videos on social media and also chat on all popular messenger platforms but does not include email access or web browsing.
Pre-purchase: US$12.50 per day ($18.13 per day)
Onboard: US$14.99 per day ($21.74 per day)
Unlimited WiFi Package
Access to unlimited web surfing, email access (no VPN), social media access, all apps. Package does not include streaming.
Pre-purchase: US$25.50 per day ($36.98 per day)
Onboard: US$29.99 per day ($43.49 per day)
Unlimited Premium WiFi Package
Access to unlimited web surfing, email access (including VPN), social media access, all apps including streaming via YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Audible, Hulu etc.
Pre-purchase: US$29.50 per day ($42.78 per day)
Onboard: US$34.99 per day ($50.74 per day)
250 Minutes Anytime Internet
This package gives you 250 minutes of Internet connectivity for use anytime during the cruise.
Pre-purchase: US$105 ($152.25)
Onboard: US$125 ($181.25)
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines*
Royal Caribbean calls its internet service VOOM. The prices of their packages do vary depending on promotions, cruise length, number of devices and more so it is only available to those with a booking reference.
They have a surf package, surf and stream package which allows streaming of movies and music, and connection via video chat apps such as Skype, as well as family packages.
10-night New Zealand cruise on Serenade of the Seas, departing November 21, 2020.
Surf: $209.47 ($20.95 per day)
Surf and Stream: $240.98 ($24 per day)
8-night Queensland cruise on Voyager of the Seas, departing December 12, 2019
Surf: $251.37 ($31.42 per day)
Surf and Stream: $307.26 ($38.41 per day)
*Prices are from customer service for specific itineraries and may vary according to your individual cruise
The 60-minute package is US$19.95 ($28.93), the One-day Pass is US$29.95 ($43.43) and the Full Voyage Unlimited is US$19.95 per day ($28.93 per day). The ship also offers In Touch workstations with Internet access onboard.
Holland America Line
Access the most popular social websites and apps.
US$14.99 per day ($21.74)
Surf your favourite sites including email, news, sports and more.
US$24.99 per day ($36.24)
Access to everything in the Social and Surf package including streaming.
US$29.99 per day ($43.49)
Internet is available on all P&O ships the line offers five different packages. Most of their packages have a mix of per cruise and per day charges. The prices also differ for cruises four days and under and longer sailings.
Cruises four days and under:
Platinum Unlimited: $39 per cruise, $29 for first 24hr
Gold Unlimited: $29 per day
Silver Social Unlimited: $24 per cruise
Bronze Social Unlimited: $19 per day
Cruises longer than four days:
Platinum Unlimited: $99 per cruise, $89 for first 24hr
Gold (500MB): $69 per cruise
Silver (250MB): $39 per cruise
Bronze (100MB): $19 per cruise
Social Unlimited: $12 per day
Cruise & Maritime Voyages
CMV offers internet packages on board by blocks of data, starting from 100MB. The Wi-Fi is available in selected public spaces on board, which vary by ship. Most of their ships also have internet equipped computers available in the library of Internet Café.
Marco Polo & Astoria(GBP)
Vasco da Gama
*100MB package not available on Marco Polo or Astoria.
The entire Cunard fleet is WiFi enabled and the Internet minutes are available for purchase pre-cruise and on board. Cunard World Club members also receive complimentary internet time from two to eight hours per voyage.
30 minutes – US$15.00 ($21.75)
120 minutes – US $45.00 ($65.25)
240 minutes – US $80.00 ($116)
480 minutes – US $135.00 ($195.75)
960 minutes – US $220.00 ($319)
1,920 minutes – US $330.00 ($478.50)
Seabourn Cruises is a luxury line but guests have to pay for internet access on board. They offer a pay as you go option, blocks of hours as well as unlimited use packages. The 7-day unlimited is available only on voyages of 7 days or less, while the extended unlimited is available only on voyages longer than 7 days.
The Explorer Dream which is sailing to local waters this summer has three internet options available
24 hours for one device: $43
Connect to the Internet at prime speeds for a continuous 24 hour period.
Full Cruise Standard: $24 per day
Connect to the Internet at basic speeds for e-mail, chat and social media. Allows 2 devices for the whole voyage.
Full Cruise Premium: $32 per day
Connect to the Internet at prime speeds for e-mail, chat, social media and light media streaming. Allows 2 devices for the whole voyage.
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