Internet and mobile phone use on a cruise

Internet and mobile phone use on a cruise

How to keep in touch with friends back home aboard a cruise ship?

Aboard a cruise ship you can use the internet and your mobile phone. However, communication at open sea is different than on land. There are a few important things to keep in mind. During your cruise holiday you spend a lot of time on land where the usual means of communication are available to you. But how is it aboard a cruise ship on the high seas?

Internet on a cruise

Most cruise lines offer internet onboard their ships. You can go to an internet café or you can use wireless internet (wifi) on which you can connect your laptop, smartphone, tablet PC or any other device with a wifi connection.

But who thinks you can use the internet during a cruise holiday the same way as at home is wrong. The internet connection on board a cruise ship is much slower and less efficient than on land. All this has to do with technology. The initial connection on open sea is made via satellite which makes it (extremely) expensive. Rates between $30 and $50 per hour for a slow connection are not unusual.

It was actually Norwegian Cruise Line who offered the first internet cafe aboard the Norwegian Sky. In 1999 this was revolutionary. Nowadays it’s normal.

Mobile phone on a cruise

You can make use of your mobile phone on the high seas, but the same principle applies. Once your mobile connection is cut off from land you switch to satellite coming with a heavy price tag.

Money saving tips on your cruise

Here are some tips to keep your communication budget under control during your cruise holiday:

  • Limit your internet use to an absolute minimum and avoid downloading large files. Work as many offline and use the internet only to receive and send messages and switch offline immediately afterwards.
  • If you want to use the internet frequently you may consider buying a package. Cruise lines offer packages for several hours at a reduced rate, but it remains relatively expensive.
  • Avoid peak times. Use the internet early in the morning, during the day when most passengers are of board or late at night. The fewer users, the faster the internet.
  • Turn your mobile phone off or switch to "airplane mode". If you receive a call or SMS on the high seas, you pay extra for the satellite connection.
  • In many cruise terminals you can get free or use low-cost internet. Ask the staff for good locations. They also use it a lot to contact their family and friends back home.
  • When using your mobile phone ashore the roaming charges from your service provider are applicable. Check in advance the tariffs and rates.