Taking a world cruise is a wonderful way to disconnect from daily life: you can truly relax, refresh and rejuvenate while being blissfully out of touch with home and office. In fact, a world cruise used to provide no choice but to unplug from daily life, because ships didn’t offer Internet connectivity.
Whether you consider it good news or bad, ship-to-shore communications have come a long way in the past few years. Most cruise ships are now fully equipped for wireless communications, with onboard Internet cafes, WiFi hot spots and cell phone service: world cruise lines that offer shipwide Wi-Fi access include:
- Oceania Cruises
- Crystal Cruises
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises
You can still choose to leave your smartphones, tablets and laptop computers at home. But, if you do want to connect with friends and family, check your email now and then, or post photos from your cruise to your favorite social media sites, here are some things to know about staying connected while sailing the world.With few exceptions, Internet access on the ship won’t be free. Internet access at sea is made possible by satellite, and that’s expensive. Fees can add up fast if you don’t carefully control your Internet usage while onboard. The average cost of Internet access on a cruise ship is about 75 cents a minute, although most cruise lines offer discounted package pricing for 60 minutes of access or more. Some ships charge by the megabyte instead of the minute, and offer package pricing, too.
If you want to do some writing while on board, bring your own device. You can use the computer workstations in the ship’s Internet café to send emails or post to Facebook, but they usually don’t offer word-processing programs like Microsoft Word or Notepad. If you want to keep a journal or need to work on other documents during your cruise, bring your own notebook or laptop computer along.
You’ll need to be patient: the ship’s Internet service won’t have the speed or strength you’re used to on land. Satellite Internet service is getting better all the time, but the speed will lag compared to your service at home. Speed can also be affected by the number of passengers using the Internet at a given time. If you need a faster connection, try accessing the internet at dinner time, late at night or when most passengers have gone onshore.
Some cruise lines block the use of Skype, FaceTime and other providers of audio and video chat services in order to keep speeds up. These applications tend to use up a majority of the ship’s data bandwidth, resulting in extremely slow connections for everyone.
Internet access may be unavailable at times, such as when tall buildings or mountain peaks around a harbor block satellite signals (hopefully, you’ll be up on the deck enjoying the view, rather than trying to get a connection). If you really get desperate, take your smartphone or computer on shore and find a Wi-Fi hotspot where you can connect.
Cell phone use on a cruise ship can get expensive very quickly. Whether you use your cellphone to make calls, check email or browse the Internet, you’ll be subject to charges from the ship’s satellite provider and from your cell phone provider, including roaming fees. To keep costs down, put your phone into airplane mode, which will prevent incoming text messages and roaming charges.
Finally, if you do want to take your electronics on your idyllic world cruise, don’t forget to pack your power cords and chargers!