Wi-Fi Facility at Sea: Connected Cruising

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Wifi

Continuous internet connectivity at sea is quite a daunting task as bad weather, mountains, and other factors will make web access grind to a halt.

However, with more recent technological development, many cruise lines acknowledge that the provision of good Wi-Fi is as important to some holidaymakers as the customers would expect Wi-Fi facility at places like gourmet restaurant, swimming pool or children’s club.

In a survey conducted by Blue Chip Holidays in  April 2015 with 2109 Britons, 33% responded that Wi-Fi was essential on holiday.

So, efforts are in progress to provide Wi-Fi facility at sea.  Royal Caribbean International led the way when it signed satellite operator O3b Networks for its ship Quantum of the Seas. The vessel launched in 2014 with more bandwidth than every other cruise ship in the world combined.

A fast internet has now been rolled out to all its ships, although they don’t all benefit from the O3b satellite.The company has also changed its Wi-Fi pricing from a per-minute fee, to a much fairer system based on actual data used.

Other cruise lines like Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, and MSC Cruises have also upgraded Wi-Fi provision on board.  However, there is still much room for improvement.

Here is a travel guide for all inclusive cruising

Several companies offer Wi-Fi throughout their ships and information on websites is largely good.  However, prices are still high and connection patchy, especially in cabins.

With such problems, it is always better to use the internet café or reception which are the best places if connectivity is poor.  If internet access is required in the cabin, it is better to keep the cabin doors open.

The website warns that connection on-board is not fast and does not support Skype, VoIP or other high-bandwidth programmes.  A full voyage package costs $30 (£20) a day or  around $9.95 (£6.75) for 15 minutes.

Carnival Cruise Line

Wi-Fi is charged per day.  Choose between Social, Value or Premium, priced $5, $16 and $25 (£3.40, £11, £17), which allow access to social media, surfing and Skype respectively. None supports video streaming.

Celebrity Cruises

The high-speed Xcelerate Wi-Fi is said to offer four times more bandwidth than previously allowing passengers to browse and stream video.  Unlimited use costs from $140 (£97) per person for five to nine days and $199 (£138) for 10 days or more.

Crystal Cruises

One hour of free Wi-Fi per day (90 minutes for those in penthouses) is available.  Otherwise, the cost ranges from $0.74 (56p) a minute for pay as you go to $220 (£167) for a 10-hour package.  Crystal said bandwidth is adequate for social media, email, and internet browsing.

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

Wi-Fi is available in all cabins and public areas.  The company said bandwidth is high enough to stream video and Skype.  Prices from £13 for 30 minutes to £63 for seven days unlimited use.

Holland America Line

Wi-Fi is available in rooms and public areas on all Holland America ships, but bandwidth varies.  It is being replaced by a new [email protected] programme.  Pay as you go costs $0.75 (57p) per minute; packages from $55 (£37) for 100 minutes.

MSC Cruises

New faster Wi-Fi is said to be available throughout all ships but stronger in public hotspots. A seven-day Social Package allowing passengers to post pictures and chat to friends costs from €14.90 (£12).  Surfer and Streamer Packages from €29.90 (£23) and €59.90 (£48) respectively for a week.

Norwegian Cruise Line

A multi-million-dollar SpeedNet Wi-Fi network that will quadruple bandwidths will be across all Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ ships (covers NCL, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises) by the end of July.  Speeds will not be known until it is installed.

Wi-Fi in the world’s largest cruise ships

NCL: from $29.99 per day for up to 12 days; pay as you go is $0.95 per minute.  Norwegian Breakaway alone has Wi-Fi data plans – $59 (£40) for 300MB; $125 (£84) for 1,000MB.

Oceania Cruises:

Free as part of an on-going OLife Select campaign.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises:

Free

P&O Cruises

Wi-Fi is being updated this summer, at which point new packages and prices will be launched. Presently, pay from £30 for 100 minutes. Passengers can surf and post but not stream, and this will not change.

Paul Gauguin Cruises

Bandwidth on Paul Gauguin is 1Mbps, which is fine for email, browsing, and social media. Skype is said to work reasonably well; video streaming is not possible.  From $0.55 (42p) a minute for pay as you go to $29 (£22) per day for unlimited access.  Free for passengers in Owners or Grand Suites.

Princess Cruises

Wi-Fi is available across public areas and cabins on all its ships.  Bandwidths vary but Princess said passengers can surf, post and stream short videos.  Pay as you go costs $0.79 (60p) per minute, packages from $99 (£67) for 200 minutes).

Royal Caribbean International

Voom, Royal Caribbean’s Wi-Fi service, is on all ships.  O3b is on its Quantum and Oasis-class ships, and also Freedom of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas.

Other vessels use a combination of service providers.  Passengers can surf, post and stream music, movies and TV at speeds enjoyed on land.  Surf packages from $12.99 (£10) per device per day ($8.99/£7 for five devices or more).  Surf and stream packages from $17.99 (£13) per device per day ($11.99/£9 for five devices or more).

Saga Cruises

Wi-Fi is free on the company’s two ships.  Each has 1.5Mbps bandwidth, which allows browsing, posting and social media.  Wi-Fi is accessible from all public areas and some cabins.

Seabourn

The website warns that the Wi-Fi is slower and less reliable than on land.  Passengers are requested to refrain from gaming or streaming.  From $0.40 (30p) per minute.  Package prices were not provided.

Cruise wifi internet cafe

Cruise lines tend to offer plenty of information about on-board Wi-Fi, but are often unwilling or unable to reveal bandwidth.  CREDIT: ALAMY

Silversea

Wi-Fi is free for those in Medallion and higher suites.  Passengers in lower category rooms received one hour free per person per day.  From $30 (£20) for one day to $250 (£167) for 1,000 minutes.

Viking Cruises

Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship but can be very slow, and often non-existent, especially in the cabins, which suggests not enough bandwidth.

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Source: The Telegraph

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