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Internet on cruise ships: How does the internet work at sea? Which cruise lines have best Wi-Fi?

Author: Susan Johnson

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Internet can seem a bit confusing on a cruise ship. How much is too much to pay? How does it even work? Find out all you need to know with our tips.

Internet on cruise ships was a nice perk in previous times, but now it is a necessity. Today, most people demand internet access on cruise ships, even if they are in the middle of the ocean.

Internet access on cruise ships comes with certain challenges, though. Offering online access to numerous people on the ship is hard, considering the nearest landmass might well be hundreds of miles away. For this reason, you should expect internet connection on cruise ships to be more expensive and slower than your Wi-Fi connection back home.

A lot of major cruise lines offer internet access on cruise ships to let their passengers stay in touch, whether it is for work or just checking on the kids. You will also be able to access social media sites, check email and stream movies in some cases.

So, before you venture out into the middle of the ocean, here are a few things you will want to know about getting internet access on cruise ships.

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How does the internet work on a cruise ship?

The most common mode of offering internet access on cruise ships is through satellite. This means a direct connection with satellite services is offered through hardware installations on the ship. Nevertheless, the internet on cruise ships is nothing compared to the connection you are used to through a DSL.

The speed might often be unsatisfactory, and other problems like the latency of connection can arise in most cases. Additionally, internet access for cruise ships isn’t a cheap option.

- READ MORE: How fast do cruise ships go? Amazing cruising facts and figures -

How much does internet connection on cruise ships cost?

At your home, paying for internet services every month is pretty straightforward. You pay a certain amount every month and connect as many devices as you want to the router. But, things work a bit differently on cruise ships.

The cruise lines offer internet packages on cruise ships for different amounts for different tiers of service. They also charge you based on the number of devices you connect at a single time. For instance, if you connect two devices at once, you will pay twice as much.

That being said, expect to pay a larger sum for internet access on cruise ships than you would pay back home. Listed below are the costs of the internet for some of the major cruise lines below. But in general, expect to pay around £11.04-£14.72 per day for wi-fi access per device.

Choose between Carnival's Social, Value and Premium wi-fi plans. Credit: Shutterstock

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Carnival Cruise Lines

The internet service on Carnival includes three different tiers of service—Social, Value, and Premium Wi-Fi plans. Depending on the plan you choose, the level of access will vary.

Social Plan: Offers access to social media and airline sites, but most of the internet is blocked. It costs £5.88 per day for one device onboard.

Value Plan: Offers access to the internet and is faster than the social plan. It costs £8.83 per day.

Premium Plan: Allows access to the entire internet at triple the speed of the value plan. Depending on the ship you sail, you also be able to stream movies or music. It costs £12.51 per day.

- READ MORE: Carnival Cruise Line reveals Carnival Celebration – what’s onboard? -

A good tip to save money is to purchase your plan before time to save off the rates on the ship.

Royal Caribbean offers "VOOM Internet Service" which is known as "the fastest Internet at sea." Credit: Shutterstock

Royal Caribbean

When it comes to the internet on cruise ships, Royal Caribbean is trying to position itself as the leader. The cruise line’s internet offering “VOOM Internet Service” is known as “the fastest Internet at sea.”

VOOM features two different levels of service at two price points.

- READ MORE: World's largest ship Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas sets sail -

Surf: You can surf your favourite websites, email, social media, and more with this internet connection on the cruise ship. Though the rates vary depending on the ships, it typically ranges at £11.77 per day for the entire cruise or £16.92 for a single day.

Surf + Stream: As the name suggests, this internet package on the cruise ship gives you internet access plus the ability to stream music or movies. It is billed at £14.71 per day for one device and £22.07 for a single day.

If you book ahead of time, you can grab up to 30 percent off the rates you will pay on the ship.

Catch an NCL "Free at Sea" sale for free internet access during your time onboard. Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line

NCL takes an entirely different approach when offering internet access on cruise ships. The cruise line has a popular offering called “Free at Sea” sale that gives passengers free perks with their booking. And one of the best perks is the free internet access on its cruise ships. However, if you fail to book a cruise without the free internet, there are three different levels to choose from.

- READ MORE: Norwegian Cruise Line releases details of new ship Norwegian Prima -

Unlimited Social Media: Charged at £11.03 per day, it offers social media access for the entire cruise. As with other cruise lines, you will be able to grab a discount if you book a package before you sail.

Unlimited Wi-Fi: The plan offers complete internet access, except streaming. It also provides access to email providers. The cost runs at £22.07 per day for a single device.

Unlimited Premium Wi-Fi: If you want to stream Netflix, Hulu, or other services during your journey, then this is the plan for you. Norwegian’s highest-level package, it allows you to stream movies and music at £29.43 per day.

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