Decades ago, accessing the internet was furthest from a cruise travelers’ mind. All you could really think about was the sun, sand, and sea – mingling with family and new friends, or seeing breathtaking sights.
The modern cruiser thinks about all these too. But, of course there’s the occasional need to check your work email, and finish other last-minute online tasks. And there’s that almost undeniable need to update social media accounts.
Now while you may still want to keep your ‘online hours’ at a low and actually enjoy what your cruise adventure has to offer, it helps to know your way around using the internet when you’re onboard.
Here are a few helpful tips for you:
Before anything else, do what you must before going onboard
Going on a cruise is one of the many means we get away from all the hustle and bustle of our lives. Imagine, you’ll get three to five days just getting your fill of family or alone time, meeting new people, seeing amazing places – it’s definitely an adventure to look forward to.
Apart from that though, a cruise also means you have to be away from work and similar affairs for a stretch of days. Make sure to finish your deliverables at most a day before, so you don’t have to stress about them during the duration of your cruise.
Notify concerned individuals on how you can be reached, and make sure that they know you are to be contacted only for the most important matters.
Avail of an internet plan prior to boarding
Do you absolutely need internet access throughout the duration of the cruise? Do you think you’ll be doing more than just the occasional Facebook or email check?
If your answer is a yes, then you might want to include a voyage-long package in your cruise inclusions. They are often discounted, which let you save considerably on internet surfing expenses. These packages can also vary per ship, and may depend on either on megabyte/MB consumption, per minute, or per hour use.
You can also opt to avail a plan that only offers limited access – such as to social media sites and email inboxes, or with the addition of streaming sounds and movies, as well as Facetime and Skype access.
An important note: Make sure your phone’s data access (via your carrier) is turned off! Roaming charges can get really costly – especially if you have to pay for it unexpectedly, on top of the internet package you availed for your cruise.
Know which opportunities and places you can get free or at least faster access
Access to the internet doesn’t always come at a price – they can be availed for free too! BUT, these spots are few, bandwidth may be limited, and signal strength may become sketchy at some point. In-port/Onshore access to the internet is always available, but you do have to wait for when the ship pulls in.
Computer centers are also open to passengers, but also comes with limits. Certain ships though do provide unlimited wireless internet access to up the ante of the luxury experience they offer. All Regent ships for example, offer free unlimited wireless access throughout the ship. Other ships provide free access for a limited time depending on the cabin you have opted to take for the cruise.
Now if you did avail an internet package, you’d want to make the most of it right? Finding the ‘best spots’ where access can be faster may become tricky – as most ships depend on satellite access that are not as stable as your usual land-based connection.
Now how do you find the ideal locations? Ask the ‘regulars’ – and by that, we mean ask the crew. If the ship follows the regular route, then they’ll know where the ideal Wi-Fi spots are.
Plan your access times
Internet on a cruise ship is constantly being improved. Royal Caribbean has launched VOOM, a super fast internet system across all their ships. Norwegian Cruise Line is also greatly enhancing internet speed on theirs.
Generally though, internet access on most cruise ships still leave much to be desired. And it’s either you bear it, or you work your way around it, especially for very important tasks.
Save your social media updates or email checks on less ‘toxic’ times such as very late at night or very early morning when most passengers are either busy partying, or most likely sleeping. This would mean you don’t have to share the allotted bandwidth with so many passengers/internet users.
If you’re working on a document or email, save it as a draft first, and then send it during the best possible time. The same goes for all those fun photos and video clips you want to upload on social media sites.
If it’s not something absolutely important, you can wait ‘til you arrive at port, where more stable internet connections are available. With all the technological advances, it is likely that internet speed and stability on cruise ships will continue to improve.
BUT, don’t let that be the focus of your most anticipated adventure! Enjoy the sun, sounds, and sights of your cruise trip – leave the online needs behind, or at least save them for a later time.