Bahamas Destination to Offer Free WiFi For Cruise Passengers

The implementation of “smart city” infrastructure will allow Nassau to offer free WiFi to cruise passengers by summer of 2024.

One popular Bahamas cruise port is undergoing some “smart” upgrades over the next few months to deliver a better, more connected experience for cruise passengers. Expected to begin during the second quarter of 2024, cruise passengers will get to enjoy free high-speed internet during their port calls. 

Nassau to Become “Smart City Pilot” In the Caribbean 

Already one of the most popular cruise destinations, Nassau, Bahamas has set its sights on becoming the ‘Center of Innovation for the Caribbean’ in recent years. The next step in its plan is to improve technology on the island, something which tourism officials are eagerly investing in. 

As one of many projects stemming from a competition called Innovate242, which is designed to bring entrepreneurs, researchers, and business leaders together to solve tech-related challenges in the Bahamas, Nassau will be outfitted with high-speed WiFi for guests to use throughout the port as a “smart city pilot.”

The installation began on February 14, 2024, with plans to have WiFi available at the cruise port at some point during the second quarter of the year. The service will be free and is expected to extend as far west as Arawak Cay and as far east as the Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge. 

According to Nassau officials, the WiFi installation will be a win-win. The local tourism sector will be able to collect data from the roughly 12,000 cruise guests that visit each day to better market to them while also improving their experiences in the port – and of course, visitors get to use the WiFi for free.

“The tripartite collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation, Aliv/Cable Bahamas and the Department of Information and Communications Technology brings about the installation of the most up-to-date internet infrastructure in our city center,” said the Hon. I. Chester Cooper, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments & Aviation.

Cruise Ships Docked in Nassau, Bahamas
Cruise Ships Docked in Nassau, Bahamas (Photo Courtesy: Nassau Cruise Port)

“This technology will facilitate seamless connectivity that will allow us to collect key data on the thousands of cruise guests to our city, so that we can more efficiently enhance their experience of our city,” added Deputy Prime Minister Cooper. 

The access to free WiFi in port is also a nice break for passengers, as WiFi on board cruise ships can be expensive and slow. Depending on the cruise line, internet packages can range from $7 (USD) per day to $89. Princess Cruises, for example, recently raised its premium WiFi package prices from $60 per day to $80

Cruise ship WiFi is also notoriously slow, but is improving as more and more cruise companies switch over to Starlink Maritime, a program from SpaceX that provides faster internet using satellites that orbit Earth in outer space. That said, the faster coverage isn’t available everywhere (Alaska, Sweden, Finland, and Norway are excluded, for example) and not all ships are equipped with Starlink just yet. 

Nassau Makes Big Improvements To Cruise Port

Installing free WiFi is only one step in Nassau’s plan to boost cruise tourism on the island. In fact, the Bahamas destination has already spent four years and $300 million renovating the cruise port

The rejuvenated port, which had its grand opening on May 26, 2023, boasted expanded cruise facilities – featuring a brand new berth and newly refurbished piers, allowing the port to accommodate up to six cruise ships at a time – including extra large vessels like Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas.

Cruise Ships in Nassau, Bahamas
Cruise Ships in Nassau, Bahamas

Looking more closely at the numbers, the increased capacity at the cruise port means the island can welcome 10,000 additional cruise passengers per day, going from a maximum capacity of around 20,000 guests to 30,000. 

Read Also: All-Inclusive Cruises – What You Need to Know

Additional enhancements, aside from the WiFi, are also in the works for 2024. While phase 1 of Nassau’s improvement plan focused on accommodating more and larger cruise ships, phase 2 is more focused on improving the experience on land. For example, a new signature restaurant and several other family-friendly attractions are also scheduled to be completed in 2024. 

So far, Nassau’s efforts have been paying off – with more growth expected in 2024. The Bahamian island welcomed nearly 4.5 million cruisers in 2023, a new annual record. It also set the highest one-day visitor record on December 27, 2023 with 29,316 passengers in port – surpassing the previous high of 28,554 passengers on February 27, 2023. 

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