Yes, yes. We should unplug while on holiday. But many passengers like (or need) to stay connected with the rest of the world while on the high seas. The downside is that cruise-ship internet fees can be brutal (and those precious minutes you’re paying for can be whittled away by the speed of internet via satellite). If you want internet access during a cruise, it’s worth seeking out lines that have adopted a more passenger-friendly internet policy.
Seek free internet
Crystal Cruises’ ships Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony offer an hour of free internet access per guest per day, for those staying in a deluxe stateroom or penthouse. Penthouse suite guests receive 90 minutes’ access a day. Previously, free internet was only available to passengers in the line’s loyalty program. Guests can access the internet on their own devices, use one of the shipboard workstations or rent a portable laptop. An hour of free access per guest per day, will also be offered to passengers aboard Crystal Yacht Cruises’ 31-suite Crystal Esprit when the maiden voyage embarks in the Seychelles on December 23, 2015.
Silversea is expanding its offer of free internet to other suite categories from 2016. Each guest on regular ocean voyages receives an hour of internet per day when staying in the vista, terrace or veranda suites; there’s unlimited internet for passengers in Medallion, Silver, Royal, Grand and Owner’s suites. Similarly, the expedition fleet offers either an hour of internet per guest per day or unlimited internet, depending on the suite category.
Check out the speed
Royal Caribbean will become the first mainstream cruise line to offer free internet access in May 2016 when Majesty of the Seas starts cruising from Port Canaveral, Florida to the Bahamas. All passengers can access free, unlimited internet via the company’s high-speed Voom service, which it bills as the fastest at sea and capable of providing video chat, plus movie and music streaming. Voom is also available on the line’s Oasis and Quantum class ships while cruising in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Asia (at a cost of US$15 per device daily).
Weigh up deals
From time to time, cruise lines include an internet package as part of a deal. Sign up for alerts from your favourite lines and regularly check the offers. Once onboard, scrutinise the internet plans. Paying per minute might sound tempting but it’s usually better value to bulk-buy minutes.
Use your minutes wisely
If you’re paying for internet, it helps to minimise your page-loading times. Use a basic email setting and go to the mobile version of favourite websites (mobile pages such as m.yahoo.com load faster than main pages).
The cheapskate section
Those who prefer to wait to pick up free internet once they’re in port are in luck if docking at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal. The Museum of Contemporary Art, just a few steps away from the terminal, offers free wi-fi.
For the less technically inclined
Crystal Cruises offers Computer University@Sea, where you can learn about basic computer operating systems, use of smartphones and other devices, digital photo and video editing, and website design.