For better or worse, the Internet has become a fixture in our daily lives. Whether it be streaming a show, checking email, posting on Facebook, or even texting via Whatsapp, wi-fi has become a necessity more than a perk.
That makes cruises a tricky situation. For some, the break from all things Internet is welcome. For others, they have to have service, whether it be to keep in touch back home, stay up to date on work, or just to relax surfing the web while laying in bed before they go to sleep.
As you might guess, wi-fi in the middle of the ocean is a bit of an undertaking. And while modern cruise ships have it mostly figured out (there are still often complaints of slow service), it is expensive. It’s not unusual to pay up to $15 a day for online service. That adds up to more than $100 in Internet fees alone just for a one-week cruise.
While there are other packages available for cheaper, there’s no getting around that most people will end up spending more than they want to for access to the Internet on a cruise. That said, there are some ways that you can reduce your bill and get service without spending near as much money.
Buy an Internet Package Ahead of Time
After you buy your cruise, you’ll be able to log in to your account and view your reservation. Here you’ll be able to check-in, as well as pre-order things like drink packages, and wi-fi service. Pre-ordering things you know you’ll use on the ship is nice for several reasons. First, you already have them taken care of when you board. If you order a drink package or a wi-fi package, you can start using them right away on embarkation day.
More importantly, cruise lines offer discounts on packages bought ahead of time. This includes Internet service. For example, Norwegian Cruise Lines offers up to 15% off the rates you’ll pay on the ship, just for booking your wi-fi package ahead of time. If you know that you’ll be using the service on the ship, there’s no reason not to book ahead of time and save.
Book an Offer with Free Wi-Fi
Cruise lines know that people like to stay connected on the cruise ship. That’s why you can sometimes find sales where perks — including free wi-fi — are included when you book an offer. This way you don’t have to pay anything for Internet service during your cruise.
Celebrity Cruises, for example, has a “Sail Beyond Event” sale that includes both free drinks and free wi-fi if you book through the offer. Norwegian also offers a similar “perk-based” sale that can give you access to free Internet. If having Internet service is a big deal to you, then booking one of these deals is likely your best way to save.
Wait Until You Are in Port for Free Wi-Fi
It’s not well publicized, but in many ports you can get free wi-fi Internet to connect. Major ports like Cozumel have a number of businesses in the port area, all vying for your attention and dollars. As a perk, some of these places will offer free wi-fi to customers.
Sure it’s not Starbucks where you can sit for hours and work on your novel, but if you want to sit and have a meal at a restaurant offering Internet while you check email and send some pictures back home, it’s the perfect option.
Share an Internet Package
Some cruise lines like Royal Caribbean offer Internet packages that are sold by the person. So if you want to allow one person to connect, it’s less money than if two or three people are able to use the wi-fi at the same time.
In this case, you can save simply by purchasing the package for one device and sharing. If you are just using the Internet to check in on things back home or watching a movie together, then there is no real reason that everyone needs to be connected at once. Simply sharing a login credential allows everyone access on their device, but only one can be connected at any given time.
Buy the Right Level of Wi-Fi Package For You
You’d think that Internet on a cruise ship would be pretty straightforward — buy access and then hop online.
It’s a little more complicated than that. Several cruise lines (including Carnival) have tiers of service. You pay one rate for access to just social media, a higher rate for access to the rest of the Internet, and an even higher rate for access to streaming services like Netflix.
This is a bit of a pain, but it can also save you some money. If you know you don’t care anything about streaming and just want to check in on Facebook, then you can just buy the social package for cheaper.
Bottom line: Before you shell out cash for the deluxe Internet service, be sure that you’re actually going to use it.