Everything to Know About Internet on a Cruise (Speed, Cost, & More)

It wasn’t that long ago that having internet access at sea was a nice perk, but hardly a necessity. Today, most people must have wi-fi — even if they are on a cruise in the middle of the ocean. In fact, we always sign up for service every time that we sail.

Speed test for internet on a cruise
Wi-fi is widely available across any cruise. Below, we cover everything from connection speed to cost and much more.

Of course, there are challenges to providing online access for thousands of people on a cruise ship that can be hundreds of miles of miles from the nearest land. That’s why in general you should expect the service on a cruise ship to be more expensive — and slower — than what you’d find back home.

Still, all cruise lines now provide wi-fi on their ships so that you can stay in touch whether it be for work or just checking in on the kids. You can also access social media sites, check email, and even stream movies in some cases.

But before you head out into the middle of the ocean, there’s likely a few things you’ll want to know about getting online on a cruise. We’ve answered some of the biggest questions so that you know what to expect once you board your ship.

How Much Does Internet Cost on a Cruise?

Plan on spending about $20-$30 a day for wi-fi service on a cruise, though some lines like Celebrity include it in special fares.

At your home, things are pretty simple. You pay one amount for your internet service and connect as many devices as you want — and they all have access to the full internet.

On a cruise, things are a little different. The cruise lines charge different amounts for different tiers of service. They also charge based on the number of devices used at one time. So if you want to connect two devices at once (such as a husband and wife both surfing the internet), then you’ll pay twice as much.

All that said, expect the price of service on a cruise to be much more than you pay back home. We’ve rounded up the costs of internet for several major cruise lines below.

In general, expect to pay about $20-30 per day, per device for wi-fi access.

Carnival offers three different tiers of service: Social, Value, and Premium wi-fi plans. Each offers different levels of access to the internet. One tip to save money: purchase your plan ahead of time to save off the rates on the ship.

Social Plan: Carnival’s Social plan offers access to social media sites, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and airline sites. However, most of the internet (such as email and news websites) are blocked. You also can’t stream music or movies. The cost is $18 per day for one device once you are on the ship.

Value Plan: The Value plan offers access to much of the internet, including websites for news, weather, sports, and most importantly — email. The service is also faster than the Social plan. For the extra access, you’ll pay $23 per day if you wait to purchase once you are on the ship.

Premium Plan: If you want the entire internet and you want the fastest speeds on Carnival, the the Premium plan is ideal. It offers full access at triple the speed of the Value plan. Depending on which ship you sail, streaming might be available. (Streaming is often provided on newer ships.) The Premium plan costs $25 per day. 

Royal Caribbean
When it comes to internet on a cruise, Royal Caribbean is trying to position itself as a leader. The cruise line offers VOOM internet service, which it bills as “the fastest internet at sea.” If booked ahead of time, you can get up to 30% off the rates you’ll pay on the ship.

Surf + Stream: This package offers internet access, including the ability to stream music or movies. On a recent cruise the rate was $23.99 per day for one device when purchased on the ship. The cost was $29.99 if purchased for a single day only. Rates are considerably cheaper when booking ahead of time.

Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian offers a different take on internet access. That’s because the cruise line has a popular “Free at Sea” sale that allows passengers to get free perks with their booking. One perk is internet access. Still, if you book a cruise without the free internet, you have three different levels of service you can purchase.

Unlimited Wi-Fi: This plan provides full internet access, outside of streaming. It also includes access to email providers, social media, and more. The cost runs $29.99 per day for one device.

Unlimited Premium Wi-Fi: Want to stream Netflix, Hulu or other services? Then you’ll need Norwegian’s highest-level package. It allows streaming movies and music and costs $39.99 per day if purchased on the ship.

Norwegian also offers a packages of minutes of access. 

Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Cruises offers wi-fi service to its passengers across the fleet. Like sister cruise line Royal Caribbean, Celebrity now offers one level of service known as the Premium Wi-Fi Package.

This services includes full access to the web and streaming movies and music. While Celebrity doesn’t list costs publicly on their website, the rate for an upcoming cruise was seen $30 per day for one device, with a 20% discount if booking ahead of time.

One thing to know is that Celebrity trips often have a “Always Included” deal. With this offer, drinks and wi-fi service are already included in your fare.

Princess Cruises
Princess offers service known as MedallionNet, which is dubs “The Best Wi-Fi at Sea.” The cruise line says that it can reach speeds “often eclipsing 100 Mbps,” which is faster than the average broadband speed on land.

The service is available starting at $24.99 per day for one device when purchased before the cruise.

Like Celebrity, Princess also has special fares with things like drink packages, gratuities, and wi-fi already included. In other words, you may have to pay nothing extra for service if you book one of these deals.

Other Cruise Lines
If your cruise line isn’t listed above, that’s ok. Most lines have prices that vary based on the level of service, but most are in the $20-30 range for one device.

Additional devices are usually in the $15-$20 range.

How Fast Is Internet on a Cruise?

Expecting to have blazing fast internet on the ship like you would back at home? Well, it’s time to lower your expectations a little bit before you get online. While the cruise lines love to boast about the speed of their service, the actual speeds you see can vary.

We’ve been on ships with blazing fast connections and others that have been insufferably slow.

In our tests across different cruise lines, the speed of service has varied widely, but seems most consistently in the 3-5 Mbps range. That said, we’ve been on cruises with speeds in the 1 Mbps range and some that approached 60 Mbps.

Bottom line, it’s tough to say exactly what sort of speed you will experience. That said, with the introduction of Starlink (a satellite internet provider) across many lines, speeds do seem to be trending upward.

Download speeds in the 3-5 Mbps range are common on a cruise, but sometimes it might be a little faster or slower.

For lower-tier plans that are less expensive, expect the speed to be slower.

In other words, while you may find service is more than fast enough to meet your needs, be prepared for the possibility of slower speeds than you are used to.

Can I Post to Facebook, Instagram or Other Social Media Sites?

Absolutely. In fact, the cheapest plans usually have access only to the social media sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Snap, Instagram and more. If this is the main way you keep in touch with people back home, then it’s a cheap way to stay connected.

Even so, don’t expect the service to be blazing fast. You’ll have access but will still deal with the slower service you often find at sea.

Can I Stream Movies or Music on a Cruise?

Higher-end packages often allow streaming services, such as Netflix.

Usually you can stream, however there are some caveats. First, you must purchase a plan that allows streaming. Many cruise lines offer lower tiers of service that are less expensive, but do not offer streaming capabilities. Those packages offering streaming are higher-priced.

Second, given the internet speed, you could see some lagging or lower-quality pictures. Many reports from users complain about streaming troubles. We’ve personally have had issues as well in tests we’ve done on cruises. Other times, it’s streamed perfectly.

There can be some hiccups. For example, a show might stream well for a while and then suddenly have a pixelated picture or pause while data loads.

Bottom line: Yes, you can stream while on a cruise, but don’t be surprised if there are times where it doesn’t work as well. If you want to watch a show, we think it’s a better idea to download it before you arrive on the ship. That way you don’t have to rely on internet access to watch.

Can I Use the Wi-Fi to Call or Message With My Phone?

Cell service is provided on the ship at sea, but it can be expensive. A much easier thing to do is simply use the ship’s wi-fi to send messages and even make calls.

Depending on your phone, it may be easiest to use a messaging app like WhatsApp. We’ve noticed that the iMessage service on iPhones seems to work well to send messages to other iPhones, but doesn’t easily text Android users over the wi-fi. Services like WhatsApp work with no issues.

As well, you can setup your phone to call over wi-fi or call through a communication app. Either way, you can use the ship’s wi-fi to keep in touch.

Are There Data Caps on the Plans?

Want to stream videos (like from our YouTube channel) on your cruise? Fortunately, there are no data caps to worry about.

Most of the cruise line plans these days are “unlimited” plans that don’t put a cap on your data. 

That said, we wouldn’t push it by trying to download the Lord of the Rings trilogy. First of all, it would take forever at the connection speeds. Beyond that, the internet is being provided by satellite for thousands of passengers at any given time. It’s likely that you would be asked about using such a massive amount of data.

If you’re doing what the service is designed for — streaming shows, checking email, etc. — you likely won’t be running into issues. But if you are using a ton of data, you might be asked about what’s going on.

Do I Have to Buy Internet for Every Day of the Cruise?

When we mentioned pricing above, you noticed that it was on a per-day basis. Most plans are sold this way (similar to drink packages). You pay a set amount per day, and the plan is purchased for the entire cruise. So if it’s $20 per day, you’ll pay $140 for a seven-day cruise. This gives you access for the whole trip.

But what if you want to only occasionally check email or post to Facebook? In that case, the cruise lines usually sell a smaller package. It can either be a 24-hour pass (unlimited access for 24 consecutive hours) or a number of minutes to access the web. 

This allows you online access without the cost of paying for service during the entire cruise.

Are Websites Blocked or Filtered?

As you might expect, there is some blocking and filtering of websites while on the ship’s wi-fi. Of course, if you buy a lower-tier plan that doesn’t allow full access to the internet (such as Carnival’s Social plan) then you won’t be able to access the full internet. Even if you do have full online access, you can still expect some content filtering.

For most people this will never be an issue. However, if you are trying to look at pages with adult themes, then you’ll likely find you’re unable to connect. For example, Carnival says that “access to certain sites such as mature or violent content is blocked” over their network.

In other words, expect to use the internet like you would at your local library. You’ll be able to access everything you need… but maybe not everything you want.

Can I Use a VPN on the Cruise Ship?

Many people use a VPN in order to access their work privately. Unfortunately, these don’t always work on a cruise.

Carnival, for instance, has stated clearly in the past that “VPN connections are not supported” on their network. Royal Caribbean doesn’t explicitly state one way or the other, but we’ve seen several reports that using a VPN can be hit or miss for passengers. In our experience, using a VPN led to some interruption in the connection.

Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) is one of the few we’ve found that explicitly says they will let you access via a VPN. If you purchase their Unlimited Premium package, you are allowed access using one. Lower-tier packages do not allow VPN access.

In other words, unless you are sailing on Norwegian, then you should just assume you can’t access with a virtual private network. You might get lucky and be able to, but chances are slim.

Cruise Internet Seems Expensive, How Can I Save Money?

You are right that getting online access is pricey on a cruise. The good news is that there are ways you can save. We’ve covered them in more detail here, but here are some ideas:

Book a Cruise With Free Internet as a Perk
Norwegian, Celebrity, Princess and other lines have started to offer sales that provide free perks for cruising. One of those perks is usually free wi-fi during your cruise. Book one of these and you don’t have to worry about the cost of access. It’s already included in your fare.

Wait Until You’re in Port to Get Online
If you don’t need access every day, there’s a free way to get service: wait until you get to port. In many cruise ports there are stores or restaurants that offer free wi-fi to customers. You can sit down, have a bite to eat, and check email, etc. Now you might not be able to spend all day loitering while you watch a movie on your phone, but it’s a good way to check your email for free.

Pay For a Smaller Package
While the internet is most widely sold in a package that lasts the length of your cruise, there are options for smaller amounts of time. Head to the ship’s internet Café and you’ll find that you can access the internet by the minute. It can be pricey on a per-minute basis, but still much cheaper than buying a package for the length of the cruise.

Buy Ahead of Time
Want to save? Book ahead of time. Cruise lines offer discounts to passengers who buy the service before they sail. This discount can be significant — often 10-20% off the price of booking onboard.

It won’t make the service “cheap,” but it can take the sting off the high price tag.

Share a Connection
Internet plans on cruise ships charge per device. So if you want to have two devices connected at once, then it’s double the cost. However, they also allow you to share a connection. 

Say you have a wi-fi package with one device. Once a person is done with it, then another person can login to that account and access the internet from their own device. So a husband can hop online to check email on his laptop, and then a wife can login later to surf the web on her phone without paying for an extra device. It’s just that only one device at a time is allowed.

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Everything to Know About Internet on a Cruise (Speed, Cost, & More)


  1. I am going on the Silver Dawn in Dec 23 I have discovered that it is the only ship in the Silver Seas brand that doesn’t have a contract with ATT. I really need to be able to receive and make phone calls on a 10 day caribbean cruise. You mentioned What’s APP Unless the person I am calling has What’s APP can I still receive /call this person.

    • Hi Vickie, in the Caribbean we use whatsapp a lot instead of texts so most persons have whatsapp. The catch is both persons need to have whatsapp for the features to work for whatsapp calls or whatsapp video as it’s using voip. You will still need an internet service to use whatsapp . It doesn’t work like regular phone calls in that sense so you would have to tell people in advance call me via whatsapp call during this period. Hope this helps .


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