Reviewed: Carnival Cruise Wi-Fi Service (Speed, Reliability, Cost, and More)

Not that long ago, Internet on a cruise was largely a luxury. While someone might buy access to be able to work remotely from the ship or buy a few minutes to check email, broad access by many people on the ship wasn’t common.

Internet wi-fi-access on a Carnival cruise
We recently tested wi-fi access while on a Carnival cruise — including streaming YouTube. Here’s what you need to know.

What a difference a few years can make. Now, having wi-fi access is nearly a necessity. Not only does it give you a chance to check in back home and keep tabs on your email or the office while you’re away, but it also allows you to post those nice pictures of yourself having fun onto social media, watch movies in the cabin, listen to music, and even check-in for flights when heading home after the trip.

It’s no exaggeration that Internet access has gone from a luxury to a must-have.

The good news is that cruise lines — including Carnival — offer wi-fi access across their fleets. Whether you want to hook up to the Internet with your laptop or post to Facebook from your phone, you can get service anywhere on the ship on any device.

That said, wi-fi access is not free, nor is it as quick as you are used to back on land. It is still a challenge to get access while hundreds of miles in the middle of the water. So what can you expect? We recently put Carnival’s Internet access through the paces to give you all the details on what we experienced with the service.

What Wi-Fi Packages Are Available on Carnival?

Like other cruise lines, Carnival offers different tiers of service, all at different price points. Each tier offers different access, from just being able to login to social media, all the way to full web access at faster speeds. Here’s a run-down of what’s offered:

Social Plan: Gives access to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, WhatsApp, and Snapchat, along with airline websites. However, it doesn’t include most websites (including email), streaming, or wi-fi calling, FaceTime or iMessage.

Value Plan: Gives email access, what’s included in the social plan, as well as broad access to the rest of the web — all at faster speeds than the Social plan. However, Carnival says it still doesn’t support video/music streaming, FaceTime, or wi-fi calling.

Premium Plan: Carnival’s highest tier of service, it offers everything in the other two tiers, with faster speeds (Carnival says up to three times faster than the value plan). It also allows Netflix, giving you the ability to stream shows. However, the cruise line says it doesn’t support video or music streaming with other services like Hulu. (See below for more details — including our experience — on streaming).

How Much Does Wi-Fi Access Cost on Carnival?

What you pay for access will depend on when you purchase and how long you want access. Typically, Internet access is sold for the length of the entire cruise based on a per-day cost. There is a discount if you buy service before the cruise compared to the onboard price

The prices below are what’s seen on Carnival’s website as of now:

Price list for Carnival wi-fi service

How Do You Access the Internet Once on the Ship?

The sign-in process is fairly straightforward, but there were some hiccups here and there. Sometimes logging in took a few tries to gain access.

  1. Open up your wi-fi connection settings and connect to the ship’s service. In our case, it was named “Carnival Celebration Wi-Fi” or something similar.
  2. Open up a browser and go to “”
  3. Enter your folio number and birthdate, and click “Log In”
  4. Click “Confirm” on the next screen to enable access.

At this point you should be connected and can then surf the web as normal.

How Fast Is Carnival’s Wi-Fi Service?

For our cruises, we’ve tested the fastest Premium plan of service. Doing multiple speed tests across cruises, it seems to show speeds between 6-12 Mbps. On this specific test, it returned a ping of 680 ms, a download speed of 9.09 Mbps, and an upload speed of 2.64 Mbps: 

Wi-fi speed on Carnival cruise
Our speed test showed a high ping, but relatively decent download speeds. In general, the highest-tier service seems to offer speeds between 6-12 Mbps.

Those numbers likely mean little to most people, but for a cruise ship, they are pretty good. (Keep in mind, however, that speed will vary. We’ve been on other ships with slower speeds or in locations where speeds are slower.)

In layman’s terms, surfing the web did seem sluggish. There were times when the connection seemed faster than others, but you wouldn’t confuse the speed with broadband you have at home or the office. Sites would load, but took their time.

For instance, visiting YouTube took about 10 seconds before video thumbnails started to load. A visit to brought up the text headlines relatively quickly, but images were delayed.

If you had to use the connection every day to surf, it would be slow by modern standards. It definitely took some time to load images onto posts for when we live-blogged the cruise. Using the wi-fi here and there to check the news or email, however, was just fine.

Do I Have to Buy Access For Every Device? Can I Share Access?

Switching devices on Internet plan
You can switch between devices to access the Internet with a single account.

It’s likely you’re traveling with other people that want access to the Internet. In that case you have two options. First, you can buy more than one package, giving access to multiple devices at once. Or, you can simply share access on different devices.

Carnival allows you to login to the wi-fi from separate devices, but you can only use one device at a time. So one person could connect with the wi-fi on a laptop and when finished, another person could login to have access on their phone. If you don’t need access every moment of the day, it’s an easy way to save some money by sharing.

To transfer access between devices, you simply follow the login procedures as normal. It will notify you that the account is already in use and ask if you want to switch devices. Simply confirm the switch and you’re good to go on the second device.

Can I Stream Movies/TV on Carnival’s Wi-Fi?

Streaming while on a cruise
We were able to stream Amazon Prime with the Premium plan despite is supposedly not being supported. Other apps, however, hit some obstacles.

Whether you can stream on your cruise may be hard to say. Here’s the issue: Carnival says that its fastest Premium plan supports Netflix, but not other video/music streaming services. 

Our experience, however, is that you can actually stream at least some of those services that are supposedly no supported.

During one cruise aboard Carnival Vista, for instance, we were able to access and watch YouTube videos. We also streamed Amazon Prime videos multiple times with no issues. The picture was nice, and there was minimal buffering. When trying to stream Showtime, however, we encountered an error and weren’t able to watch.

Bottom line is that yes, you can stream in at least some cases. The better option, however, is to go ahead and download any shows you want to watch ahead of time. That way you don’t have to worry about wi-fi service at all. Even if you are able to stream, there might be points where a slow connection makes the show appear choppy or pixelated. Downloading before boarding makes this a non-issue.

Can I Make FaceTime Calls on the Wi-Fi?

Yes. On our trip we tested FaceTime calls from an iPhone with the Premium plan. There were no issues connecting. The call quality itself was so-so. We were able to talk, but there were some times where the image was blurry or froze for a few seconds. Audio had no issues.

Bottom line: FaceTime was able to be used, even though Carnival says on its website that it’s not supported.

Can I Text Message Over Carnival’s Wi-Fi?

For most of us, we message a lot more than we actually make calls on our phone. In this case, during our tests we noticed that texting iPhone to iPhone seemed to work with no problems. We were able to send and receive messages when connected to wi-fi, including messages with pictures.

However, when messaging to an Android phone, our messages had trouble going through. In the end, we ended up just emailing the person we were trying to text as we couldn’t send the text. (This might also have been due to settings on our phone, which is possible.)

In that case, messaging apps like WhatsApp might be a better option. We didn’t test any messaging apps on our cruise, but they are specifically mentioned by Carnival as being supported on its wi-fi service.

Do I Have to Buy Wi-Fi Access to Use Carnival’s HUB App?

If you’re about to sail, you’ve likely seen mention of downloading the HUB app to use on the ship. This app is extremely useful on the cruise, and you can use it to access everything from dinner menus to ship maps to tracking your onboard spending account.

The good news if that you don’t have to purchase wi-fi access to use the app. All the features can be used without buying an Internet plan. You are able to connect and get data from the app at no cost.

Can I Use a VPN?

Some people need to use a virtual private network (VPN) when working or simply use one for more privacy online. While we didn’t specifically test out a VPN while sailing, Carnival says they do not support VPNs on their ships.

According to the FAQ on their website: “VPN connections are not supported. Discuss your VPN limitations with your company’s IT department if you are planning to work while sailing. We are not able to change your settings on board.”

Can I Work or Do School Work With the Wi-Fi?

Of course, one major reason to sign up for Internet is to be able to work from the ship. These days, many people opt to take a “working cruise” and enjoy themselves while also being able to complete work back home. So is that possible on a Carnival cruise?

In our opinion, it depends on the type of work or school work you’re doing. Have something where you need to be live on Zoom with perfect clarity and reception? That might be tough to manage. Need to make an informal video call? That should be fine. Simply need Internet access to access documents, submit an assignment, or send some emails? That’s no issue at all.

In other words, access to work that requires a reliably fast and solid connection could have issues (you are at sea, after all). However, less-intensive tasks should be perfectly feasible.

Is Carnival’s Wi-Fi Worth It?

For a 7-day cruise, you’ll pay about $150 for the Premium plan — or nearly $22 a day. That’s a sharp price to pay for online access. So is it worth it?

In our eyes, it depends on what you need access for. If you simply want to stay connected, check email occasionally and text some friends, then paying that much seems too high to us (that’s where the cheaper Social and Value plans are nice). However, if you have work obligations or things going on back home that you simply can’t miss, then by all means, hop online.

One thing to note is that many ports of calls offer wi-fi service in some shape or form. There may be restaurants that offer wi-fi to customers or ports of call that offer access for a cheaper fee than what’s on the ship. You can also access the Internet with a day-pass so you don’t have to pay for access the entire week.

This way, you can still stay in touch back home without spending as much money.

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  1. does wireless travel router work on carnival ?

    i was on rcl’s symphony and worked just fine. all my fam were able to connect


  2. My work laptop doesn’t connect directly to cruise wifi but if I don’t through a router or create my own wifi hotspot through phone then it works. Google pixel phones can turn cruise and airplane wifi into hotspot similar to travel wifi. I have shared plane wifi with family member by turning hotspot on and same can be done on cruises.

  3. This response is solely related to internet on Carnival cruise ships…

    I suspect Tanner has taken one Carnival cruise and thinks his experience is the norm for all Carnival ships. The article is missing a fleetwide perspective. Some of the information is useful, but some of it is not so good.

    Yes, Carnival has invested in improving its internet experience on its newer ships, however the older ships still have the worst in the industry bandwidth. The Carnival Vista is one of their newer ships, so it will have faster internet. I have had decent internet on the Carnival Vista, Horizon, and Mardi Gras. I expect the same on the Celebration when I sail in 2023. These are all newer ships. My experience on 14 other Carnival ships was less than enjoyable. Granted some of my earlier cruises were before smartphones were a thing. And as mentioned, they are making improvements. Those improvements are obviously a work in progress.

    That said, I must concur with Jon about the Carnival Paradise. I have been on that ship 4 times in 2022, and internet is dismal. Don’t expect to be able to stream video. Lily didn’t mention which ship she was on, but I suspect it was one of the smaller and older ships.

    The most useful advice I can share is about when to purchase an internet plan for an upcoming Carnival cruise. If it is a newer ship, I suggest buying in advance to save 10% or 20% (depending on the current offer). If it is a older ship, wait until you are on the boat. Yes, you will pay full price. If the internet is usable, you will soon forget about the higher cost. However, if internet is unusable, head to the guest services midway through the cruise (or whenever you see short lines). Make your complaint, and it is very likely they will refund a portion of your internet plan, in my experience typically 50%. This is only an option if purchase the plan while on the ship. If you prepaid for the plan, you will need to complain to customer service when back on land. Getting any type of refund from in this case is hit or miss, usually miss.

    One final piece of advice on internet. Based on where you are at on the boat can affect the signal you have. The closer you are to a wifi access point, the better the signal. On the smaller boats, the closer you are to the middle of the ship, the better signal strength. Larger boats have more wifi access points. Don’t confused signal strength with bandwidth. I try to book aft view balcony rooms, signal strength is not very good there.

    The nice thing about cruise ships is there are lots of places to sit and do your surfing. That is, if there is sufficient bandwidth to do so. Just bring a headset so you don’t annoy others.

    • “I suspect Tanner has taken one Carnival cruise and thinks his experience is the norm for all Carnival ships.”

      Incorrect. In the past few months, I’ve sailed both the oldest (Ecstasy before it was retired) and newest (Celebration) Carnival ships. Celebration did have faster internet ~10-12 Mbps, but Ecstasy was still a solid 5-7 Mbps during my test. Vista, covered in the article was ~9 Mbps. So yes, there seems to be a correlation between faster service on newer ships, but I still found the service on the oldest ship to be solid.

  4. My experience on a recent Falll 2022 Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Paradise was vastly different than yours. For most of the cruise, the Internet was not available. Wifi and their internal Mobile App worked and I could check in to restaurants etc; just couldn’t access the Internet. One time while in Port at Roatan I experienced 10MBS Down and 2MB Up for a few hours then Internet disappeared again from their WiFi. A few times while cruising when Internet access did work, I was experiencing 178KBPS Down!!
    Small Pic uploads to facebook either took 20 minutes or longer or would often time-out. I had the so-called “Premium Plan”. I called Guest services 4 times and hung up after 25 minute wait/hold times. I transferred my WiFi to another device thinking there could have been an issue with one of my devices but I experienced the same sad performance. I used the Post-Cruise Survey to relay my sad WiFi experience. I will never again purchase their expensive WiFi again.

  5. I just got off a Carnival cruise, had “premium” internet – and on the first night, they changed their network configuration and I was suddenly unable to connect to my work. I begged them for five days to please fix their network – it was definitely their network, as I got the same error from three different clients on two machines we had with us – and the error would have been easy for them to correct – but they refused to even discuss it. I was told by guest services “I’ll check into it” but nothing happened. All they would have had to do is look at their server logs and they’d see what they had done. I was unable to do my work for the entire week. I have been cruising Carnival for years and never had this issue (well, once but they fixed it in 3 hours), but this was a nightmare. All they had to do was look at their server logs, and most likely update their digital certificate/time clock, but instead they kept asking me “which URL is not working, we will see if we can connect”. I told them half a dozen times its not a URL, its a *program*. I hope this turns out to be an isolated incident – if it happens again, my cruising days are over.

    • I feel your pain as I experienced similar sad performance on the Carnival Paradise but it won’t end my cruise days, it will just end my purchase of any of their WiFi plan packages.

  6. With a 680millisecond ping time for the “premium” service, that means there’s such a huge latency (delay/lag), that anyone you’re with on a Teams or Zoom call will already be on the next sentence or paragraph before the video catches up with you. Disgraceful, Carnival to charge so much money for such subpar performance.


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