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Wi-Fi: Staying connected on a cruise this summer just got a little easier

Norwegian Cruise Lines
Photo by Karim Rezk/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0  

In these days of instant technology, people like to keep connected - even when out at sea. However, not so very long ago, taking a cruise of Europe or around the Caribbean meant giving up your email and online browsing for the duration. In many cases, it was just too difficult and costly to connect or too slow to be of any use. If you urgently needed to contact someone, you had to cough up money for a telegram or ship-to-shore call.

Those days are rapidly disappearing into the less-technological past, as cruise lines work at offering more suitable connections this summer.

A cruise is one of the most enjoyable and relaxing of holidays, whether embarking on a Princess Cruise around Australasia, or cruising around the Caribbean or Greek islands.
CNN recently reported on some of the best cruise-based Wi-Fi options out there right now.

Back in 1999, Norwegian Cruise Lines were the first to introduce an on-board Internet café, however coverage was slow, patchy and expensive.

According to a poll run by the review site, Cruise Critic, one in five cruise passengers now consider it vital to be connected to the Internet while on a cruise. 

Now things do appear to be happening, with cruise lines pushing to improve their satellite technology to boost connection speeds and working out the best way to give the better connection at an affordable price.

According to Adam Coulter, editor of Cruise Critic and speaking of cruise lines, "They are tapping into the desire to stay connected by offering faster, more cost-effective Wi-Fi solutions." 

Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norwegian Cruise Lines Cayman Islands by Bahman CC BY 2.0 

Coulter went on to say, "Package offerings now provide a greater variety of choice, enabling travelers to select the best option for their personal requirements."

According to Coulter, while speed options and costs still vary, many cruise companies are now offering tiered packages, allowing passengers to choose their best option.

Reportedly Norwegian Cruise Lines are still pushing to be ahead of the game and are working to quadruple their on-board Internet connectivity. Reportedly by July 2016, the cruise line will have all 23 of its ships upgraded to a faster Wi-Fi service, dubbed SpeedNet. CNN wanted to know if the service was any better than previous.

They spoke to tech consultant, Henry Mui, who sailed to Bermuda on one of Norwegian Cruise Lines larger ships, the Breakaway, earlier in the year. Breakaway has been trialing data packages of 300MB for $59, or 1,000MB for $125.

Mui took a free 250-minute package as part of a promotion that was capped at 1,000MB and he said the data plan turned out to be far better than they expected, saying, “we had over 30 logged sessions and used just over 1,000 minutes for our 1GB-worth of free data.”

According to Mui they used the service mainly for sending emails, surfing the web and using Google Hangout, with the occasional Wi-Fi voice call.

"The calls were not dropped and overall it was reasonably fast and reliable with acceptable upload times," he added.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Royal Caribbean is offering the Voom satellite service, which is reportedly fast enough to stream music, videos and movies and is available on all the cruise lines 25 ships. Their deals range between $12.99 and $17.00 a day.

According to Michael Bayley, president and CEO of the company, their Voom service is a "game-changer for the industry."

"Everything our guests and crew can do online at home, they will now be able to do from on-board all of our ships around the world," he added.

With so much competition between the various cruise lines these days, no doubt passengers will be kept connected in much better ways in the future.

Photo Royal Caribbean Cruises by David Spinks/CC BY 2.0