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Do cruise ships have Wi-Fi? Amongst all that food, swimming, dancing and drinking you may want to post a few pictures of your fun.
But if you’re out at sea, it’s probably not a great idea to use your phone plan for service. Happily for cruisers, Wi-Fi is nearly always available, though the type and costs will vary.
Do cruises have Wi-Fi?
Most cruise lines these days have options for onboard internet, but you’ll need to pay for access, and not all types of internet service are equal.
When you book a cruise, you’ll generally be given the opportunity to purchase Wi-Fi before boarding. Doing so can save you money versus buying on board. However, it's difficult to tell how good the connection will be before you arrive.
» Learn more: Is cruise travel insurance worth the cost?
Types of Wi-Fi on cruise ships
Cruise lines have been hard at work improving their Wi-Fi offerings. This is great news, as options in the past were both slow and spotty. Depending on who you’re sailing with, you can now find speeds that’ll support streaming, video calls and more.
It’s not all good news, though. The race to improve connectivity is a marathon, not a sprint.
Disney Cruise Line, for example, has updated its internet access and pricing packages for four out of its five ships.
The new service, which has three separate tiers based on what type of browsing you’d like to do, can be found on the following ships:
Prices are available for a single day or for your entire cruise; this is standard practice throughout the industry.
The Disney Wonder cruise ship retains the old internet connection service, which uses Connect@Sea for guests. With this program, you’ll pay a set price for the amount of data you use rather than how long you use it.
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The cost of cruise Wi-Fi
Pricing for Wi-Fi on cruise ships varies pretty dramatically from one cruise line to another.
Sticking with Disney Cruise Line as an example, it’ll now cost you as little as $10 per day for the most basic internet package on most ships, which allows you to send photos and access social media, but little else.
The premium package, starting at $30 per day, grants you the ability to stream music and make video calls. These prices are valid when you purchase internet for the entire duration of the cruise; per-day rates are higher.
However, on the Disney Wonder, which maintains the older Connect@Sea service, pricing starts at $19.00 for just 100MB of data.
Norwegian Cruise Line allows you to pre-purchase various packages at a discounted rate. The cost of an unlimited premium Wi-Fi package for a single device starts at $34.99 per day (or $39.99 if you wait and buy on board).
Finally, Carnival’s Wi-Fi packages start at $12.75 per day for access to social media, while premium access goes as high as $18.70 per day.
» Learn more: The best cruise lines
Is there free Wi-Fi on a cruise?
There aren’t any cruises that’ll give you unlimited Wi-Fi for free, but some do provide limited complimentary services.
Because cruise lines are already operating Wi-Fi networks, it can make sense to create in-house systems to allow guests to communicate with each other. Disney Cruise Line has done so with its app, which provides complimentary messaging to other guests on the ship.
The service also provides showtimes, daily activities, menus and the ability to book paid activities without needing to go to the front desk.
» Learn more: Tips for getting the best deal on your next cruise
How to save money on cruise Wi-Fi
So, let’s say you’re interested in staying connected while aboard ship. If you’re not able to wait for ports of call (or don’t have international data on your phone), it might be worthwhile to pay for a Wi-Fi package.
Although prices have decreased over the years, it can still be pretty costly to purchase Wi-Fi for your cruise. But there are a few ways you can help lower the overall cost.
Pre-pay for internet
It’s possible to save money on your Wi-Fi purchases by pre-paying for a package before you board. For example, both Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line have this option.
Buy a day pass
Not all cruise lines offer the ability to purchase a day pass (rather than unlimited internet), but if yours does, it may be worth considering. This is especially true if you plan on being on shore as much as possible.
Disney’s day passes for the most basic internet access are $12 for 24 hours — just $2 more than the daily rate you'd get by buying the full-trip package.
If you’re truly looking to keep your costs as low as possible, consider paying with a credit card that’ll let you wipe away your charges.
There are plenty of cards that’ll do this, but an especially popular choice is the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card. This card will allow you to redeem your points at a rate of one cent each toward any purchase you make — effectively negating the entire cost of your Wi-Fi.
» Learn more: Best credit cards for cruises
If you’re interested in Wi-Fi on cruise ships
There is internet on cruise ships if you’re interested in purchasing it. It’s faster than it used to be, and it’s also less expensive.
That said, it’s still an extra cost, so do the math before buying to confirm it makes sense for you. If you decide to take the plunge, consider pre-paying to score yourself a discount. And if you pay with a rewards card, you may be able to redeem points that'll wipe away the cost of your purchase.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card