The Internet, WiFi & Cell Phones Make For Tech Savvy Cruise
Stay In Touch While Out to Sea
Internet Cafe aboard Princess Cruises' Crown Princess
by Linda Coffman
— Here's a two
part techno-trivia question for you. Quick! "What was the name
of the first cruise ship to feature an Internet cafe and what year
was it launched?" The ship was Norwegian Cruise Line's
newest flagship, Norwegian Sky, and the year was 1999.
Imagine that. Until just a decade ago there were only two ways to
communicate with the outside world from a cruise ship—you
could either toss a message in a bottle overboard or use the
expensive (very expensive) telephone in your cabin. At least the
latter option was better than making calls through the ship's radio
room as in ocean liner days. However, the modern convenience of
making calls from your cabin
will cost from $6 to $15 a minute (depending on ship) and
is charged to your onboard account.
Today you'll find that cell phone connectivity, Internet access, and even WiFi wireless capabilities are available on most cruise ships.
With these advances, tech-savvy cruisers are bringing their gadgets with them to
stay connected with friends, family, and businesses during their
While some ships offer wireless Internet connections only in
certain public room "hot spots," others feature it
from bow to stern in all accommodations. Internet usage is billed
directly to your onboard account and charged either by the minute or
in discounted packages of minutes. With your own laptop, it's often
cheaper to find an Internet cafe ashore where even a WiFi connection
is often delivered at broadband speed and much faster than you'll
encounter on most ships.
Cell phone accessibility is a bit trickier. In essence, the ship
acts as a tower—service
is activated while at sea and shut down in port. Your phone may also
pick up signals from towers in ports of call. Check with your mobile
provider before leaving home to ascertain whether you'll be able to
use your phone on the ship.
provider must have an agreement with the cruise line's service
provider. Plus, you will also have to enable international roaming in
order to use your phone on board and in most ports. Per minute
charges will be billed by your mobile phone service company.
The following is an overview of the cell phone and Internet access on popular cruise lines:
The roaming network provided by Cingular Wireless Maritime
Service enables Azamara passengers to make and receive calls at
sea, using their mobile phones. Passengers also can access
the Web in the Internet Cafe, which is open 24 hours. Azamara
Journey and Azamara Quest are both fully wireless, including
Carnival Cruise Lines
Cell phone service is available on all Carnival ships, allowing
passengers to make and receive calls,
send and receive text messages, view emails and browse the Internet. In addition to a 24-hour Internet Cafe on all ships,
Carnival offers wireless Internet access, either limited to
the Internet Cafe and select public areas, or throughout the ship,
depending on the vessel. The network also supports the latest WiFi
enabled devices. Passengers can
access their own email accounts via the Web, or use an
optional a temporary email address through Cruise email.
Cingular Wireless Maritime Service has an agreement with
Celebrity, allowing use of your phone to make calls at
sea. Internet access is available 24/7 in the ships' Internet Cafes.
use your own laptop at wireless access points located in several areas around the ships.
Crystal has partnered with SeaMobile to offer passengers the
ability to make and receive calls via their phones as well as send
text messages. Passengers on Crystal ships receive their own email address
printed in their cruise documents and can utilize the line's private email system
to send and receive messages for a fee. They also can access their own
in each ship's Internet Cafe or through the ships' wireless WiFi
Disney Cruise Line
Disney's Cellular at Sea service passengers can make and receive
calls and text messages on their mobile phones once their ships are
about 12 miles out to sea. Disney ships have
Internet Cafes and laptop users can access the Web at
convenient WiFi "hot spot" locations around each ship.
Holland America Line
SeaMobile partners with Holland America Line to provide passengers
the ability to use mobile phones to make calls and send text
messages. The Explorations Cafe (or Internet Cafe) on
each Holland America ship provides 24/7 access to the Internet. Wireless connection hotspots
are located around the ships and you may even get a signal in your
stateroom, depending on its location. For a fee, the cruise
line can set up a personal cruise email account.
Norwegian Cruise Line
NCL passengers can use personal cell phones onboard all the cruise
line's ships. All NCL ships feature 24/7 Internet
Cafes, as well as WiFi hot spots in most public areas and some
staterooms. NCL offers several Internet minute package plans. All
passengers are provided special Cruise email addresses.
The advanced cellular network onboard Princess ships allows
make and receive calls provided that their mobile phone service
company has a roaming agreement with Maritime Communications
Partner. International roaming must also be enabled. All Princess ships offer
Internet access in their Internet Cafes and WiFi "hot spot"
Regent Seven Seas
Regent passengers can use their mobile phones at sea in select areas of
the ships thanks to a partnership with Wireless Maritime Services.
Text messaging is also available on compatible GSM devices. Computer
centers with Internet access are centrally located on each Regent
ship for surf the Web,
as well as sending or receiving emails via the computers. WiFi hot
spots are found in select public areas. On select ships, computers
can be connected via modem to the Internet service and WiFi is available
Royal Caribbean International
All Royal Caribbean ships provide mobile phone service for passengers.
In addition to Internet Cafes open 24/7, you may also use your personal
laptop to connect with the Internet. All RCI
ships have WiFi access "hot spots" in select public areas and the line's
newer vessels s have WiFi capability throughout the ships.
Yachts of Seabourn
The luxury ships feature an onboard GSM mobile phone
network enabling passengers to send and receive calls on their
mobile phones. Passengers can use the
computer centers on each vessel 24 hours a day to access the
Internet, or send and receive emails. WiFi access also is
available in most suites and public areas.
Silversea passengers may use their own mobile phones, laptop computers,
and other wireless devices to make and receive calls. All ships have
24-hour Internet Cafes with Web access and email capabilities. In addition to
WiFi "hot spots" in public areas, Silversea ships feature WiFi access in all suites.
Here's a little known factoid: For those of us who still depend
on FAX machines for certain communications, most ships can send and
receive FAXes. Just ask at the Information Desk.