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Windstar Cruises' Star Breeze anchored in Venice. Notice the large round domes atop the ship: They're protective shells that encase free-moving antennas that transmit satellite communications.

Courtesy of Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises' Star Breeze anchored in Venice. Notice the large round domes atop the ship: They're protective shells that encase free-moving antennas that transmit satellite communications.

How to keep in touch during a cruise

You can communicate by Internet or cell phone — here's how

As we wrote in Part 1 of this series, Staying connected at sea, most cruise passengers are now taking their smart devices with them during their voyage.

Once on board, how do you connect? In one of two ways:

Cellular connections

There are no cell towers in the middle of the ocean, so all communications rely on satellites located 20,000 miles up in space! This means that a call will be a bit more expensive than your normal cellular or landline connection at home. So cruise lines are doing their best to make sure they have enough satellite bandwidth for passengers and crew to stay connected, as well as run ship-to-shore communications for important navigation data and updates. 

For a typical cruise, international and roaming rates will apply, so check with your carrier before leaving to determine the best plan for you. When you're ready to call, take your phone out of Airplane Mode, then put it back on when you're done to minimize roaming rates. You can also check with your operator to see if Instant Messenger will work on board with wi-fi. 

Internet connections

On board, many cruise ships are outfitted with wi-fi from bow to stern these days. See Cruiseable's rundown of how much the cruise lines charge for Internet use — some charge by the minute, some charge by the megabyte — plus 8 tips to reduce bandwidth usage at sea to get a handle on the plan that's right for you. 

When cruise ships arrive at a port of call, many ships will connect to a high-signal land-based broadband network there, and you will see increased speeds compared to what you would experience at sea.

Sometimes you'll have to be patient when your Internet speed at sea just isn’t like what you experience at home. The industry has come a long way and is working on new technologies that will make connecting at sea even better. 

How to connect on board

You can use your smartphone for a voice call during a cruise, but more often, guests today will do most of their communicating at sea through the Internet. Connecting is simple. Once on board, follow these steps: 

  • Put your smartphone in Airplane Mode.
  • Select the ship’s wi-fi network.
  • Open a Web browser and follow the instructions to connect online.
Yes, it's that easy! See Guest Services if you have issues opening the log-in page.
Left your laptop at home? Nearly all midsize and large cruise ships today (and many smaller ones) have an Internet Cafe with desktop computers available 24-7. You can check with the ship’s Guest Services for its location. 

Your take

How about you? What are your tricks for staying connected during a cruise? 

See anything wrong? What did we overlook? Be a co-creator!

 

In this series

Brent Horwitz
Check out our educational site re: cruise communications at www.ConnectAtSea.com.

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