Staying connecting while at sea hasn’t always been easy, since utilizing a ship’s satellite to procure WiFi tended to be slow and expensive. Recently, however, many cruise lines have begun to upgrade their fleet’s technology, making the service more reliable and affordable. While some lines offer more affordable packages for WiFi service, others entice travelers with incentive plans and reward loyal cruisers with complimentary minutes. Here are six ways to save money the next time you go on a cruise.
1. Be loyal to your line.
Many lines offer packages to loyal cruises which include minutes, and may include unlimited plans at their elite status. For example, Princess Cruises’s Elite Captain’s Circle members receive a complimentary Internet credit to be used on personal devices or on the ship’s Internet café computers. The amount of complimentary Internet is determined by the length of the sailing: If a voyage is seven days or less the incentive is 150 minutes, while travelers on a cruise of 21 days or more are rewarded with 500 free minutes.
2. Pick a line where Internet is included.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises, a luxury line, is getting even more all-inclusive by offering free, unlimited WiFi on all voyages, beginning with the 2016-17 winter collection of itineraries. The complimentary unlimited Wi-Fi will be available to all suite categories and will provide Internet access from any location on the ship via laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
3. Choose the amount of data that’s right for you.
Passengers are now in a better position to select plans that meet their needs than before. For example, on Carnival ships, guests who are only interested in using WiFi to post to their social networks can purchase a basic package for a lower fee. For only $5 a day, cruisers can access Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and other services with no limit on usage. This gives cruisers the chance to save money without having to worry about time constraints, a valuable option in a world where everyone wants to be connected.
4. Pick WiFi as a booking perk.
Keep an eye out for flash sales that offer WiFi as a perk, or select an Internet package with an onboard credit incentive. If staying connected is something that is a priority for you, complimentary minutes may offer a better value than dining or excursion incentives. Norwegian Cruise Line often offers an Internet package for its monthly Freestyle Choice promotion; those interested in sailing Norwegian should check their website at the beginning of each month to see what new promotions they are offering.
5. If purchasing a plan, splurge.
Typically, the most expensive Internet plans offer the most minutes at the lowest price. If everyone in a travel party plans to post and surf a lot, then the highest tier plan makes the most sense. Usually a password can be shared for between personal devices and for use in the onboard Internet cafés.
6. Purchase a sparse plan and then supplement while in port.
Another alternative is to purchase a conservative WiFi plan your first day onboard, choosing the lowest threshold of minutes to stay connected on sea days. There are often embarkation specials on Internet time. With three or four port days on a seven-day cruise, there are ample opportunities to connect to WiFi off a ship. Most ports have Internet cafés where per-minute costs are lower than traditional ship plans. Windstar Cruises, a smaller cruise line, touts that staff are available to provide their recommendations for the best and/or nearest Internet café in each port, where you’ll typically find quicker (and cheaper) connections.