Internet access on ship?

edited March 2016 in JoCo Cruise
Did anyone pay for internet/WiFi on the ship? I need to have it for at least part of the time, because I'll have college assignments due while I'm away. Also will be nice to Facebook the cruise experience, and as an introvert, might be nice to hide in my room sometimes and watch Netflix until I'm ready to interact with humans again. Wondering if the access is slow, spotty, or whatever. Also, how much money am I looking at? Sorry if it's somewhere obvious, but finding the multitude of links hard to navigate.

[edited by @Bry, Mar 7, 2016, to change thread categories]


  • I've never actually paid for it, but from what I've heard, it tends to be 
    * expensive
    * slow
    * only available part of the time

    Streaming Netflix is probably not going to work.  Checking your email, sending small attachments would probably work.  Facebook might work, since they have spent some time optimizing it for slow connections.  At least one former seamonkey tried to use it to be available for his job, but had less then stellar results using it for stuff like ssh and vpn.
  • I haven't paid for internet access previously, but you can purchase internet packages online or once you get on the ship. To purchase online go to the Royal Caribbean "Cruise Planner"; the link is in the same section where you purchase excursion. It costs $20/day for one device, or $30/day for two devices. The JoCoCruise FAQ says we should get a discounted internet price but I can't find any information on it.

    The internet service is quite sloooow. Updating social media is fine but streaming video like Netflix are probably blocked. Royal Caribbean is rolling out a faster internet service called "Voom" but it won't be added to Freedom of the Seas until May!
  • While it won't be the vast selection offered by Netflix and you won't have the control possible with said service, the in-room TV will have several channels devoted to movies for just such a recharge. What's showing changes during the cruise, so you're not stuck with the same 3 on repeat all week.
  • edited February 2016
    I sailed on two cruises -- one on Holland America (JCCC2) and one on RCI (JCCC3).

    Internet access on Holland America was more reliable than on RCI (where it cut out frequently and was overloaded wherever there was a concentration of nerds) but more expensive. The Westerdam really did have full ship coverage, while the Freedom of the Seas had big dead spots -- including, alas, our cabin. Neither could stream video.

    Best access I had was when I found a fast, free hotspot on St. Thomas, outside a pizza joint in a wooden multi-story commercial building very close to the dock. It had at least a 20 Mbps fiber connection back to the ISP and was unthrottled (a bad idea in practice, but after several days of Internet starvation I was not complaining). I discovered it because several of the ship's crew members, who obviously knew the port, were camped out there at picnic tables with their laptops.
    One of the reasons I am not cruising this year is the poor onboard connectivity. I absolutely cannot afford to be out of touch with my businesses!
  • [P] Our discounted price this year isn't super-awesome: $129.95 for the week. Really only a deal if you plan to use internet every day. But it's something.

    To get the discount, you need to sign up on day 1 of the cruise—DON'T pre-purchase it. The ship should automatically apply your pricing once purchased on board.

    And yes, the service is slow and spotty. Will work for email and (slowly) updating facebook. Definitely not for streaming or uploading/downloading files.

    Also, check with your cell service carrier, as most of them function "normally" in St. Thomas as if you were in the US—but not *all* of them do, so CHECK FIRST.

    And as has been suggested above, there are numerous places to access wifi in St. Thomas and St. Maarten; many restaurants and shops along the way have it. Your mileage may vary, of course.
  • I will second what everybody else said about the service being slow and unreliable. On the first cruise (which was HAL, not RCI) I bought an internet package to check in with family and work every day. The cruise was so awesome that it also carried over into putting updates on Facebook about what was happening every day. The Facebook part wound up taking *forever*. I ultimately wound up spending a lot more time in my stateroom on the Internet than I had really intended to, because doing all those things took at least twice as long as it should.

    For other folks wondering what to do about connectivity, you can also, check with your cell phone provider. AT&T offers a package just for cruise ships ( I used that last year so that my parents could contact me on my cell in an emergency.
  • edited February 2016
    P.S. -- A few folks have DMed asking for more specifics on the hotspot (and the REALLY good pizza!) I found on St. Thomas, so I have managed to dig up the info. The big, wooden building is called the "Al
    Cohen Mall," and it is directly uphill from the dock; map at

    The pizza joint is called Pizza Amore, and it makes (according to a friend who owns a house there) the best pizza on the island. The Wi-Fi was fast enough to let me do a bunch of downloads, do a live video chat with the wife and employees, and stream the next ep of P&S's LearningTown, which had just been released that day, in HD. You can sit at a picnic table overlooking the port and get your fill of Internet.
  • BTW, the data packages for cell service are also expensive, and I would be surprised if they're very fast either.  The package from AT&T is $120 for a month of access with data, and includes 100MB of data.  More than enough for a week of checking emails, but you won't be able to stream much video, and I'd be cautious with Facebook.

    Even more expensive than the packages is the ad-hoc usage.  The cruise ship data charges for my carrier (at&t) without a package are insane.  It's a cent a kilobyte, that's $10.24 a megabyte, and that means that an average hour of SD video will cost ~$5,000.   Even listening to Pandora or spotify will likely run up many hundreds of dollars in charges. If you plan on receiving texts and calls during the cruise, make sure you disable mobile data or you could rack up some nasty charges.

    On an iPhone, you can go to Settings->Cellular and turning off Cellular Data.

    On Android the method for turning off cellular data is more varied.  On my Galaxy S6, international data roaming is disabled by default, though I'm not sure if that's because of my corporate configuration.  YMMV.  I plan on manually disabling all cellular data before we leave port just to be safe.

    Or.... you can do like my wife always does on the cruise, and just leave the phone in Airplane mode for the week.
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