Last updated: 04:01 PM ET, Thu July 16 2015

Carnival, Royal Caribbean Unveil Cheap Wi-Fi Packages

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Carnival Cruise Line | Theresa Norton | July 16, 2015

Carnival, Royal Caribbean Unveil Cheap Wi-Fi Packages

We want our Internet connections, even on cruise ships at sea, and we don’t want to pay an arm and a leg. And now two of the biggest cruise lines have introduced cheap Wi-Fi packages with supposedly faster connections.

Carnival Cruise Line now offers the “massively popular, faster, cheaper and all-round brilliant Internet packages” priced at $5 per day, said Senior Cruise Director John Heald.

And Royal Caribbean International has branded its super-fast Wi-Fi as Voom, which the company says has more streaming capacity than all other cruise ships in the world, combined, at a cost of $15 per day for one device.

Carnival offers several Internet plans. The “Social” plan costs $5 per day to connect to social networks but not the entire internet.

Priced from $16 per day, the “Value” plan is designed for casual Internet usage, giving access to email and the entire Internet, except for bandwidth-intensive services like Skype and music streaming.

The “Premium” plan, which costs $25 per day, is for heavy Internet users who plan to use services like Skype, email and the entire Internet. Carnival says it offers its fastest speed.

Ships that currently offer the Internet packages are Carnival Breeze, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Elation, Carnival Fascination, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Glory, Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Pride, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Victory. Next up are the Carnival Conquest starting July 25 and then the Carnival Dream. The roll-out to the entire fleet is expected to be completed by October, Heald reported on his Facebook page. Ships without the new Internet packages are still operating under the old by-the-minute plans.

Passengers can upgrade from one plan to another. They can use one device at a time, either their personal devices or the ship’s onboard computers. Printing is offered at no charge.

Carnival also is engaged in a pilot program for a new free mobile app that includes a chat feature as well as an at-a-glance view of the ship’s facilities and event schedules.

The Carnival HUB app is available to iPhone and Android users just on the Carnival Breeze at this time with a wider roll-out planned within the next 18 to 24 months, although the ship schedule has not been revealed yet.

The app’s most popular feature is the chat function, which allows passengers to communicate while onboard without buying an Internet package, although they do need to connect to the ship’s Wi-Fi network. The cost is just $5 per voyage, at least during the test period. The app is getting mostly rave reviews on the Apple App store with many five-star ratings and a couple pans from people who complained it didn’t work properly. 

The app also includes information on dining options and watering holes, searchable deck plans, itinerary details, and real-time information on the guest’s shipboard account balance.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean’s Voom is now available on Quantum- and Oasis-class ships only — Allure of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, and Quantum of the Seas when they’re sailing in the Caribbean, Mediterranean or Asia. The service is not available during trans-Atlantic crossings and repositioning cruises.

While specific dates and ships are still to be determined, Voom will be available on all Caribbean ships by mid-2016, including Majesty of the Seas starting in May, when that ship only will include free unlimited Internet in the fares.

Royal Caribbean says Voom lets passengers “do everything they do back home without skipping a beat — stream music and movies, video chat with family and share every moment of their cruise adventure.”

The cost for unlimited Internet is $15 per day and 50 percent off a second device. So for one device, the package costs $105 for a seven-day cruise. For two devices, it costs $15 for the first device and $7.50 for the second, for a seven-day total price of $157.50. Those who choose a day-by-day plan pay $29.95 per day, which adds up to $209.65 for a seven-day cruise.

Royal Caribbean says Voom has a latency of only 120ms, which is six times faster than any other Internet at sea. Each Voom-equipped ship has a dedicated beam from satellites that orbit close to the earth.

There will be no hidden charges or additional fees if the devices are set to Airplane Mode and/or have the data services turned off.

Passengers now can purchase Internet packages through the online cruise planner for both Voom and non-Voom ships for all sailings after Aug. 1. Guest will receive their log-in name and password information upon arrival in their staterooms. Guests also can buy the packages once onboard.


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