It can be very expensive to access the internet while onboard a cruise ship. On average, it will cost you around $1 a minute, even if the connection is slow. This can make responding to email, browsing, and staying connected while on the seas difficult. But don’t worry, as there are a few ways to get free WiFi on a cruise ship.
How to get free WiFi on a cruise ship? A majority of modern-day cruise lines offer their own apps as a complementary part of their package. These apps allow you to use their WiFi networks for free. You only need to connect your smartphone to the WiFi network of the ship. Then you can use their apps to access the internet for free. You won’t be charged a single penny if you use their WiFi network.
Read on to learn more about how to get free WiFi on a cruise ship, including 9 helpful tips.
How to Get Free WiFi on a Cruise Ship?
It is entirely possible for you to get free WiFi while you’re on a cruise ship. Cruise liners usually offer apps with free WiFi but only for a limited time and data. The simplest way to get free WiFi is to use the app that is a complementary part of your cruise package. There are also several other ways to get free WiFi on a cruise ship.
In today’s connected world, it is really impossible for you to exist without having a WiFi connection. Many people share this concern of having no possible means of communication while onboard a cruise liner.
Modern cruise liners have functioning WiFi networks. If you play it smart, you can even get it for free. But you need to do the following:
- Plan ahead
- Know what to look for in advance
- Take advantage of certain loopholes in the system
- Hack the system (I do not recommend this)
1. Keep an Eye on Cruise Promotions Offering Free WiFi
The first and simplest thing you need to do is watch out for cruise promotions that offer free WiFi packages. Offering free WiFi is starting to be a common practice for cruise liners to attract more passengers.
However, while you are able to get free WiFi, these packages are only good for a limited time and a small amount of data. Typically, you will only be allowed to use free WiFi for 100 to 250 minutes, which will be specified on the package. You can’t expect free WiFi to be unlimited.
But once your free WiFi package is exhausted, you can still use the ship’s WiFi network if you will follow the other tips below.
2. Look for Areas on the Ship That Have Free WiFi
Explore the ship and visit different decks. Focus on spots where people mingle around, such as in the pool deck or near the dining areas and restaurants.
There could be some restaurants that offer their guests secure networks that need certain passwords. Search for the password inside the restaurant. It is often displayed near a prominent spot at the reception table or the front desk.
3. Use Free WiFi Connection Under 29 Seconds
There are cruise ships that will charge you if you use their WiFi network for more than 30 seconds. Therefore, keep tabs on your time while you are using the network. Be sure that every time you use it, you are just spending a maximum of 29 seconds.
Some guests of Holland America have discovered this while they were on board the cruise liner. They found out that there were no charges indicated in their WiFi bill whenever they used the ship’s WiFi network in under 30 seconds.
Although you can’t do much in less than 30 seconds, you can still update your social media network and send or answer an emergency email. Download your emails and read them after you have logged off. Compose your email in advance so that when you are already WiFi-connected, all you have to do is just send it.
4. Get Free WiFi While the Cruise Is Docked
If the cruise ship is docking in a U.S. Port and other ports that are U.S. territories, your network plans will most likely be valid. Even if the ship is docked in a foreign port, there should still be some spots where you can find free local WiFi.
There are a lot of bars in the Caribbean that offer free WiFi. For instance, Jack’s Shack, a small bar on Grand Turk located in the eastern Caribbean, provides fast WiFi connections for free and for an unlimited time. But you should not abuse the privilege. Other bars in the islands may also offer free WiFi service. All you have to do is ask.
Port maps from guest relations officers may indicate different port spots with free WiFi as well. So you can ask crew members of the ship where they usually go to get free WiFi whenever their ship is docked. They can even recommend places where WiFi is not only free but fast as well.
5. Ask the Ship’s Crew Members How They Get Free WiFi
Befriend crew members of the ship, particularly those whom you feel are safe to talk to. You’ll get tips from them on how to get free WiFi while onboard their ship. They can also show you the areas of the ships where you can get free and fast WiFi.
If you’re not fond of interacting with the crew, observe them when the ship is docked in the ship’s ports of call. When they disembark from the ship carrying their laptops or mobiles, they will often go straight to their favorite bar or restaurant. More often than not, there is free WiFi in their usual hangouts.
6. Take Advantage of a Bug in their System
Cruise liners usually sell internet or data packages to their guests. They convince their potential passengers through their website using a secured WiFi network. If you have purchased an internet package from this ship, you have undergone this procedure. There is a bug in this system that you can use to access free WiFi.
Here’s how to do it:
- Turn your laptop or smartphone on airplane mode. If possible, keep your WiFi activated.
- Connect your laptop or smartphone to the WiFi network of the ship. If you can’t do it in airplane mode, make sure to turn off your data. If you don’t, you will be billed for roaming charges.
- If you succeed in getting a WiFi connection, try to visit any website. You will be directed to the ship’s website and will prompt you either to log in or to buy a data package.
- When you are on that page, scroll down to the bottom of the page where social media icons are placed. You will see the icons of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and many more. You can also find these icons if you will click on or search for the “free links” on the homepage of the cruise liner.
- Click on the YouTube icon, and if you are lucky, you will be logged in. From the loaded page, you can watch videos on YouTube for free. Some guests say that you can only do this trick on iPhones. But others say you can also do this in WhatsApp and Google Hangouts.
7. Share the WiFi Connection of a Smartphone or Laptop
Modern mobile phones and laptops are able to share their WiFi connection with other similar electronic devices. If the laptop or mobile of one member of your group has WiFi access, you can use it as a hotspot and then share its connection with others in the group.
Ask one member of your group to buy a WiFi package from the cruise liner. You and other members of your group could share the cost of the package. That will effectively reduce individual costs of using the WiFi of the ship. The more members in the group, the lesser will be the cost per person. Everyone will be able to get WiFi access and use the internet virtually for free.
Another way you can bridge the WiFi network of the ship is to make your own WiFi network. This is possible if you will use a travel router. If you can set up this router correctly, your cabin will have its own WiFi network.
So, include a wireless travel router in your luggage. As soon as you are on board the ship, set the router to “bridge mode.” You can now pair it with the WiFi network of the cruise ship. This will make a new mini wireless network inside your room. The router will function as a WiFi repeater. It will enable you to connect all the devices you want to use inside the single WiFi package you bought from the cruise liner.
This hack will work best if you buy an unlimited WiFi package for the entire voyage. You can run it for the whole duration of your trip. It will allow you to connect all the devices that you want simultaneously. Smartphones, laptops, and tablets–all of these can be used inside your cabin at the same time in this setup.
8. Take Advantage of the Open Deck to Get Free WiFi
The cruise ship will call on several ports while it is completing its scheduled trip. It will dock in different ports several times during its entire voyage. While the ship is docked in any of these ports, you can take a short walk on one of its open decks.
You will likely pick up a signal from the port or from the local area. For example, if your ship is docked in Nassau, Bahamas, near the terminal, there should be several WiFi signals that you can pick up. It will also depend on how powerful your mobile device is. Try to move around, and you will be able to get the best spot where you can get clear WiFi signals. The strongest internet signals will be found when the cruise ship close to land.
9. Access the Internet via Satellites
Cruise ships get their internet by tapping into satellites. You can also tap into a satellite to access the internet. But it will be impractical for you as an individual because you have to use your own satellite dish. You can’t include a 3-foot dish in your luggage.
But there is a good alternative to a big satellite dish. There are devices such as the Raspberry Pi satellite receiver, which resembles a WiFi router, and other special gadgets made by Othernet, Inc. You can use them as a hotspot, where you can connect your other devices.
However, understand that you are not connecting to the internet but the outernet. Othernet is a broadcasting computer software that can be used for movies, music, games, and other content using satellites via the outernet for free. Currently, the topic of satellite internet is very hot. It could revolutionize the choices of WiFi internet on cruise liners.
How to Get the Strongest WiFi Signals
You can boost your WiFi connection by using a WiFi antenna. There are WiFi antennas that can be hooked on the USB port of any device. You can buy them for approximately $10 apiece. Add a few more dollars for W-Fi signal boosters and repeaters, and you will really get the strongest signals.
Most cruise ships operate on the 2.4 GHz band. So look for antennas, boosters, and repeaters within this band range.
Conclusion – How to Get Free WiFi on a Cruise Ship?
So, to revisit our initial question: How to get free WiFi on a cruise ship? A majority of cruise liners today are offering their own apps as a complementary part of their package. This is how you can use the ship’s WiFi network for free.
Just connect your smartphone to the WiFi network of the ship, and you can use their apps to access the internet for free. You won’t be charged any amount when you use their WiFi network. There are many other ways to get free WiFi by following the tips earlier.