While holidaying is all about escaping from everyday life, cruise lines have finally started to appreciate the fact that not all passengers are content to disconnect while at sea. In fact, offering passengers access to super-fast Wi-Fi has now become standard on a handful of the industry’s leading vessels. Competition is fierce and for cruisers that want to stay connected, we’ve got the lowdown on how some of our favourite vessels measure up.
Anthem of the Seas
Capable of carrying over 4000 passengers, Anthem of the Seas is one seriously big ship. As one of Royal Caribbean’s newest vessels she boasts state-of-the-art features, including cutting edge Wi-Fi technology. Using Ka-band satellites from O3b Communications, as well as what Royal Caribbean’s Chief Information Officer Bill Martin refers to as “fiber from the sky,” passengers enjoy lighting fast connection on par with the speeds they receive on dry land. “The new, O3b satellites are in low, mid-Earth orbit, roughly five times closer to Earth, and they actually orbit. It’s a much more concentrated signal…access can be unlimited and high-speed,” explains Martin. Average speeds are estimated at 5.00 Mbps for downloads and 4.33 Mbps for uploads. Pricing ranges from US$20 per hour to $400 for ‘Premium Plus’ packages, with guests also enjoying the chance to take advantage of surprise ‘WOW Hours’ where Wi-Fi is temporarily on the house.
Carnival is another line that knows the value its passengers place on staying connected. On-board the Carnival Breeze passengers are currently enjoying the test phases of the line’s ‘WiFi@Sea’ concept. The innovative hybrid system blends land-based antennas with geostationary satellites to offer fast and affordable internet, on demand. Passengers can sign up for US$5 per day or US$25 per cruise ‘social’ plans which provide unlimited access to popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and more.
This year Celebrity Reflection is offering its passengers reduced Wi-Fi rates that start at just US$59 a day for unlimited use, and US$349 for a two week trip. It may seem pricey but when compared to what else is out there it’s a great deal! As well as enjoying Wi-Fi access from their own personal devices passengers can also hit up the iLounge which features a library of Macs and iPads. Not to mention an authorised Apple reseller where passengers can stock up on all their favourite gadgets.
Like Celebrity, Azamara has also bought down the price of its Wi-Fi services to attract passengers who can’t bear to disconnect. For US$69 cruisers can now purchase 24 hours of Wi-Fi, whereas US$75 used to buy just 150 minutes of connectivity. Talk about a sale! The geostationary orbit powered Ku-band connection isn’t ultra-fast but it does do the job, and the price is fantastic.
From updating social media statuses and sharing your latest holiday snaps to checking corporate emails and researching port destinations, it’s now easier than ever to stay connected while at-sea.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: Gord McKenna, Yukata Tsutano