If you are wondering how to get free internet on cruise ship, you are not alone!
Since the internet is quite expensive on the seas, most cruise liners make it difficult for their passengers to access it while onboard.
Luckily, it is still possible to get free WiFi at sea and stay connected with your friends and family.
The easiest way to access free Wi-Fi on a cruise ship is to book a package that includes it. Many ships offer incentives for premium bookings, with bigger cruisers having branded apps that allow free internet access.
This article looks at the different ways you can get free internet access on board a cruiser.
Read on to discover more.
How Do Ships Connect To The Internet?
Before we dive into details, wouldn’t it be great if we first learn how ships connect to the internet?
Well, the reason why free internet is hard to find on ships has to do with distance from shore.
Unless a ship is near a port, the only way to connect to the internet is via satellite (satcom).
Essentially, the ships are transmitting data to satellites that are thousands of miles away from earth.
Apart from being overly slow, satcom is incredulously expensive, which is why most ships restrict internet access to staff only.
Note: Even if you get internet on a cruise, it will probably not do more than access messaging apps.
Don’t expect much if you are a heavy internet user.
How to Get Free Internet on Cruise Ship?
Below are some of the most practical tips on how to get free WiFi on a cruise ship.
How well they work will of course depend on the type of internet the cruiser is subscribed to.
1. Take Advantage of Free WiFi Offers
Most cruise liners are now offering free internet in their promotional packages to woo more passengers.
However, it is important to note that the ‘free’ WiFi included in promotions is not always unlimited. In most cases, you can only use it for about 100 – 400 minutes.
No matter their best intentions, liners can’t provide unlimited internet without taking massive hits to their bottomline.
Still, some liners offer continued internet access for certain messaging apps even after the promotional packages expire.
Tip: Premium or high-priced cruise liners are more likely to include WiFi in their packages compared to mainstream lines.
2. Go to Areas That Are Likely to Have Free WiFi
It is common for high-traffic areas on cruise ships to have free WiFi. Pool decks, dining areas, and restaurants, in particular, are most likely to have good network coverage.
As such, try walking around the ship with your phone’s WiFi scanner turned on to check any available open network.
If you find a network that is password-protected (very likely in restaurants) you can try asking for its password from the people around you.
But if you have a newer phone model, you don’t even need the password. Simply find a connected device and scan the QR code on the WiFi settings page.
Alternatively, you can also ask one of the staff about the terms of service. Sometimes, all you need to be logged in is to buy a coffee or one of the items on offer.
From then, you can use the network until the password changes again.
Tip: If you spend a lot of time on the deck, or a raised platform, you will inadvertently come across multiple WiFi networks.
3. Take Your Chance When the Ship is Docked
Your best chance of getting free, high-speed WiFi is when the ship is docking in a major port.
In bigger ports around the world, there are plenty of spots with free WiFi.
These are usually concentrated in ‘touristy’ places like bars, customs offices, and harbors. Sometimes, the WiFi may be strong enough to reach the cruiser’s decks.
It is also possible to arrive at a docking port and find no ‘free’ networks to connect to. Try asking the crew, specifically the guest relation officers, for their favorite WiFi hotspots.
And as mentioned before, all you may need to do is buy an item or pay for a service for you to enjoy free WIFI.
Alternatively, befriend one of the locals. They will probably know all the cool places that have free WiFi for guests.
Note: This strategy only works if the liner is constantly moving between ports.
4. Get it From The Crew Members
If you are going to be on the liner for a week or longer, it makes sense to befriend the ship’s crew.
As your friendship grows, you will be able to get pointers on where, and how to access free Wi-Fi.
A friendly crew member may even let you in on the staff WiFi network, which would be much faster.
Additionally, they would know the spots where the WiFi networks happen to be stronger and faster.
If you do not fancy unnecessary conversations with the crew, just observe their movements when they are off-duty.
In particular, note where they spend most of their time with their phones and laptops. You never know, this might be a great WIFI spot!
Tip: Some cruise companies are very strict in regards to who accesses their Staff WiFi.
To be on the safe side, make sure you check with your crew friend to confirm if they are allowed to share WIFI logins.
5. Share Someone Else’s WiFi
Essentially, find someone, whether a crew member or a fellow passenger, who is subscribed or connected to the ship’s WiFi.
Befriend them and politely ask them to create a hotspot.
However, You need to be in close contact with your ‘WiFi donor’’ to access good speeds.
6. Take Advantage of the Loopholes
Apart from promotional packages, cruise liners usually allow passengers to use their Satcom internet for a fee.
Normally, the internet bundles are available on the liner’s website, which you have to visit to buy a package.
To enable passengers to buy bundles with ease, most ships allow free access to their websites.
This creates a loophole that you can easily capitalize on to access free WiFi.
Here’s the best way to find the loophole:
Step #1. Get on Flight Mode
Switch whatever device you plan to use into airplane mode, leaving the WiFi on.
Step #2. Connect to the Ship’s Network
Go to the WiFi portal on your device and try to connect to the liner’s WiFi, if available.
Step #3. Proceed to the Landing Page
If you haven’t bought a data package, you will be taken to the ship’s website.
There, you will be asked to buy one of the packages, or log in to your user account.
Step #4. Look for Free Links
While on the website, look around for the social media icons. Bigger liners will have them displayed prominently at the top or bottom corners of their websites.
If you do not find them, enter the words “free links” on the site’s search bar and they will probably appear.
Step #5. Go Browse for Free!
Click on the logo of the site you wish to visit and see where it takes you. For instance, if you want to visit Twitter, click on the Twitter icon, and so on.
Naturally, you will find yourself on the liner’s page or profile on the platform you selected. From there, you can go back and browse other pages within the platform.
Now that you know how to get free internet on cruise ship, you are probably more relaxed about your next cruise.
Hopefully, the above tips will work for you and make your voyage even more enjoyable!
Read Next: Does Royal Caribbean Have Free WiFi?
Kevin has over five years of experience working in various Tech startups and providing Technical solutions. He has contributed to many Tech publications and websites.