Thanks to the bow-to-stern wireless Internet access on most cruise ships today, staying in touch while on a cruise vacation has never been easier.  While many people like to get totally away from it all while on a cruise, others want or need to keep up with family or business matters back home, and cruise lines are more than happy to charge them a bundle to do so.

What you should know about cruise ship Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi access rates will be around 75 to 85 cents per minute, or you can purchase a package plan which discounts the per-minute rate.

Royal Caribbean’s Wi-Fi package:

  • $24.95 for 38 minutes ($0.65 per min.)
  • $49.95 for 90 minutes ($0.55 per min.)
  • $99.95 for 202 minutes ($0.49 per min.)
  • $199.95 for 555 minutes ($0.36 per min.)
  • $399.95 for 1666 minutes ($0.24 per min.)

How it works:

  • Some lines assess a one-time activation fee of $3.95 whether you pay as you go or buy a package.
  • Rates are the same whether you use a computer in the ship's Internet café or your own device.
  • Shipboard Internet access is via satellite and therefore considerably slower than land-based high-speed connections.
  • Bandwidth-hogging activities like Skype typically won’t work.
  • Connectivity may be periodically unavailable usually due to poor weather conditions.

What you should know about free Wi-Fi in ports of call

A cheaper alternative to paying top dollar for sluggish, ship Wi-Fi is taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi that’s available in many ports of call usually within walking distance from the cruise pier.

  • Accessing it: To access free Wi-Fi in a restaurant or bar you’ll be expected to make a purchase of some sort before they'll give you the access code. Sometimes the code will be printed on your bill. As long as you don't run up a large tab, enjoying free Wi-Fi with a drink or snack is usually a better value than paying through the nose to the cruise line.
  • Ask the crew: Cruise ship staff members know where all the free hotspots are because they're also charged for Internet access aboard the ship. Ask crew members where they go for Wi-Fi and be observant in port. When you spot groups of the ship's crew on laptops in a shoreside bar, you can bet that they’re there for the free Internet—not the drinks.
  • Catch signal: You may be able to connect from your cabin balcony or another open deck of the ship when docked at ports especially where the nearby hotspot signal is unrestricted such as in Barbados.
  • Be safe: Click here for valuable information regarding public Wi-Fi security.

Free Wi-Fi hotspots: Eastern Caribbean ports

Antigua

  •  C&C Wine Bar adjacent to the cruise ship dock in Redcliffe Quay, St. John's, Antigua
  •  Cheers Antigua adjacent to the cruise ship dock in Heritage Quay, St.John's, Antigua

Freeport, Grand Bahama Island in The Bahamas   

Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos

  • Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville in the Grand Turk Cruise Center.
  • White Sands Beach Resort Snack Bar located on the beach next door to the Cruise Center

Nassau, New Providence Island in The Bahamas

St. Kitts

  • There are several Wi-Fi hotspots provided by various establishments spanning the length of Port Zantewhich are free for public use.

St. Maarten

St. Thomas

  • Pizza Amore in Al Cohen's Mall located across the street from Havensight cruise pier

Free Wi-Fi hotspots: Western Caribbean ports

Belize

Costa Maya, Mexico

Cozumel, Mexico

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

  • Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville located across the street from the cruise ship terminal

Free Wi-Fi hotspots: Southern Caribbean ports

Aruba

  • Iguana Joe's located at the famous Royal Plaza Mall one block from the cruise pier

Barbados

Curacao

  • Free Internet is available in downtown Willemstad, including the cruise ship pier area.
  • Restaurant De Gouverneur de Rouville is located within walking distance of both cruise piers on the Otrabanda Waterfront.
  • Restaurant La Bahia is at the Otrabanda Hotel and Casino located right next door to De Gouverneur.

Free Wi-Fi hotspots: Mexican Riviera ports

Cabo San Lucas

  • Solomon's Landing Restaurant and Bar located at the marina in front of the Wyndham Hotel and Resort

Puerto Vallarta

  • Starbucks located in the Galerias Vallarta Shopping Mall next door to Walmart across from the cruise port
  • If you venture south to the famous Malecon area, Café Roma Pizzeria offers free Wi-Fi and free telephone calls to the U.S. and Canada.
This is a guest post by Deidre from Dania Beach, FL. 
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Free Wi-Fi Hotspots in Cruise Ports of Call