Sailing on a variety of cruise ships lately, it is time to update our list of tips for getting the most out of the internet connection provided by cruise lines. The good news is that effectively staying connected at sea is happening more frequently, with stronger signals and more, better ship wide Wi-Fi systems. The bad news is that cruise ship Internet still lags sadly behind its land-based counterpart.
The same elements we can’t do anything about still exist. The signal, the ‘raw ingredient’ of communication if you will, comes from a satellite as opposed to a hard-wired land connection. Doubling down on bad odds, the ship moves around a lot, requiring constant acquisition of that signal.
Satellite TV subscribers on land know the feeling from when a thunderstorm disrupts their line-of-sight connection. Imagine the problem if in a thunderstorm and your house was moving too. That’s a cruise ship on a cloudy day.
No experience with satellite TV? How about dropped cell phone calls? The cruise line Internet experience can be similarly inefficient and unsatisfying.
We begin with the basics.
Managing the system-
- Don’t just log out, cut the feed- We’re told to be sure to log out of our connection on the ship to stop the clock from ticking away our connection. Be sure that is happening by logging out then physically disrupting the connection. On your device, turn off the wireless connection too.
- Resize photos for faster loading- or wait until you get home. The larger the photo, the longer they take to load and that burns up expensive at-sea Internet minutes. If you must show your friends everything consumed during the sailing, make the photo thumbnail size.
- Experiment with photo-sharing at sea- Not all photo-sharing platforms are equal. Instagram, while popular and pretty with unique features to make your photo look different/better but loads slow as does Tumblr and Flickr. Slow loading (either to upload or view) burns up Internet time. Pinterest loads both ways fast. It has few modification features but time is money on at-sea Internet.
- Attempt data-intense activities at non-peak times- It’s a shared signal, like a cable modem signal on land. The best time to load photos, or communicate back and forth between you and some remote source is in the middle of the night. That’s not a sure thing though; cruise ships also transmit a large amount of data to their home offices then too.
- Befriend the Internet Café Manager- A classic good idea/tip for getting the most out of your Internet packages, meet this person the first day. Ask some critical questions: Where is the best place to connect wirelessly, the place where the signal is strongest? If I prop open my cabin door, will the signal be stronger? (sounds silly but often a game-changer) Later, go back and thank that person for the tips. A day or so after that go back and mention that you have been having some problems connecting (you will). Often they will add some complementary minutes.
- Compose offline, send online- this one is a no-brainer. Contemplating your thoughts before sharing them in an email is a good idea. Doing so online though can be costly on a ship where you are paying to peruse.
These are basic things that will work. Next we get into optional ideas that may reap huge savings/help get more out of your Internet minutes in Internet At Sea: How to Fool The System. To set that article up, consider this thought:
The Golden Rule Of Connecting At Sea:
Its not what you pay for the Internet signal,
its what you get out of it that counts.