1. Home
  2. Planning
  3. Best Cruises
  4. 6 Cruise Lines With Great Wi-Fi

6 Cruise Lines With Great Wi-Fi

Using Wi-Fi at Sea (Photo: Cruise Critic)
Using Wi-Fi at Sea (Photo: Cruise Critic)

Find a Cruise

Fast, reliable internet is increasingly important to cruise passengers and can be a factor when considering which cruise line or ship to book.

The good news is that simple internet tasks -- browsing websites, reading and sending emails, posting updates to social media sites -- are faster than they've ever been across most cruise lines. But performing more data-intensive tasks -- downloading or uploading photos, using Wi-Fi calling and VoIP (Skye, FaceTime, WhatsApp), and streaming TV shows, movies or music -- is still a crap shoot, with some cruise lines not supporting streaming at all.

A handful of cruise lines do stand out for significantly expanding the bandwidth capacity on their ships (typically from 1 to 2 megabits per second to as high as 10Mbps). Some of them can be commended for making internet access affordable, while others force you to pay for enhanced service. The following six cruise lines are our favorites for fast and/or affordable Wi-Fi onboard.


Updated September 4, 2019

Royal Caribbean

Speed: Great

Cost: Low

Royal Caribbean's VOOM internet is the gold standard when it comes to cruise ship Wi-Fi, with the fastest speeds out there. Some Cruise Critic forum members report speeds of up to 24Mbps, which, believe us, is fast! With Voom, there's not much you can't do. Need to upload pictures to Facebook or Instagram? Not a problem. Want to catch up with your favorite show on Hulu? You can do that, too. From streaming to Wi-Fi calls and VoIP applications on messaging apps, everything is supported.

Access to the internet on Royal Caribbean is tiered and is priced accordingly with prices varying by ship (generally speaking, none of the packages cost more than $20 per day except day passes). The Surf package is the slowest and is best for those who just want to use social media apps or check email. The Surf & Stream package is what supplies the super-fast internet.

Prices for each package are by device (one, two or four), per day with the lowest prices being for those who purchase a four-device plan; single day passes are also available.


Celebrity Cruises

Speed: Great

Cost: High

Celebrity Cruises' Xcelerate unlimited internet is fast enough to enable streaming and VoIP capabilities on a pretty reliable basis. Recent upgrades have increased the speed of the Wi-Fi on Celebrity ships by 70x what it previously was; however, the Internet can still be constrained by the ship's location, as well as by how many people are trying to use the internet at once. Cruise Critic forum members, however, report few problems streaming movies and live sporting events on a consistent basis.

The cost for internet is a bit pricy, starting at $249 on a seven-night cruise. Buying a package before the cruise gets you a 10 percent discount off the onboard price.


Norwegian Cruise Line

Speed: Good to great   

Cost: High

Norwegian Cruise Line's internet ranges in speed, but can go quite fast. Though the line would not divulge its Wi-Fi's top speeds, Norwegian did recently invest to expand its bandwidth by 40 percent in time for the 2018 summer season. Most capabilities are supported, but you have to purchase the correct plan for what you want to do. Only one plan supports streaming, though depending on the ship's location and how many people are online at a time, you might be able to use a basic plan for VoIP apps.

The prices for Norwegian's plans are at the higher end for the cruise industry. For unlimited access to just social media sites, the cost is $14.99 per day ($105/week). An unlimited Wi-Fi package that does not support streaming of any kind (music or video) is $29.99 per day ($210/week), while an unlimited plan that supports streaming is $34.99 per day ($245/week).

You can also pay as you go or purchase a 250-minute package, but neither of these supports streaming. (All packages cost 15 percent less if purchased pre-cruise, and cruises of 13 days or longer receive a small per-day discount.)


MSC Cruises

Close-up shot of an iPad on MSC Divina, as the ship is leaving Miami

Speed: Great on MSC Seaside; average on other ships

Cost: High

MSC Cruises offers high-speed internet on its newest U.S.-based ship, MSC Seaside. (Europe-based MSC Seaview may offer the same speeds, but there are no confirmed reports of this yet.) Speeds for the premium plan are fast enough to support streaming and VoIP, but because MSC offers packages by data, rather than time, using high-data functionalities (like streaming movies or TV shows) will use up your plan rather quickly.

Plans are offered by data level and device usage. At the lower end is a one device, 1.5 gigabyte plan ($50) that's best for checking email and using social media, including posting photos and text messaging. A two device, 3GB plan ($100) and four device, 6GB plan ($160) are best for fuller usage of the internet, with the latter better for anyone looking to stream. (Keep in mind, one hour of streaming on Netflix uses about 1GB of data for SD video or up to 3GB for HD video.)


Silversea Cruises

Speed: Good

Cost: Low (free) for standard; medium for premium

Silversea's standard internet, which is complimentary to all passengers, is generally reliable and supports most basic tasks, but its premium Wi-Fi is where the speed really comes in, generally fast enough to support both streaming and VoIP on a reliable basis. According to the line, Wi-Fi speeds can go as fast as 2.9Mbps -- slow for land-based internet, but at the high end for cruise ships. The average daily speed, of course, is less (the line could not provide a number), as the ship changes position and the number of people connected at any given time goes up or down.

Standard internet is free for everyone on Silversea Cruises, but those staying in larger suites get the premium Wi-Fi for no additional cost. Cruisers with standard who want to upgrade to premium can do so for $29 per day.


Carnival Cruise Line

Speed: Average to Good with the Premium Plan; great on Carnival Horizon

Cost: Low

Carnival Cruise Line has concentrated on making its internet more reliable, leaving its investment in increased bandwidth and speed for its newest ships only (namely Carnival Horizon and Vista). As a result, Carnival's Wi-Fi on most ships tends to be the slowest of the big three cruise lines and is the only one to not support streaming -- you can use VoIP with its top-tier plan (not including FaceTime) but sites like Netflix, Hulu and Spotify are blocked.

Carnival's internet pricing, on the other hand, is the best there is at sea. A Social Wi-Fi plan costs $5 per day and includes access to standard social media sites, as well as messaging apps. The VoIP function of such apps (Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc.) does not work with this plan. The Value Wi-Fi plan costs $12 per day, gives access to most websites and occasionally will be fast enough to support the voice functionality of messaging apps.

The Premium Wi-Fi plan costs $17.70 per day and provides access to everything in the Social and Value plans, but does so at a higher speed (three times that of the Value Plan). It also supports VoIP calling on messaging apps and Skype (but not FaceTime), but be prepared for a noticeable lag time. (Prices are for plans purchased for the duration of the sailing; there is a discount if plans are purchased pre-cruise.)

Find a Cruise

Popular on Cruise Critic

What Not to Forget On a Cruise: 10 Things to Remember to Pack
We all know that sinking feeling when you realize you've left something important behind, whether it's your phone in the car or your wallet at the restaurant you just left. That feeling is much worse when you're on a cruise and discover that you've forgotten something at home. While not every "oops" will upend your cruise, some will, while others can prove to be enough of headache to put a dent in an otherwise great vacation. From A to Z, we list a few critical things not to forget the next time you cruise.
How to Find the Best Cruise Bargains in 2019
It's the end of a decade, 2019, and a lot has changed in the world of cruising -- race cars, haute cuisine, digital everything -- but some tips on how to save on your next sailing stay tried and true. To uncover the best ways to land a cruise bargain this year, we spoke to travel agent experts and consulted industry surveys. What we found is that cruising shows no signs of slowing down, but getting on the right ship to the right destination might mean taking quick action. We've narrowed down the who, what, where and when of finding the best cruise deals in 2019 so you can spend less money and more time enjoying the seas.
7 Ways to Outsmart Deck Chair Hogs
In the wee hours of the morning, under the cover of darkness, they creep. Their flip-flops smack across the pool decks of cruise ships everywhere as they shuffle like a horde of zombies armed with towels, sunscreen and books. If it sounds like a scene from a horror movie, you're on the right track. We're talking about deck chair hogs -- those inconsiderate fellow passengers who rise before the sun to stake out prime poolside real estate, mark it with personal belongings and then abandon it, rendering it useless to others. If you've had enough, we urge you to stand up to these selfish sunbathers and claim the deck chair that's rightfully yours. Join the peaceful revolution by employing the following seven tips for outsmarting deck chair hogs.

Find a Cruise