The Travel Professor
Join me on a journey across the broad spectrum of interesting travel topics. We’ll discuss destinations domestic and abroad, some familiar and some off the beaten path. We take a look at suppliers like cruise lines, air carriers and tour operators and find their bargains and special offerings. Got questions? Email

Monday, October 13, 2008

More on staying connected at sea

For those cruise guests who want the option of staying connected to the rest of the world most of the major cruise lines provide Internet access in their onboard Internet Cafés and wireless networks using the ships own satellite connection. These Internet Cafés are generally open 24 hours a day and features private terminals with the latest flat panel computer monitors. You will have the ability to send and receive e-mail, chat online and access the full Internet. You can also access your own e-mail account through major providers Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, AOL, etc. Cruises lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean also provide their cruise passengers the option of creating their very own “vanity” temporary cruise e-mail account.

Wireless Internet access is available aboard many fleets. Depending on the vessel, you’ll have either limited wireless access in and around the shipboard Internet café and select public areas or a complete bow to stern wireless network. This bow to stern network allows cruisers to enjoy Internet access from literally anywhere on the boat, including all public areas, lounges, bars and pool decks, guest suites and cabins. To take full advantage of this feature, guests should bring their personal laptops along with them, as the number of laptops available for rent onboard is limited. In addition, this network provides supports the latest Wi-Fi enabled iPhones, Palm Pilots and BlackBerry’s.

The current Internet Café price options for Carnival Cruise Lines starts with an initial one-time activation fee of $3.95 for each user. Then you have several package options to select from. Please note that all the Internet pricing options are identical, whether you use an Internet Café terminal or your laptop.

The basic al la carte package has a pay as you go charge of $0.75 per minute available and minutes will be rounded up to the next full minute. Discounted bulk time plans are available and these average from $0.40 to $0.55 per minute. You do have to purchase these in a block program ranging from 30 minutes up to 250 minutes. Also note that there is no refund for unused minutes, upgrading of selected pricing options is not available and plans are subject to change.

Be sure to check with your cruise line, booking agent and cell service provider before you lug your electronic devices along. I would also check with the tourism offices in the destinations to be visited and see if they can provide any insight on local Internet cafés.

Happy travels!