Carnival Corp Adds New Cruise Ship Wifi Network Across Entire Fleet

The internet cafe on the Carnival Ecstasy.
The internet cafe on the Carnival Ecstasy.

New cruise ship wifi network will be faster, more reliable and provide stronger connectivity.

Timing is everything. I received Carnival Corporation’s news release about their new WiFi@Sea™ high-speed cruise ship wifi network while I was onboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, logged into their wifi. At the same time, I was trying to upload a new Queen Mary 2 photo to Facebook. Not impossible, just slow.

The press release I received stated, “With connectivity speeds that can be roughly 10 times faster than ever before, passengers will be able to share their cruise experience via Internet, email and social media in real time.” Timing really is everything.

As someone who relies on the internet while at sea and has visited a zillion internet cafés in ports around the world, I’m excited for this new and improved network.

Carnival’s goal is to revolutionize how millions of its passengers stay in touch during their cruise. It’s also an enticement to lure the tech-savvy millennial generation to experience a cruise and stay connected.

Here’s the low-down on what Carnival Corp. has been working on and will eventually roll out to all 101 of its ships across all nine cruise brands.

This new network, WiFi@Sea™ combines and relays three different means of wifi broadcasting; land-based antennas, portside wifi connections and satellite transmission. It will provide ships with a seamless way to connect and reconnect with their movement, whether in port, cruising between islands and near land or totally out to sea.

You can see from the infographic how this is meant to work. For me, anything is an improvement. I’ve been using wifi on ships when it was necessary to bring your own Ethernet cord to connect.

There has been improvement in speed and reliability since the early days, but it’s still slow, drops off, live streaming is nearly impossible and downloading a movie or TV show will burn through purchased minutes in no time.

“This is a major technology breakthrough designed to enhance the cruise experience for our passengers,” said Ramon Milan, senior vice president and global chief information officer for Carnival Corporation. “For those who want to stay connected while on vacation, our new network will help them do so, whether that means checking email or posting pictures to their social media sites.

Following the initial launch in North America in fourth quarter of this year for ships sailing in the Caribbean, Carnival Corporation is scheduled to rollout the technology across the globe.

Under the current plan, the expansion will continue with Alaska in summer of 2015 and will extend to the Mediterranean, Baltic, Western European and Asian regions in 2015 and 2016.

The technology will eventually be available on all nine of the company’s leading global brands – AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises UK, P&O Cruises Australia, Princess Cruises and Seabourn.

Pricing will vary by brand upon service rollout.

Cruise Maven’s Cruise Tip: Until and unless unlimited minutes packages are available, always look for Embarkation Day internet package promotions for complimentary minutes. Also, some cruise lines offer night-before debarkation packages.

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