Are you planning or have you booked your next Carnival Cruise? If so, one of the next things you might be thinking about is whether to buy the Carnival WiFi package?
My suggestion is yes, but it very much depends on your own needs which I’ll cover in the article.
Ship Wifi can be expensive. So, I want to cover all the options and questions that you might have about the Carnival internet package. I will also provide you with some money-saving tips as well.
While researching this article, I found out that onboard wifi is a hot topic with lots of questions. Most of these are on cost and what you can and cannot do, depending on the plan you have purchased.
I wanted to cover every potential question you might have. As a result, I actually spent over eight hours on this article to make sure these details were correct.
So here goes…
Carnival’s Wi-Fi Packages Explained
How much does Internet Access on Carnival Cruise Ships cost?
Carnival WiFi costs anywhere from $12.75 to $30 US Dollars. This price is per day and depends on what Internet packages you buy.
If you book and pay for the Carnival cruise Internet Plans before boarding, you will save 15% on the prices that you would pay onboard.
Your daily price also is lower if you book Internet for your full vacation rather than a single-day plan.
What Internet Plans are available on Carnival WiFi?
Carnival offers three different types of Internet plans: Social, Value, and Premium. All of them are for only one device.
The standard price of these plans is on a “per person, per day” basis, for the full duration of your cruise.
If you only need Internet for certain days, they also offer a “24-hour plan“. You can only buy this on board and is only available for the Value and Premium Plans.
The three Carnival internet plans are quite different. To find out what is included let’s take a look at each plan in detail.
The Social Wi-Fi Plan
The Social wifi plan is the lowest cost package or the three Carnival cruise internet plans. This plan limits access to the most popular social media networks. These are : Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Linkedin. You can also access social media messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and Snapchat. No video calls though!
Access to popular airline sites is also available. This allows you to check in for your flight near the end of your entire cruise.
The price for the Social package is $12.75 per day if you order it before boarding. If you wait until you sail, the price increases to $15.
This price is for the entire trip. A seven-day trip, for example, would cost $89.25 per person (assuming you booked in advance).
Unfortunately, you cannot buy a 24-hour pass for the Social wifi plan.
The Value Wi-Fi Plan
The Value wifi plan includes everything in the Social plan, PLUS access to your favorite websites. Please note, however, that it does not support video or music streaming!
The price for the Value package is $17 if ordered before boarding. The price is $20 if you wait until you get on board.
Total cost for a one-week vacation would be $119
This plan is also available on a 24-hour pass and the cost is $22 per day.
The Premium WiFi Plan
The Premium wifi is a faster service than the value plan. In fact, the premium internet package is three times faster than the Value plan. The premium wifi plan also allows you to access most websites as well as watch youtube videos, music streaming and other services. It will also support Skype, Zoom and Teams video calling on this wifi plan. The company does state that this is “where coverage allows”.
The Premium package is available before boarding at a price of $18.70 per person per day. The price jumps to $22 if you wait until you get on board.
Again, for a seven-day trip, you would be looking at a total of $130.90
For the 24-hour pass, the daily costs jump to $30. This could save you money if you only need access on specific days.
What is the cheapest time to buy Carnival WiFi?
The cheapest time to buy Carnival Cruises WiFi is any time up to the day before you are due to board the ship. You will get a 15% discount off the standard onboard pricing.
It’s important to note though that the cut-off for the 15% discount is 11:59 PM EST the day before embarkation. Don’t leave it until the last minute!
Is Carnival’s WiFi ever on sale or discounted?
To the best of my knowledge, Carnival never offers sale prices on their Internet plans. The 15% pre-boarding discount is the best price you will get on any of the Carnival internet packages! Of course, you can never say never, and they may do as at some point in the future.
Is Cruise WiFi Worth It?
I have probably lost count of the number of times people have asked me if it is worth it to buy Wi-Fi?
The short answer is No. The long and probably more correct answer is: It depends!
The reason is that it all depends on your own needs. Cruise ship Wi-Fi is way more expensive than what we are used to paying at home. For many folks, the price can become a good reason to unplug from the Internet.
Of course, I can hear your teenage kids screaming from here, so again the answer depends on your own family’s needs.
The other thing to consider is that Cruise ship Internet can be slow, sometimes painfully slow! So it can be a frustrating experience.
There is good news though! Carnival is currently rolling out an upgrade to its Internet access. This uses technology from Elon Musk’s Starlink company. This definitely makes the Internet experience much more bearable – more on that later.
Personally, I need Internet access for my business. So I always pre-purchase it ahead of boarding and treat it as a business expense.
You can of course get creative and only book a 24-hour plan when you are on sea days. Then use Free Wi-Fi from a local bar or restaurant on port days.
Can I use my mobile data plan to connect to the Internet?
No, you should not, as it will most likely cost you a LOT of money due to the high costs for “roaming”.
Roaming is the extra cost mobile providers charge when you are connecting via another country or network.
Once you leave your local departure port, you will soon be out of reach of local mobile cell towers. So unless you have roaming switched off in your phone’s settings, you will be automatically connected to the Ship’s own mobile network. The costs for this are eye-watering.
One unsuspecting family in Europe got hit with a massive bill of around $14,000. Their son had been watching a few videos on his phone while connected to the ship’s network. Although they were in the European Union (EU), they didn’t realize that the EU’s abolition of roaming charges didn’t apply to vessels at sea!
Can I use my mobile phone to call home?
Unless your mobile phone plan includes some form of International plan or “cruise cover”, the costs for these calls will be expensive. So always check what the charges might be with your provider.
Remember that even though you might not make any calls, you will be charged for receiving calls or text messages (depending on your network).
Can I buy a “cruise plan” for my mobile phone?
Yes, you can.
AT&T for example offers the AT&T Cruise Package which has a set fee of $100 for a month. This includes unlimited talk time and text messages. The data is capped at 1GB which most users would hit fairly quickly, so I personally wouldn’t recommend this.
How do I avoid mobile phone charges at sea?
The easiest way to do this is to switch your phone onto “airplane mode”. Then go back into personal devices settings and switch Wi-Fi back on and Bluetooth back on. This ensures that your smartphone will continue to work with your other devices correctly.
I would recommend letting friends and family back home know that you will be doing this. Just in case they need to reach you when you are away.
Is there free Wi-Fi on Carnival ships?
You can actually connect to the ship’s Wi-Fi free of charge, but this is only to provide data to Carnival’s Hub App. It won’t let you access any other websites or receive emails.
Carnival’s Hub App provides you with information about the ship. It includes entertainment schedules and deck plans and we found it really useful. You can also order things like spa services, dining reservations, dining menus, and find information on ports of call. I definitely recommend downloading the app before you get on board, as it can be slow to download onboard.
So remember, if you just want access to Carnival’s Hub App and nothing else, you do not need to buy an Internet plan. Access is free!
How do I join Carnival Wi-fi?
To gain access to Wi-Fi once on the Ship is very easy.
Go into our laptop of personal devices wi-fi settings and you will see a list of available wi-fi networks.
The wi-fi network to connect to will be quite obvious and is usually called “Carnival Vista Wi-Fi”. “Carnival Vista Wifi” or “Carnival Guest Wi-Fi”.
Once connected, a prompt will ask you to enter your folio number and your date of birth. Then click login. Click confirm and you are online.
If you are on a laptop and don’t see the prompts, open up your browser and go to carnivalwifi.com
If you have any problems connecting, Guest Services can help you out.
Does Carnival use Starlink and why should I care?
Carnival is currently rolling out Starlink Internet across its entire fleet. This will provide a much better onboard Internet experience than you might have had in the past.
Starlink is Elon Musk’s project to enable fast Internet access anywhere in the world. It uses satellite technology at a much lower cost than was previously possible and at much higher speeds.
Many cruise lines are taking advantage of this technology to upgrade their onboard Internet.
Theoretically, Starlink can provide much faster internet speeds than you might have been used to if you have used cruise ship Internet in the past. However, in practice, cruise IT departments are balancing speeds to ensure access is stable no matter how many passengers are online.
On my last cruise, the onboard Internet had been upgraded to Starlink. For the first time ever on a cruise, I stopped complaining about how poor the Internet download speed was. Sure, it still wasn’t fast, but it was much more stable and much less frustrating. Upload speed had improved a lot as well.
So if you are on the fence about purchasing cruise Wi-Fi based on past experience, check if your ship has upgraded to Starlink.
Which Carnival Ships have Starlink?
At the time of writing (July 11, 2023), 10 Carnival Cruise Ships currently have Starlink.
These ships are:
- Carnival Elation
- Carnival Panorama
- Carnival Celebration
- Carnival Sunrise
- Carnival Valor
- Carnival Venezia
- Carnival Pride
- Carnival Magic
- Carnival Vista
- Mardi Gras
When will the rest of the Carnival Cruise Line fleet have Starlink installed?
Work on rolling Starlink out to the rest of the fleet will be completed later this year.
How Fast Is Carnival’s Wi-Fi Service?
The Internet speeds on Carnival Cruise ships varies from ship to ship. The more modern ships have a better internal network infrastructure on board. This network can cope with the demands of lots of passengers trying to access the Internet all at once.
Typically speeds will vary from 1-2mbps on older ships to 8-10mbps on newer ships. You will notice this especially if they have had Starlink installed.
The core issue with regular Internet access isn’t just the speed. It’s a thing called latency. This is the time it takes for communication between your device and the Internet. This is measured by “ping” speed. At home, your ping speeds will typically be around 40-60 milliseconds.
On standard ship Wi-Fi networks, ping speed is much slower and is usually seen around 700 milliseconds.
This is fundamentally what causes the buffering and the frustration for cruise ship Internet users.
I have tested this myself on Starlink-enabled ships. I ran a speed test and saw ping speeds averaging around 35s, which makes the Internet much more usable.
I was able to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime videos with zero buffering or hitches.
Which Internet Plan Should I Choose?
This is down to your own personal needs. If you have some family that simply cannot be disconnected from Social Media sites, then the Social Plan may be enough for them.
Personally, for the small difference in price between the Value and Premium Plans, I would suggest getting the Premium service.
Do I Have to Buy Access For Every Device?
No, the access is on a Per-Person basis, not per device.
How many devices can you use your internet package with?
You can use the Internet package with as many devices as you need, The Carnival Cruise ship Wi Fi packages are sold on a per-person basis, not per device. However, this means that you can only use one device at a time.
If you have been browsing the Internet on your laptop and then try to access the service on your smartphone, you will be prompted to “Switch Devices”. Your laptop will then automatically be disconnected to allow your smartphone access as it doesn’t allow multiple devices to stay connected.
Can I Share Carnival Cruise Wi Fi packages?
YES! And this is a great way to save money on the wifi package as a family and stay connected.
My wife and share wi fi packages for internet service all the time. I buy Internet access for my business, but anytime I am not using the Internet my wife will ask me “Can I steal your Internet?”. That way we can both catch up on social media.
All she needs to do is to log on using my wifi package access details. She then gets a message saying:-
“Account already in use – Another device is currently using your active internet account”
She then hits the “Switch Device” button and she is all set. You can do this all day long as many times as you need to.
You can even share Internet access with a friend.
Can me and my roommate pick two different packages?
Yes, if you decide that you definitely will need more than one Internet package, you can pick whichever plan suits you individually.
If I decide NOT to buy Wi-Fi, will there be Wi-Fi available at the ports?
Yes. In most ports of call, free wi-fi is readily available in local bars and restaurants.
The ship’s crew are usually your go-to guys here if you need help finding a local Wi-Fi spot. They don’t get free Wi-Fi on board. So usually, their first port of call, when they step off the ship, is to head to their favorite free Wi-Fi spot.
How do I purchase Carnival Cruise WiFi?
If you need Carnival Cruise WiFi for the duration of your cruise, it is best to order it pre-cruise. You will then get a 15% discount over the full price.
Internet plans can be purchased here.
You can also “Gift” an Internet plan to a friend or family member using that same page. All you need to know is their full name and the month of their cruise.
If you decide to wait to buy the plan on board, connect to the ship’s Wi-Fi network. You will then be prompted to select a package. This will be charged directly to your shipboard account.
If I buy a Social or Value Package can I upgrade later?
Yes you can upgrade your package at any time.
Can I get WiFi anywhere on board?
Wi-Fi is not limited to certain areas and can be used anywhere onboard including your stateroom.
Are the Cruise Internet Plans limited to a certain amount of bandwidth per day?
There are no bandwidth restrictions on any of the Internet plans – however, remember that only the Premium plan allows Music and Video streaming.
Do Carnival Cruise Line ships have public computers on board?
Yes they do, so if you didn’t bring your laptop on board and need desktop access, head to the Ship’s Internet Cafe. You can also get unlimited access to free printing if you need any paperwork at any time.
My Itinerary includes a day at Princess Cay – Will I be able to get WiFi at Princess Cay?
No, sadly Carnival guests do not get access to the WiFi at Princess Cay.
What About HALF MOON Cay – Will I be able to get WiFi THERE?
No, there are no Wi-Fi access points in Half Moon Cay.
What does the Wi-Fi package allow you to do? What websites are blocked when using the service?
Like most public Wi-Fi networks, Carnival will block internet service to certain sites which might feature mature or violent content. Similarly, they don’t allow access to gambling sites
Can I Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)?
No, Carnival does not allow the use of VPN’s on their Wi Fi packages. This might be an important point if you plan to do some office work onboard and your office connection relies on a VPN. I know a few people who were caught out by VPN limitations on a recent cruise.
How do I get the best Wi-Fi experience whilst onboard?
The key thing to remember with Cruise ship Wi-Fi is that it is slower than you might be used to at home. To ensure you get the best experience and achieve faster speeds I would recommend switching off background updates to Apps or Operating systems for the period you are on the ship.
These updates can be huge, so they will definitely cause much slower access if they are running in the background as you are browsing.
Which cruise Wi-Fi plan allows me to access my Ring cameras or security devices at home?
For remote video access, you will definitely need the Premium Plan. We were able to keep a remote eye on our property with our Ring devices without any issues on our last cruise.
Some hints and tips when using Carnival Cruise WiFi
- If you need Wi-Fi for the full cruise, always buy your plan in advance to lock in that 15% saving.
- Consider purchasing Wi-Fi only on “At Sea” days and use Free Wi-Fi when you are in port – this can save you a lot of money.
- Share your connection with your family and friends. But remember to agree on a schedule to avoid accidentally cutting your partner’s connection at a crucial point in that Video meeting!
- For just $5 per person (for the whole cruise), you can use the Chat service on the Carnival Hub app. This allows you to keep in touch with friends and family that are on board
Other Frequently Asked Questions About Carnival’s Wi-Fi Packages
Can I Stream Movies/TV on Carnival’s Wi-Fi?
This is where Carnival covers itself if you have a complaint. If you check the details of their Internet Plans online, at no point will they state that they actively support Video or Music streaming.
However, many of the ships are now “Netflix-enabled”. On recent cruises, we have never had any problems accessing Netflix, Amazon Prime, or YouTube when we were using the Premium Plan.
In the past, we would get some stalling and buffering, but on our most recent Starlink-enabled cruise, we didn’t witness any of that.
Can you text on Carnival wifi?
No, but you can use Messaging Apps with any of the Internet Plans.
Can you Use iPhone MESSAGES FREE withOUT PAYING FOR Carnival Wi-Fi?
Yes, Apple’s iMessage system works with the FREE Wi-Fi connection with some limitations. Standard short messages can be sent and received on Carnival Cruise Wi-Fi, even if you have not paid for the service. However, any larger messages or messages with pictures or videos attached cannot be sent or received on the FREE connection.
You can use the service without any limitation on the Premium Plan. If you try to send large images or video clips on the Social and Value plans, it will be very slow or not send at all.
Can you FaceTime on the cruise Wi-Fi?
Yes, you can as long as you have the Premium Plan.
Can you use WhatsApp on Carnival?
Yes, you can use WhatsApp on any of the Internet Plans.
Can you use Tik Tok on Carnival cruise WiFi?
Yes, and even though it is primarily a video-based service, you can use it on all Internet Plans including Social.
Can you use Zoom on a Carnival Cruise?
Yes, but only on the Premium Plan.
Can I Make a Video Chat on Carnival Cruise Line?
Yes, but once again this is only on the Premium Plan.
Can I Work or Do School Work With the Wi-Fi?
This is a difficult one as it really depends on how robust your connection needs to be for your work. I have been able to get work done and access remote computers and devices, but it can be frustrating at times.
Can I get a refund if I have problems using Carnival cruise Wifi?
Officially Carnival state that once you have activated the service on your device, they will not refund you.
However, anecdotal evidence from lots of Facebook groups tells me that they will refund you. Just make sure that you let Guest Services know at the very beginning of the cruise. Don’t wait until day five and claim you have had issues for five days.
Did I miss anything?
Well, I hope that this article has given you the information you were looking for. And I hope it gives you some ideas on how you might save some money on your Carnival Cruise WiFi plan.
If there are still questions you have about Carnival’s Wi-Fi that I haven’t covered, then contact us here or post them in the comments below, and I’ll add them to the article!
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