Find Out How To Cut Your Family’s Cruise Ship WiFi Costs by Half (And MORE) With This Simple Mobile Phone Hack

By Alan
Last Update:
Filed Under: Cruise WiFi, Hotspot

Cruise vacations are a great way to relax and see new places. However, staying connected while at sea can get expensive. Cruise lines charge high rates for Internet access, especially if you need to connect multiple devices.

But there’s a clever way to save money: you can use your phone as a “WiFi hotspot“. This allows you to share a single internet connection with friends and over multiple devices, making it a cost-effective solution for families and groups.

BUT…..Here’s the kicker – this only works for certain phone models, and the ubiquitous iPhone isn’t one of them.

This is why many people don’t know about this – like me, they try to setup a hotspot on their iPhones and it doesn’t work, so they give up trying, end of story!

This Internet-Savvy Mom Was Saving A fortune

Up until now I had always owned an iPhone. The hotspot never worked in the past so I never thought to try it on my new Android phone that I had just started using.

But a couple of cruises ago, my wife Morag mentioned to me that she had been speaking to a Mom who was sharing her cruise WiFi connection with her four kids and her partner using just one WiFi package – and she had the exact same phone as me!

She had saved over $750 on what it would have cost for WiFi packages for the whole family for that 7 day cruise!

So I tried it and sure enough it worked!

Now I am sure you are keen to find out how to do this and what phones it works with. All it needs is one person in your group to have the right phone and you could all save a ton of $$$.

So let’s get started!

In this article, I’ll explain why this works for some smartphones but not others. We’ll also explore how to set up your phone as a hotspot, the benefits, and some considerations to keep in mind.

Now, I’ve said it is a simple hack, and trust me, once you’ve done it, you’ll be wondering why you never tried it before. But to fully understand what’s going on, we do need to get a teeny bit technical.

Understanding the Basics Of Using a Hotspot for Cruise Ship Wifi

First of all let’s cover the basics.

What is a hotspot?

A hotspot is a phone feature that lets you share its internet connection with other devices. The feature was added to phones to allow you to share your cellular data connection with other devices via WiFi.

In essence, your phone becomes its own little WiFi network, using its cellular connection to communicate with the Internet.

Sherry From Whistleout TV does a great job of explaining what a “hotspot” is.

Why use a hotspot on a cruise?

Using a hotspot on a cruise can save you a lot of money. Instead of buying multiple WiFi packages for each person in your family, or for each separate device you own, you can buy just one package and share it.

This way, everyone in your family and all their devices can stay connected without spending a fortune.

Benefits of Using Your Phone as a Hotspot

Massive Cost Savings

The biggest advantage is saving money. WiFi packages on cruises can be pricey, especially if you need to connect multiple devices. By using your phone as a hotspot, you only need to purchase one package, which can be shared among your devices.

For example, Carnival Cruise Wifi costs anywhere from $15 to $25 per day per device. So for a seven day cruise for a family of four, you could be looking at anywhere from $420 to $700, and that’s assuming they just want to use one device at a time each.

Imagine if you could slash those costs to between $105 to $175, for the whole family!

The convenience of A Shared Connection

A single WiFi connection can be shared with family members or friends. This ensures everyone can stay connected without breaking the bank and without having to swap logins all day long.

Browsing the Internet on a cruise ship

Use The WifI On More Than One Device At The Same Time

With a hotspot, multiple devices can connect to the internet at the same time. This is perfect for families who need to connect phones, tablets, and laptops.

Here’s Where We Have To Get a Little Bit Technical

Okay, I mentioned at the start, there was one great big “BUT” in all this – you need to have the right model of phone.

You Need A Mobile Phone With Dual WiFi Radios

The reason for this is that in order to to use your phone as a hotspot on a cruise, your device must have dual WiFi radios.

You need one WiFi radio to connect to the ship’s WiFi network, and you need another WiFi radio to create the “hotspot” WiFi network that your family will connect to.

This technology allows your phone to connect to the cruise ship’s WiFi and broadcast that connection as its own WiFi hotspot simultaneously.

Unfortunately, not all phones have this capability. Currently, this feature is available only on certain Android devices. All current iPhone models may or may not have dual WiFi radios, but the operating system doesn’t support their use, thats for sure.

Why regular Smartphone hotspots won’t work

Regular hotspot options on phones are designed to share cellular data connections rather than WiFi connections. Without dual WiFi radios, your phone can’t simultaneously connect to the ship’s WiFi and broadcast a hotspot.

How To Know Which Android Smartphone Models That Feature Dual WiFi Radios

It’s actually hard to pin this down as many of the manufacturers don’t specifically list this feature.

The Google Pixel Fold is the phone I personally use, so I know this works. I’ve used it on three past cruises.

Google Pixel Fold – The Phone That Persuaded Me To Switch From iPhone

Based on speaking to friends I know that the Google Pixel 8 Pro also works as a cruise WiFi Hotspot. Other phones that have been mentioned to me as being compatible are the Samsung Galaxy models from S20 upwards.

What I plan to do, if enough people comment on this, is to compile a list of compatible phone models – so if yours works – let me know in the comments!

How Can You Test If Your Android Phone Works As A Cruise WiFi Hotspot?

You can actually test this at home, and you will need the android phone you want to check and one other device – this can be another phone, laptop or tablet.

  1. First of all switch all devices to Airplane mode – that just ensures there is no chance of any cellular data coming through.
  2. Now connect your Android phone to your home Internet as normal. Check you can browse the Internet, so that we know we have an active internet connection.
  3. Now go into your Android’s phone Settings – > Network and Internet -> Hotspot and tethering – tap on the WiFi Hotspot option
  4. In here you can check the hotspot settings and change the hotspot name to something easy to recognize and set a suitable password – this is the password the people you are sharing with will need to enter when they connect to your hotspot.
  5. Now go back to your airplane mode settings and double check that it is still switched on.
  6. Now use a different device and go into the WiFi settings for that device and select the Hotspot name you made earlier (you should see it listed on the available networks) – Enter the password and you should be connected.
  7. Now try to open an Internet browser on that device to check if you can access the Internet. If you can then great, your phone is compatible.
Android WiFi Hotspot settings screenshot
Hotspot Settings on Android

Reminder: If your phone model works, please comment below and let me know what model it was and I will add it to our list.

Potential Drawbacks and Considerations

Your Family and Friends Need To Be Near The Hotspot

Hotspots have limited range, so if Dad wanders off to grab a Pizza at Sorrento’s while Mom is browsing TikTok by the pool deck, he better bring her back an extra slice as she is going to be p#ssed LOL.

The Battery On The Phone Running The Hotspot Will Run Down Quicker

When you phone is running the hotspot, the battery will drain a bit quicker than normal. Not a huge amount, but if the hotspot is running all day, expect you phone to need a top-up charge by early evening.

Limitations of Dual WiFi Radios

Not all Android devices have dual WiFi radios, so this method might not be available to everyone. It’s important to check your device’s compatibility before relying on this option.

Bandwidth and Speed Concerns

Sharing a single WiFi connection among multiple devices can lead to slower internet speeds as more devices are competing for the same speed and bandwidth that is allocated to you.

To optimize connection speed, limit the total number of connected devices and manage your bandwidth usage carefully.

You should also be aware that Android phones typically have a limit of no more than 10 connections to a single hotspot.

Alternative Options

iPhone browsing cruise compass

Other Ways to Save on Cruise WiFi

If your phone doesn’t support dual WiFi radios, there are other ways to save on cruise WiFi costs:

  • You can potentially use a small portable travel router with a battery power supply (this means you can use it anywhere on the ship) – I am going to test this separately and I’ll do a review if it works well.
TP-Link AC750 Portable Travel Router - This Can Double As A Hotspot
TP-Link AC750 Portable Travel Router – This Can Double As A Hotspot
  • You can use some laptops to do this as well – but having a phone as a hotspot is much more convenient.
  • Purchase a single WiFi package and take turns using it on different devices.
  • Look for ports with free or low-cost internet access once you get off the ship.
  • Use local SIM cards or portable WiFi devices when off the ship.
  • Use the Free Text “hack” which allows iPhones to send text-based iMessages to other iPhones using the ship’s free WiFi connection

Conclusion

Using your phone as a hotspot for cruise WiFi can be a game-changer, helping you stay connected while saving money. By ensuring your phone has dual WiFi radios and following the steps to check that it works, you can share a single WiFi package with multiple devices.

Remember to consider potential limitations and explore alternative options if needed.

Lastly. if you are making a purchasing decision about a phone – I can’t stress enough that you need to confirm these specs yourself. Buyer beware.

Happy cruising and staying connected!

FAQs

Can I use this method with any smartphone?

No, this method only works with Android devices that have dual WiFi radios. Most iPhones and many standard Android phones do not support this feature.

Will using a hotspot affect my internet speed?

Yes, sharing a single connection among multiple devices can slow down the internet speed. To maintain a good connection, limit the number of connected devices and manage bandwidth usage.

How Many Devices Can Share My Connection

Android phones have a limitation of 10 hotspot connections, but I’m not sure how the performance would be with that many connections

Are there any other ways to save on cruise WiFi?

Yes, you can share a single WiFi package among multiple users, look for free internet in port, or use local SIM cards and portable WiFi devices when available.

Do the Devices Connecting To My Hotspot Need To Be Android Devices As Well?

Absolutely not – you only need the hotspot device to be an Android phone. You can then connect any device, including iphones, laptops, ipads etc.

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AUTHOR

Alan took his first cruise in 1991 and has been cruising ever since. When he is not writing articles for CruiseNonstop.com you'll find him either on a cruise ship (he's the guy in the kilt), or on the golf course!

6 thoughts on “Find Out How To Cut Your Family’s Cruise Ship WiFi Costs by Half (And MORE) With This Simple Mobile Phone Hack”

  1. hey, so if I got like a regular phone and I try this hotspot thing on a cruise, will it even work? i heard from my buddy that cruise wifi is super weird n stuff. not sure how it all works lol. thanks Alan for the cool tips though!!

    Reply
    • Hey TaraG, most regular phones can create hotspots, but the article mentions needing dual WiFi radios for it to work well on a cruise. It’s because of how the cruise’s internet is set up. Not all phones have that feature, so you might wanna check yours.

      Reply
  2. Who uses their phone on a cruise? Shouldn’t you be, like, enjoying the ocean and stuff instead of staring at screens? Seems kinda pointless to me, spending all that effort to save on wifi you shouldn’t use much of anyway.

    Reply
  3. kinda confused here, does this mean i can use my old phone for wifi on a ship? or do i need to get something special? not really big on all these tech stuff but wanna save some bucks if i can, you know. not sure if Alan or anyone else can make it simpler for me, lol.

    Reply
    • It can be a bit tricky, Terry. Some newer models have that feature but not all. Checking your phone specifics might help. Saved a lot last time doing this.

      Reply
    • Hey Terry, basically, you need a phone that has dual WiFi capabilities to share a single cruise wifi connection with more devices. Might wanna check if your phone model supports it. It’s a cool way to save money!

      Reply

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