Carnival’s New Long-Range WiFi Service Keeps Passengers Connected – For A Hefty Price

For the past several years consumers traveling on cruise ships have shared a wealth of information and photos (remember the Poop Cruise?) while on their memorable voyages. Well, sharing their experiences – good and bad – with family, friends and the internet at large just got a bit easier, as long as you’re willing to pay a hefty WiFi charge.

Bloomberg Buisnessweek reports that Carnival will begin equipping its 101 ships with its new “WiFi@Sea” service.

The “smart hybrid” mix of technologies is expected to offer speeds up to 10 times faster than those currently on ships by merging a variety of wireless signals such as satellite, long-range WiFi, and WiFi from ports.

Carnival says the system should be effective at transmissions as far as 40 miles out to sea. While the company says that 50% of its cruises operate within 50 miles of the shore, when the ship is farther out to sea the wireless service will be handled completely by satellite.

Officials with the cruise line say the new service is comparable to what consumers might find in restaurants and bars. But unlike many bars and restaurants that offer complimentary WiFi access, Carnival is charging a pretty penny to connect users to the outside world.

Travelers using the service will be charged a $3.95 connection fee and $0.75 per minute. However, packages will also be available for purchase; for $55 you can get 100 minutes of internet time, or 250 minutes for $100.

By comparison, Businessweek reports that Regent Seven Seas Cruises will begin offering free internet access to most passengers in 2015. However, it’s unclear how fast the Seven Seas’ wifi connection will be.

The new Carnival service is scheduled to begin with Alaska cruises next summer and then expand to Carnival’s excursions in the Mediterranean, Baltic, Western European, and Asian regions in late 2015 and 2016.

Carnival Wants to Make Onboard Wi-Fi Worth the High Price [Bloomberg Businessweek]

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