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You Don’t Need to Pay For Wi-Fi To Use a Cruise Line App – Here’s Why

If you have booked a cruise you may find that the cruise line you are sailing with encourage you to use their app. 

You may be asked to download it pre-cruise or it may only be available onboard.

Cruise lines do this because they can easily share information with you and it saves them time and money on printing and paper costs. It helps guests too, as they can find the information they need quickly and conveniently and it may save them from having to go to the reception onboard ship to ask a question.

Costa cruises app
Costa cruises app

Do You Need to Pay for Wi-Fi on a Cruise to Use Their App?

You don’t have to pay for the cruise ship Wi-Fi package to use the cruise lines App. You need to connect to the cruise ship’s Wi-Fi to get to the app and download the information, but this is free.

You will not be able to use their Wi-Fi as normal – look at other web pages, emails, social media etc.  If you want to do that, you will have to pay for a Wi-Fi package.

How do Cruise Ship Apps work?

Some Apps can be downloaded from your phone’s App store in the normal way. 

Others, like P&O and Marella, are just websites you visit when you are onboard ship.

Top Tip: If your cruise line has a downloadable App, download it from the App Store to your phone prior to boarding!  Otherwise, you may be reliant on mobile data to download it, and if you are on a ship you may not have signal.

Mobile data may also cost you money, depending on where you are from in the world and what your Mobile/Cell phone package allows for.

I remember my Mum desperately trying to download the Disney Cruise ship App with mobile data by holding her phone out over the edge of the top deck – totally unsuccessfully! (Luckily I had managed to download the App myself and was able to tick/check that box to say she had watched the muster video.  Plan ahead and save yourself the stress!)

What Information Will You Find on The Cruise Lines App?

The apps vary greatly from one cruise line to another – and some are far better than others!  

Costa cruises app
Costa cruises app

Most apps will allow you to:

  • Keep up to date with what is going on onboard – instead of having a paper daily schedule you may find activities, times, and locations on the app.
  • Purchase things like internet packages, speciality meals, and spa treatments.
  • Complete your “virtual” muster drill rather than going to your muster station in person and listening to a crew member telling you all about safety procedures.  Standing out on a promenade deck in a lifejacket can be tiring and unpleasant in hot or cold weather!

To learn more about the new style muster drill that most cruise lines have kept since the COVID shutdown, check out this post: Muster Drills Have Changed For The Better (REVIEW of New After Covid Process)

  • Reserve a table in one of the restaurants. This can be far more convenient if the ship doesn’t have fixed dining times. It can save you from arriving at a restaurant and then having to hang about until they have a free table for you.
  • Keep an eye on your onboard account as you go along, and check the final bill at the end.
  • Some cruise lines have a free onboard chat feature that helps you communicate with other members of your party onboard.  Handy for meeting up and making arrangements!
  • Princess’s App even allows you to order drinks or snacks directly to where you are onboard!
Costa cruises app
Costa cruises app

What do You Need to Pay For – And What is Free?

Free to UseExtra Charge
Using the cruise lines app to check the daily schedule, deck plans, onboard spending etc.Social media, webpages, sending emails etc.

To do the things marked extra charge above you will need to purchase a WiFi package. There will be different packages available, and the cost of these varies greatly from one cruise line to another.

Sample WiFi packages would be:

  • A cheap ‘messaging only’ package that only allows access to websites like Whatsapp
  • A mid-tier ‘social and email’ package that allows access to certain websites but not general internet browsing.
  • A higher tier that allows access to. all websites including streaming videos.
wifi package example
wifi package example

Some cruise lines have chargeable chat features in their Apps. 

Royal Caribbean have just made their chat feature free, along with MSC and Costa but at the time of writing, others, like Carnival still charge. 

App or WebpageChat App
Royal CaribbeanAppYes (Free)
Norwegian Cruise LineAppYes (Paid $10 per user)
Costa CruisesAppYes (Free)
Princess CruisesAppYes (Free)
Carnival CruisesAppYes (Paid $5 per user)
P&O (UK)WebpageNo
P&O (Australia)AppYes (Free)
MSCAppYes (Free)
Celebrity CruisesAppYes (Free)
Disney Cruise LineAppYes (Free)

There Are Other Ways to Communicate with Your Group Whilst Cruising

If you don’t wish to use the cruise ship App or they charge for onboard messaging, there are plenty of other ways to keep in touch with other members of your party.   

Check out the article below to see other ideas and options available:

Top Tip! You will probably need to turn off mobile data on your Mobile/Cell phone to load the cruise lines App.  If you have the data on, your phone will try and load the page using that – and won’t be able to. 

It is a bit of a bit annoying, to keep switching between Mobile Data and the ship’s Wi-Fi all the time when in port but on most phones its the only way to make the cruise lines app work.

Is a Ship’s Wi-Fi Any Good?

People often ask me “Is a ship’s Wi-Fi any good? Will I be able to work from the ship?”. It’s a difficult one to answer because cruise ship WiFi is not dependable.

I have been on some ships where it is great and I’ve even been able to watch YouTube videos without problems and I’ve been on others where it is worse than useless!

There are lots of factors that go into if the WiFi is good on a ship, the location of the ship matters as does how many other people on the ship are trying to use the WiFi.

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

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This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.