Tips for Internet Use on your Cruise
You obviously know something about the Internet, or you wouldn’t be reading this article. You especially know that email is the cheapest and most convenient way to communicate with your loved ones from afar.
Internet access is becoming as ubiquitous on cruise ships as the dessert tray, Royal Caribbean ships now provide Internet access to as many as 23,000 cruisers per week, all of the NCL and Princess ships are wired for the Web, and the entire fleets of Carnival Cruise Lines and Renaissance will be Internet enabled by the end of the 2000.
The advance in the last two years for access to the Web from cruise ships and their destinations worldwide is nothing short of amazing. Not only are there Internet cafes on many cruise ships today, a cybercafe can be found in almost any port worldwide — we’ve connected everywhere from Poland to Papeete, Tahiti in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!
Whether on board or in port, here are our recommendations on how to get the most out of the Internet while on your cruise vacation.
Since you are already on the Internet you probably have an email address, but take a look at how you access your email. If you typically access your email through work and use MicroSoft Outlook or another type of email software (Netscape Messenger or Eudora for example) then the Internet connection on the ship may not be able to access your email account because there are settings that need to be made to the email software to gain access to your email server. It is possible that it will be able to access it, but there are many variables involved. There is a website called www.mailstart.com that will try to connect to your email account regardless of your address. It is a very clever system and it works well.
The surest method to guarantee that you will be able to receive email aboard a ship is to use a “Web-based” email service that you can access through a Web site, for example Hotmail or Yahoo email services. If you are a registered user of Yahoo then you may already have an email address that you are not aware of which will be your email@example.com. If you want to sign up for a Hotmail account (the service is owned by MicroSoft) all you need to do is visit the Web site at www.hotmail.com. You can arrange to have your office email forwarded to this Web based email address.
If you are an America Online subscriber, you’ll find that the actual AOL service is rarely available on the computers of cybercafes outside of the United States. Some cruise ships have it on their computers on-board, but most do not. Access to your AOL email is still available at the AOL Web site http://www.AOL.com on the Internet. Before you leave, be absolutely sure or to write down your username and password to take with you on the cruise since you will need it to log in. Many people on ships and in cybercafes can’t get into their email accounts simply because they have had AOL.
Also remember to take the email addresses of everyone that you will want to be contacting while you’re on your cruise. You won’t have access to your AOL address book online when you are accessing mail from the AOL.com Web site. The same is true of the URLs of all of your favorite places on the Web. Be sure to write them down.
Connecting to the Internet from a cruise ship can be expensive: expect to pay between $10 to $25 per hour. A more affordable option is to visit a cybercafe in port. Finding a cybercafe is usually a simple process. Ask a crew member aboard the ship — they often use email to keep in touch with friends and family. Ask at the local tourist information office. We have even seen cybercafes appearing on the list of recommended stores handed out by the cruise ships when they reach port. In the Caribbean expect to pay between $4 to $8 per hour.
Local hotels also often offer Internet access if they have a business center available to their guests. This is usually a more expensive option than a cybercafe, generally about the same price as on-board a cruise ship.
Everyone loves to see pictures but sending a digital picture by email can be complicated. You’ll find that many of the Internet cafes on ships do not provide you with the method to load the picture from your camera into the computer that is connected to the Internet. There are many different ways to load a digital picture from a camera to a computer including floppy disks, USB connections and PC card inputs. Crystal Cruise Lines ships will allow you to use the floppy disk input on their computers, however this is not true on Royal Caribbean.
If your heart is set on sending vacation photos to friends and family, plan on doing it from a cyber cafe ashore that will allow you to use the floppy drive. If you’re not a pro at doing this, just ask the cafe’s employees for help — in my experience, they’re true geeks who are ready to lend a hand.