Do YOU stay online when on board, or do you want to leave it all behind?

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Cruise lines have invested millions in the past few years in providing improved Internet access on board their vessels.
From begrudgingly installing a couple of dusty terminals in a corner of the library, they have extended access to ship-wide wifi, greater and faster bandwidth, and even to renting out tablets and laptops.
They have responded to demand from passengers who – while taking a break from the burden of office emails – want to keep in touch with their friends on Twitter and Facebook, to share picture postcards of their travels, and to check-in online for their flight home at the end of the cruise.
But if we are to believe the results of a survey carried out among British cruise passengers, they have been wasting their money.
Of more than 1,100 UK adults who have taken a cruise within the last 18 months, almost two-thirds said they preferred to avoid the internet while on holiday because they “want to stay relaxed” and avoid “any stress and anxieties from the outside world.”
A third felt that by maintaining contact with their social media contacts, they would not be able to enjoy their holiday to the full, and 20 per cent were deterred by the high cost of shipboard internet access.
The majority of participants in the survey (59%) said they had sent only ‘two or three texts’ during their last trip. One in five said they had made at least one phone call a week while one in 10 said they had no contact with the outside world during their voyage.
Just 36% had used the Internet to post to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Steph Curtin, of online cruise agent bonvoyage.co.uk, who commissioned the survey, said: “The fact that many cruise ships now come fully equipped with internet cafes, Wi-Fi hotspots and crystal clear mobile-phone reception may seem like a step in the right direction for many passengers. Having said that, this improvement to technology clearly isn’t to all cruise passengers’ preference, as the findings in this study highlight.”
I have a feeling opinions are changing and the 1,102 passengers aged between 24 and 78 who took part in the survey will soon find themselves outnumbered by Internet power users – especially as the cost of access reduces and in some cases is included in the fare.
On board Norwegian Getaway last week, I saw lots of passengers using kiosks to post selfies to Twitter and Facebook – at no cost to themselves.
Internet access is essential to me when I am travelling, but I am by no means a typical passenger.
However, more and more travellers are keen to impress friends and family back home with electronic postcards of the view from the balcony or even the cocktail in the bar and the steak on the plate. Even if they are determined to avoid work emails, they want to be able to keep up with the gossip from back home.
And it’s not just about using the ship’s own Internet centre. Laptops, tablets and smartphones are essential travelling companions. Canny users will also take them ashore to find a bar or cafe offering free wifi if they want to avoid paying extra charges on the ship.
It will be interesting to see how results have changed if bonvoyage.co.uk repeat their survey in a couple of years’ time.
Do YOU stay online when you’re on board? Or do you leave your Smartphone at home? I’d love to know what you think.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:27+00:00 13 March 2014|Cruise news, Cruise views|4 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

4 Comments

  1. Lee 13 March 2014 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    This is nonsense.
    The reason why people do not go online much is due to the high cost and slow speeds.
    10 years ago, the speed was in fact faster!
    Cruiselines should be encouraging internet use and the ability to post to social networks.
    A person showing themselves having a good time on a ship is a far more powerful advert than anything else and is likely to encourage others to cruise.
    Hotels are slowing offering free internet, it is time ships did the same.

  2. carolyn 13 March 2014 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Well said Lee. We like to stay in touch with our kids and grandkids when we’re away and also post photos. Thank goodness we do get 250 free minutes now with Princess as Platinum members, but its very slow. When we go ashore we usually go where the crew goes for free wifi. It’s a ridiculous money grab worldwide. If airports can do it now for free so should hotels and cruise ships.

  3. David Thomas 14 March 2014 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Because I don’t need the Internet at sea, I only use it when it is offered as a perk. Cunard gives my wife and me four hours each per cruise. It is often very slow and at times it doesn’t work at all, such as in the Norwegian fjords. I certainly wouldn’t pay for it.

  4. Jill Ball (GeniAus) 15 March 2014 at 10:19 am - Reply

    One of the reasons I travel on Regent Seven Seas almost exclusively is because I have qualified for unlimited free internet access (it is slow).
    I was recently on a Royal Caribbean ship for a conference – the number one complaint from members of the 250 strong group I travelled with was the exhorbitant per minute cost for sloooow internet connections.
    If I go on a cruise for a month or two I need to be able to connect with friends and colleagues. We are living in the 21st century.

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