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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cruise Tip: Good Internet Connections

In our technologically advanced age, cruise ship passengers frequently need Internet access for a variety of reasons ranging from keeping in touch with family back home to staying on top of work.

Cruise ships now tend to be pretty good about providing Internet cafes and “hot spot” areas on board where people with laptop computers equipped with wireless devices can go to get a connection via a vessel’s satellite system. This can be very expensive, however, sometimes as much $1 a minute, so most people will want to adjust their online habits accordingly. Things to consider include:

* When you are online, either read through your email messages quickly or download them so that you can read them offline at your leisure.

* If you have your own laptop, draft responses to your email messages in Word or another program and then copy-and-paste them when online.

* Forget out time-intensive pursuits like Facebook when you are paying for an expensive Internet connection and wait until you can get a free or cheap one.

It is possible to avoid spending too much for onboard if you are patient, clever, and energetic, as follows:

* When in port, it is sometimes possible to pick up an Internet connection from nearby businesses ashore! This usually depends on being on the side or end of the ship closest to shore, however, can take some prowling around for a good spot, and is by no means a sure thing.

* Most port areas now have Internet cafes or other business with connections. Sometimes these are free for customers, and it can be nice to get online and spend an hour catching up in some Caribbean watering hole for the cost of a few beers. Sometimes such connections are just much more reasonably priced than onboard (e.g., $5 to $10 an hour).

Also, consider the very real possibility that people working on computers in public areas onboard ship might be doing so because there is nowhere else they can get a good Internet connection — or, possibly, just because the like the ambience —and that they don’t want to interact with other people. It can be really aggravating to be paying an exorbitant rate to be online and be constantly approached by people who have casual questions about the cost or quality of Internet connectivity.

Be sure to also check out Cruise Tip: Eating and Drinking Ashore!