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Soon, Cruise Ships Will Have Wi-Fi That Actually Works

By 2016, all Carnival ships will have expanded Wi-Fi capability. New service will be up to 10 times faster than the current standard—comparable to the Wi-Fi speed at your average coffee shop. The service will consist of a combination of land-based Wi-Fi in port and satellite-based at sea.

So far, Carnival has not announced how much it will charge for the expanded Wi-Fi service. Instead, said a spokesperson, each individual brand will set pricing policy.

Carnival isn’t first with expanded shipboard Wi-Fi. Earlier this year, Royal Caribbean announced high-speed onboard Wi-Fi on its new Quantum of the Seas, based on a steerable satellite feed. But Carnival is upping the ante with its fleet-wide deployment.

Carnival is clearly bowing to the tsunami of demand for Wi-Fi everywhere. Wi-Fi has become a virtual necessity in hotels, it is rapidly becoming near-universal on airplanes, Amtrak makes it available to 85 percent of its riders, premium bus lines offer it, and cruise lines are the next step. You might think that people choose to cruise in part to get away from it all, but that obviously doesn’t extend to keeping connected online.

One big question remains: How much will it cost? Currently, on three ships, Carnival charges $39.99 per complete voyage for a low-speed connection or $99.99 per voyage for faster service; costs are higher on some other cruise lines. Onboard Wi-Fi won-t be free any time soon. But if you gotta be connected, you gotta be connected, regardless of the cost. Live with it.

Would you pay for Wi-Fi on a cruise?

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