Several Cruise Lines including Celebrity Cruises have taken the step of offering “Always Included” fares that also cover standard internet on board, leading to passengers constantly playing on their phones and iPad’s.
Unfortunately, this had a rather bad effect as the network (bandwidth) became so overwhelmed with all these users that even the premium internet customers ($200+) now can’t use the WiFi for any meaningful work anymore.
It’s obvious that in the middle of the ocean you can’t expect lightning fast internet but these days the premium “stream” quality internet that cruise lines offers via satellite link has always been very reliable.
That changed when business collapsed due to the pandemic and the cruise companies tried to lure people back on board, offering packages as “all inclusive” as opposed to the previous practice of charging everything extra from beverages to gratuities to internet.
Here is how they advertise it:
Sounds great right? Well, there’s always a catch. Of course these items are in some way priced into the total, even though at the moment cruising is cheaper than pre-pandemic it still evens out somehow.
The downside is that now everyone has free internet and that’s really bad if you expect the network to actually work.
Large cruise ships can take upward of 3000 passengers on board. Right now for example Celebrity only sails at half capacity but if all these people access their social media during the day, having a proper speed through that one satellite link is almost impossible.
And that includes customers who have decided to pay for the premium WiFi that’s supposedly guarantee high speed.
I’m on Celebrity Edge right now which is supposedly their flagship but this internet situation on board is really bad. Plenty of people that are relying on the premium WiFi ($220 for 7 days) to get things done in terms of business of finances on a daily basis are furious that it’s no longer reliable.
It never used to be a problem in the past. Most passengers would shy away from actually purchasing internet at a price that is a quarter of the cruise fare. Now since it’s free there is no hesitation anymore to use it.
The cruise line should have exact numbers based on purchase history of the premium WiFi. Those who have purchased it previously and currently are now going bananas on board because they can no longer work or watch the news. The crew is also stressed because they have to deal with these complaints all the time.
This is an excellent example of how a bad marketing decision leads to problems on the operational side and an avalanche of complaints as well as refund requests. I have gotten my entire purchase for the XCelerate Stream refunded as it’s simply false advertisement, caused by none other than the company.
I go as far as saying if people for whom the fast internet was a make or break case as they have daily duties to attend at least for a little while can’t have that security anymore, Celebrity Cruises in this case is going to lose customers.
So if you’re sailing soon and thought about buying their XCelerate Stream WiFi – don’t! It’s useless as it stands right now.