Staying in touch with fellow passengers at sea, and friends and family on land is easier than ever. Many ships now have branded apps that allow cruisers to chat with each other onboard. Several lines have rolled out superfast high-bandwidth Wi-Fi, with relatively affordable high-speed services that can even support video chats, music and movie streaming.
However, internet speeds can vary significantly by line and ship, depending on location, available bandwidth and other factors. And, the majority of cruise lines still don't offer speeds that can support streaming/video chat services, such as Netflix or Skype.
Internet charges also vary by cruise line. You can be charged by the minute or by bandwidth, pay for daily or voyagelong packages, or choose from tiered usage packages with prices based on the types of sites and online services (sending emails, streaming shows) passengers use.
Cellular services are generally supported by your home carrier; rates at sea vary by wireless company but typically reflect international roaming rates, which can be breathtakingly pricy. When the ship reaches port, pricing will switch to the country-specific roaming rate -- also not cheap unless you've signed up for an international calling plan.
Below is a rundown of what the major cruise lines offer for internet and cellular service.
For some background and tips, here's everything you need to know about internet at sea.