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Voom Internet on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas
Voom Internet on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas
Can You Work From A Cruise Ship? Our Tips for Working Remotely at Sea
Promenade Deck on Royal Princess

Can You Work From A Cruise Ship? Our Tips for Working Remotely at Sea

Can You Work From A Cruise Ship? Our Tips for Working Remotely at Sea
Promenade Deck on Royal Princess
Cruise Critic
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Can you work from a cruise ship? It's entirely possible these days -- but it’s not without its pratfalls.

Yet with new abilities to work remotely brought to the forefront by the global health pandemic, more people who are far from retirement are embracing remote working -- on land and sea. After all, a cruise ship has everything you need – regular meals and room service, a comfy cabin and lounges to work, places to work out and socialize -- and when you're off the clock, maybe you can fit in a port visit, a spa treatment or daily pool time.

Cruise Critic editors work from cruise ships all the time because -- well, it's our job. We've seen the process become much easier over the years, as cruise ships invest in better and stronger Wi-Fi. On some ships, we're able to dial into video conferences and do Zoom interviews, access the company VPN and cloud drives, just like we do at home.

And on some ships, we can't do anything. It's a helpless feeling, in this day and age of constant connectivity.

Also realize that, in fairness, many small niche ships don't offer any Wi-Fi access at all (it's a feature). Don't plan your work trip around a small-ship expedition in Alaska, for example.

Some ships, however, just might lend themselves well to a "work-from-onboard" situation, which is what we thought aboard Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2.

Below, we give you some tips from working from a cruise ships – and a breakdown of our experiences on different lines and ships. Maybe we'll see you onboard with your laptop?

Tips for Working From A Cruise Ship

Managing travel plans, bookings and cancellations (Photo: PKpix/Shutterstock.com)

Keep expectations low. For the most part, don’t go into it expecting to replicate the experience at a hotel on-land. Satellite connections are getting better with each passing year, but a ship has thousands of people onboard, all hoping to post their vacation pictures to Facebook or livestream with their families.

Age matters, but fleet matters more. In general, newer ships have better and faster Wi-Fi. But there are exceptions, particularly when you go on different cruise lines. The internet access on Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas – 18 years old this year – was better overall than that onboard the year-and-a-half-old Norwegian Encore, for example.

Geography makes a difference. Mountain ranges and fjords provide a pretty backdrop to your meetings, but know that geographical obstructions and areas of remote connectivity will scrub your productivity plans. If you’re just planning on keeping in touch with the office over email and Word, you shouldn’t have too many issues, but don't schedule that important presentation during your Alaska cruise's visit to Glacier Bay. Same story when it comes to where the satellite is. We had severe connectivity issues on Scarlet Lady as its satellite is over Florida where the ship will be based later this year -- not England, where it has been sailing.

Leaving port makes a difference. Pro-tip -- check embarkation times from ports and do not schedule your conference call, Zoom chat or anything that requires a connection as the ship is leaving port -- as we found on Norwegian Jade. For some reason, all Wi-Fi connectivity dropped for 10 minutes as the ship left or arrived into port. Not a huge issue, unless of course you are in the middle of something.

Where you sit on the ship makes a big difference. You may not always be able to work in your cabin as the signal might not be strong enough. Find where the routers are (usually the strongest signal is at Guest Relations) and settle in there -- ideally with headphones.

Make time zones work for you. If you're working with an east coast company, Europe is a fantastic place to work, as you're generally able to squeeze in a morning excursion, lunch and pool time well before your colleagues start Slacking you. The down side? You might end up working through dinner hours. Alaska is difficult because you're already four hours behind; you wake up to a slew of emails and not much time to respond before your coworkers are done for the day -- though it does free up your afternoons and evenings. That makes the Caribbean a nice choice.

Quiet-proof your cabin. We've seen some people working from cruise ships on the down low, essentially hiding their location from employers. We won't judge. But we do recommend that you turn off in-room announcements before you join that conference call (bing bong! Join us for shuffleboard on the Lido Deck!) Blurring your background on Zoom is another classic way to avoid detection that you're not in your home office.

Port days give you data access. If you plan on working remotely, definitely choose a mobile plan that allows you international service. Many ship Wi-Fi plans only allow you to use one device at a time, and so having a second point of data access can help you make a tricky two-factor VPN authentication to get into your system, or allow you to upload photos from your phone. It can also allow you to use your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Ship-Specific Work Experiences

Cruise Critic editors have been on a range of cruise lines and ships since cruising's return in 2021, and we list our connectivity successes --and failures -- from selected ships below. Keep in mind that our experience on one ship might not hold true for the entire fleet, or on sailings through different destinations. We'll continue to add to this list as we travel.

Alaskan Dream Cruises

Alaskan Dream Cruises' Kruzof Explorer (Photo: Chris Gray Faust/Cruise Critic)

Ship: Kruzof Explorer

Itinerary: Alaska

Slack: No

Access VPN: No

Access company cloud drives: Only when passing near cell service on land

Conference call (audio): No

Video conference: No


American Queen Steamboat Company

American Countess exterior

Ship: American Countess

Itinerary: Mississippi River

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: No

Access company cloud drives: No

Conference call (audio): Yes

Video conference: Sometimes, but not really


Carnival Cruise Line

Exterior Carnival Mardi Gras (Photo by Chris Gray Faust)

Ship: Carnival Mardi Gras

Itinerary: Caribbean

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: Yes, in port; Wi-Fi plan only allows one device at a time.

Access company cloud drives: Google Drive, yes. Dropbox no, YouTube, yes

Conference call (audio): Yes

Video conference: Yes


Ship: Carnival Spirit

Itinerary: Alaska

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: Yes, in port; Wi-Fi plan only allows one device at a time.

Access company cloud drives: Google Drive, yes. Dropbox no, YouTube, yes, Adobe Creative Cloud, no.

Conference call (audio): Yes

Video conference: Yes


Celebrity Cruises

always included celebrity apex hero image

Ship: Celebrity Apex

Itinerary: Greece

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: Sometimes

Access company cloud drives: Yes

Conference call (audio): Yes

Video conference: Yes


Ship: Celebrity Edge

Itinerary: Caribbean

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: Sometimes

Access company cloud drives: Yes

Conference call (audio): Yes

Video conference: Yes


Ship: Celebrity Millennium

Itinerary: Caribbean

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: No

Access company cloud drive: Yes

Conference call (audio): Yes

Video conference: Spotty, but mostly yes


Ship: Celebrity Silhouette

Itinerary: Round-U.K.

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: No

Access company cloud drives: Sometimes

Conference call (audio): Sometimes

Video conference: Sometimes, but usually lags


Disney Cruise Line

Disney Wonder 00522

Ship: Disney Wonder

Itinerary: Caribbean

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: No

Access company cloud drives: Google Drive, no. Dropbox, no. YouTube, yes

Conference call (audio): Yes

Video conference: Yes


Ship: Disney Wish

Itinerary: Caribbean

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: Yes

Access company cloud drives: Google Drive, yes. Dropbox, yes. YouTube, yes

Conference call (audio): Yes

Video conference: Yes


MSC Cruises

M S C  Virtuosa arrives into  Southampton  M S C  Cruises,  Blue  Harbour (1)

Ship: MSC Virtuosa

Itinerary: Round-U.K.

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: Yes

Access company cloud drives: Sometimes

Conference call (audio): Sometimes

Video conference: Sometimes, but usually lags


Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Encore in Icy Strait Point. (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Ship: Norwegian Encore

Itinerary: Alaska

Slack: Yes, though very slow to load.

Access VPN: No

Access company cloud drive: Google yes, Dropbox no, YouTube yes (but very slow)

Conference call (audio): yes

Video conference: No


Ship: Norwegian Jade

Itinerary: Greek islands

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: Sometimes

Access company cloud drives: Sometimes

Conference call (audio): Sometimes

Video conference: Sometimes, but usually lags


Princess Cruises

Discovery Princess at anchor off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, on March 29, 2022 ({Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Ship: Discovery Princess

Itinerary: Mexican Riviera

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: Yes

Access company cloud drives: Google Drive, yes - slowly. Dropbox, no. YouTube, yes

Conference call (audio): Yes

Video conference: Yes


Royal Caribbean

Serenade of the Seas in Icy Strait Point (Photo: Aaron Saunders/Cruise Critic)

Ship: Adventure of the Seas

Itinerary: Caribbean

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: No

Access company cloud drives: Google Drive, yes. Dropbox, no. YouTube, yes

Conference call (audio): Yes

Video conference: No


Ship: Allure of the Seas

Itinerary: Caribbean

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: Yes

Access company cloud drives: Yes

Conference call (audio): Yes

Video conference: Yes


Ship: Freedom of the Seas

Itinerary: Caribbean

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: Sometimes

Access company cloud drives: Yes

Conference Call (audio): Yes

Video conference: Yes


Ship: Odyssey of the Seas

Itinerary: Caribbean

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: Sometimes

Access company cloud drives: Yes

Conference call (audio): Yes

Video conference: Yes


Ship: Serenade of the Seas

Itinerary: Alaska

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: No

Access company cloud drives: Google. yes, Dropbox, no; YouTube, yes

Conference call (audio): yes

Video conference: Yes


Silversea Cruises

Silver Moon Exterior (Photo: Colleen McDaniel)

Ship: Silver Moon

Itinerary: Greece

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: No

Access company cloud drives: Sometimes

Conference call (audio): Sometimes

Video conference: Sometimes, but usually lags


UnCruise Adventures

Kayakers on UnCruise Adventures (Photo: Colleen McDaniel)

Ship: Wilderness Legacy

Itinerary: Alaska

Slack: No

Access VPN: No

Access company cloud drives: No

Conference call (audio): No

Video conference: No


Viking Ocean Cruises

Viking Venus (Photo: Viking)

Ship: Viking Venus

Itinerary: Mediterranean

Slack: Yes

Access VPN: Yes

Access company cloud drives: Yes

Conference call (audio): Yes

Video conference: No


Virgin Voyages

Scarlet  Miami  Cruise  Critic 12.7

Ship: Scarlet Lady

Itinerary: Round-U.K.

Slack: No

Access VPN: No

Access company cloud drives: No

Conference call (audio): Sometimes

Video conference: Sometimes, but usually lags

Updated August 25, 2022

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