Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean have addressed this passenger pain point, but only Carnival (so far) plans to charge more for it.
The cruise industry tends to move in lockstep with each other. That’s because if one cruise line makes a move that’s going to be unpopular with passengers (like raising mandatory daily gratuity rates) that opens the door for others to do the same. The same thing applies when one company adds a new innovation or makes a change customers will like, every other player in the industry has to follow.
Royal Caribbean International (RCL) – Get Royal Caribbean Group Report has been leading the way when it comes to innovation building the biggest ships in the world and pushing boundaries when it comes to onboard attractions. Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) – Get Carnival Corporation Report, however, has not been far behind as its latest ships, Mardi Gras, and the soon-to-sail Celebration, rival the best of what Royal Caribbean has to offer.
In one key area, however, Royal Caribbean has been more aggressive in addressing a key passenger pain point — internet service. The cruise line has partnered with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to put Starlink satellite internet service on all of its ships. That move follows a test of the service on Freedom of the Seas which met with rave reviews from passengers.
Royal Caribbean has not given a timeline on adding Starlink to the rest of its fleet and it has not commented on whether it will raise the price of onboard internet when it completes the process. For now, at least on Freedom of the Seas, the Starlink satellite internet service does not cost extra.
Carnival Improves its Internet, Raises Prices
Carnival has not been as bold as its chief rival, but it has taken steps to improve its internet service.
The cruise line has taken different steps to improve its internet, according to Vice President Luis Terife, Cruise Industry News reported.
“We have seen a significant increase in guest utilization, across the board, but especially with a higher emphasis on our premium plans,” he said. “We are adjusting to guest usage patterns by allowing a more balanced upload versus download experience.”
That’s more a tinkering around the margins way to deliver a mildly better experience rather than a bold change, but that has not stopped the cruise line from raising its WiFi prices.
In an email to people booked on upcoming sailings, Carnival declared its intentions to raise the price it charges for onboard internet.
“Although we continue to do our best to minimize the impact of rising costs, we will be implementing nominal changes to our onboard WiFi packages. WiFi purchases made before the price change will be at the current rates. Reserve pre-cruise before October 1,” the company shared.
Carnival Did Not Share Its New Internet Prices
Carnival currently sells three different internet packages on its cruise ships.
Social: $8.50 per person per day, which enables you to text and check social media,Value: $11.05 per person per day offers access to social media, email, and the web, but not streaming sites.Premium: $14.45 per person per day in theory gives passengers access to the full internet including streaming.
The cruise line did not fully explain what its new rates would be, which leaves open the possibility that they could vary by sailing. The email did contain the following language: “save up to 15% and up to 31% vs new onboard pricing,” Cruise Industry News reported.
Anyone who books an internet package for an upcoming sailing can lock in the current prices.