Internet access on cruise ships can be expensive—often $1 per minute—and excruciatingly slow. So when ships pull into port, passengers often go in search of cheap or free Wi-Fi. Because it's not always easy to suss out in advance where in port the Wi-Fi will be, I thought it would help to share the story of how I found free Wi-Fi in Aruba last week.
I watched for crew members leaving the ship carrying laptops and followed them. They ended up in the Renaissance Mall at a Starbucks just below the lobby of the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino. The free Wi-Fi extended beyond the Starbucks to the hotel's open-air lobby, bar, and pool. More free Wi-Fi could be found across the street at Renaissance Marketplace, a set of shops with plenty of outdoor seating with a harbor view.
There was Wi-Fi inside the cruise terminal building too—a convenience that is not the norm for most cruise piers—but it cost $5 an hour. Since I had to spend the whole day on my laptop, and I liked the idea of drinks with a view, I opted for the Renaissance complex.
When you’re headed on a cruise and you'll need Internet access, do your homework and research in advance where there’s convenient Wi-Fi, either free or affordable, in each port on your itinerary. Although it's normally good source for sussing out Wi-Fi spots, JiWire’s global Wi-Fi finder is often not so good for Wi-Fi options near cruise piers. x’s Ports of Call boards sometimes have this information. When all else fails, in the Caribbean the local Margaritaville usually has free Wi-Fi and plenty of electrical outlets.
Anyone have other suggestions for how to find convenient, fast, and free Wi-Fi hot spots in cruise ports globally? Please share them below!
By Wendy Perrin, Conde Nast Traveller
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