Posted December 3rd, 2011, 07:51 AM
We just came off an RCCL Caribbean cruise. And we work onboard while we vacation, so this is what we found:
The ship Internet connection costs $.65 per minute and can go down to about $.30 per minute if you buy their packages. The connection is slow, and very sporadic.
To get Internet in Labadee, you can pick up the ship's signal and use your Internet package if you are on one of the beaches close to the ship, such as Barefoot beach. However, if two ships are in port that day, you might get the signal from the other ship, in which case your Internet package or log-on will not work.
However, if you have GSM service, on Labadee you can pick-up several of the Caribbean networks. The best one that works throughout most of the Caribbean is DIGICELL. This network works for voice and data, although the data is usually slow because it is hard to pick up a 3G network.
In St. Thomas and San Juan you pick up the U.S. networks, and that tends to work well.
As far as WiFi is concerned, some of the ports have it for free as part of the port infrastructure. Also, several of the restaurants/bars in the port complexes also offer it for free for their customers, and it is very nice to sit in these restaurants and have a drink, coffee, meal or snack while you are using the Internet.
Even if you don't find a restaurant with free Wi-Fi, in all of the ports there were Internet cafés or Internet shops where you can bring your own device or use their computers, and the connection is never more than $1 an hour, approximately.
In St. Maarten, apart from the restaurants with possible Wi-Fi, they have a large cellphone store set up with a lounge area where you can bring your own device or use their computers to connect to the Internet. The air-conditioning inside this store is usually very strong, so bring a sweater or sweatshirt if you are going to stay for a long time.
However, unless you are people like us who run a company from wherever we happen to be travelling, which makes connecting to the Internet a necessity anywhere we go (even on the ship), don't waste your time during the whole cruise doing this -- you have plenty of time to do this while at home. Enjoy the ports, the beaches, the vacation --
Last word of advice -- while on the ship, turn off the roaming -- data function of your tablet so that your tablet doesn't automatically connect to the Internet to do things in the background while using the ship's cellular network, since this is very very expensive.
Gunther and Uta