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8 Useful Apps Every Cruiser Should Know About

17 Apr 2024

You can make your cruise so much easier with a few helpful apps.

Useful apps to use

As a traveler who’s visited 12 countries and countless cities, I’ve had to build up my toolbox from the ground up.

From Google Maps to Airbnb, a variety of modern apps and websites have been created that help travelers with everything they need. When you have the right tools by your side, your experiences will become much easier and incredibly rewarding.

It takes trial and error (and sometimes some embarrassing mistakes!) to find all the best apps and websites to help you out along the way.

Some of these apps aren’t well-known but they can save you a lot of time, money, and energy.

To make sure you’re not missing out on any tools, here are the top 8 apps I recommend every cruiser use.

1. Airalo

International travelers are familiar with the feeling of stepping foot in a foreign place and desperately searching for WiFi.

Cruise ships don’t stop in one place for long, and this can leave cruisers at a disadvantage when it comes to phone connectivity on land.

When you’re visiting a country for only eight hours or so, it doesn't make sense to find a store and waste money buying a physical SIM card for your phone that you’ll throw away the next day.

Airalo provides a simple solution. The app allows you to purchase eSIMs for a selected amount of days so that you can connect to data on your trip.

While it depends on the region and offers available, you can usually choose between 7 days, 15 days, 30 days, and 365 days.

The eSIM uploads directly to your phone, and you can activate it immediately! The app is free to download, and you get 5% cashback with each transaction you make.

The best part is, these eSIMs are extremely affordable. Most 7-day packages are under $5.

With Airalo, you will never again have to find strange cafes to sit in while you download maps or Google search for what to do next.

Read more: Royal Caribbean WiFi: Guide to Internet at sea

2. Been

Orlando, Florida on a map

What Goodreads is to readers, Been is to travelers. 

Been is an app that allows you to track the places you’ve visited, lived, and wish to travel to.

Been tracks how many countries you’ve visited and calculates what percentage of the world you’ve been to.

When you update your map with a location, that location lights up in color. You can edit your map to display your countries in many different ways.

The app also allows you to share an image or video of all the places you’ve visited.

It’s an exciting way to craft your travel bucket list and remember all the places you’ve been.

While the app is free, there is a premium version you can upgrade to.

The premium version is $2.29 and allows you to update specific cities and airports, compare your profile with friends, and add more visualizations to your map.

3. WhatsApp

Americans may not be familiar with WhatsApp, but it’s useful in almost every other country.

WhatsApp is a secure messaging platform that many use for texts and calls. It works without data, just on WiFi, so it’s a great option for travelers.

It is a free app that connects your contacts using your phone number.

When traveling abroad, you’ll find that many hotels, tours, and other locations offer a WhatsApp number to contact them.

RC message watch

For example, when my Mediterranean cruise ended in Barcelona, I ordered a shuttle service to get me to the airport in time for my flight home.

However, the driver was 20 minutes late, and the only contact number listed was a WhatsApp number. 

If I didn't have the app downloaded and set up, I could have been delayed even more in contacting them and getting on the road.

Before you leave for your cruise, just download WhatsApp and you’ll be one step ahead.

4. Tripit

Allegiant airplane

Cruising often involves organizing several different methods of travel.

You may have to fly to your cruise ship, and then get onboard. You will have to enter different ports of call and find transportation to your tourist destinations.

It’s a lot to organize—but TripIt can help. TripIt is an app that organizes all your travel plans into one place.

The best part is that you can forward your travel receipts and plans directly to [email protected], and the app will automatically add them to your profile.

You can even share your plans with others inside the app or in a text or email.

All these features are free to use, but the pro version—which costs $48.99 a year—automatically invites others to your trips and tracks your loyalty programs and rewards.

TripIt is the most simple and efficient way of organizing your trip.

5. Royal Caribbean

If you cruise Royal Caribbean, you definitely need to have the app downloaded.

The Royal app is your key to the entire cruise vacation.

Before the cruise begins, you can use the app to check in, plan your arrival time, and make pre-cruise purchases like dining, shore excursions, and WiFi.

YYou will also complete your safety briefing on the app by watching a series of short videos.

Once you’re onboard, you also have access to maps of every deck, a daily Cruise planner, and your own personal calendar.

It’s an indispensable tool throughout your cruise, from finding out what dining venues are open to seeing the dress theme for the night.

In-app messaging also allows you to communicate with guests who are linked under your booking, or who have your full name. 

The app is completely free to use, even if you do not purchase Royal Caribbean WiFi. Free WiFi onboard will allow you to use the app 24/7.

6. Xe Currency

Currency exchange windows

How many dollars are in a euro again? Why does this item cost thousands of yen?

When you use Xe Currency, you won’t have to memorize the exact conversation rates.

This app automatically displays the most updated exchange rates for as many currencies as you need.

Australian banknotes

It’s also a method of sending money directly to bank accounts or mobile wallets.

To save yourself the headache of memorization, or the embarrassment of opening a calculator at every purchase, you should use Xe Currency.

7. CruiseMapper

Tracking ships

If you’ve ever wondered where a cruise ship is at this moment in time, CruiseMapper is a great app to download.

There are many free cruise ship tracking apps available online.

CruiseMapper is one such free version, but it does display ads on the bottom of the screen.

The app takes you to a world map that displays ships sailing all over. Arrow icons indicate ships that are currently sailing, while dots are ships that are docked at port.

Tracking cruise ships on internet

You can click on each icon to explore the ship or search by ship/port to find a specific one.

Whether you’re curious about someone else’s voyage or checking up on a familiar ship, CruiseMapper is a great way to track a cruise ship’s location.

8. My Cruise

Kids together on Wonder of the Seas

If you’re trying to get younger kids used to the idea of cruising, My Cruise is a game that can help.

My Cruise is a free mobile game where you can control all the parts of creating a luxury cruise vacation. You will work to build a cruise ship, developing restaurants and staterooms. 

You can even set sail, visit different ports of call and collect passengers.

It’s a fun game with calming music and a cute art style, also making it a relaxing option for adults who love to cruise!

How to Track a Cruise Ship Location on the Internet

22 Mar 2024

Did you know it’s possible to track a cruise ship’s live location?

Tracking cruise ships on internet

Thanks to modern technology, you can instantly find out where any cruise ship is in the world. 

You may not have realized that tracking a cruise ship is possible, but I'm certain you've felt the urge to try.

Maybe you felt curious about a friend’s voyage or concerned about a loved one’s safety. You found yourself wishing that you could know exactly where in the world they are.

Or perhaps you’ve already disembarked from a favorite vessel, and are checking up on its current location.

Whatever the reason for your curiosity, checking a ship’s location is a straightforward process.

This guide will explore various methods and technologies available for tracking the movements of cruise ships all over the world.

Read on for your comprehensive guide to tracking a cruise ship’s live location.

How does it work? 


Vessel tracking mainly depends on a technology called the Automatic Identification System (AIS).

Ships larger than 300 tons are required to carry and use AIS.

AIS is essentially a vessel tracking system used by ships to broadcast their position, speed, and course. 

The system uses a vessel’s GPS system or internal systems to gather the ship’s movements. Then, the information from the AIS unit is transmitted in the background.

Programmable information includes the vessel’s name, destination, and Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number.

Tracking ships

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) requires ships to use AIS so that other ships and coastal authorities can receive relevant information about their position. This enhances maritime safety and navigation.

Most modern vessels use a combination of land-based AIS data, satellite AIS relays, and land-based, very-high frequency radios (VHF) line-of-sight equipment. 

These systems allow online trackers to receive the information that lets you track a cruise ship online.

However, you may not receive all of this data online for free. 

Ship tendering

Satellite AIS receivers are very expensive, meaning you will probably have to pay to access this information.

That means that most ship trackers available for free will only be completely accurate when the ship is close enough to shore for a land-based receiver to pick up the transmissions.

However, even free options can give you an idea of where your favorite cruise ship might be.

Online tracking websites

Ships docked at CocoCay

Several websites offer live tracking of cruise ships online. These websites make it convenient for anyone with internet access to monitor the movements of vessels around the world.

Users can view information on vessel locations by cruise line, type of cruise, or simply by looking at a world map.

Or, you can search for a particular ship by entering the name, International Maritime Organization (IMO) number, or Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number of the ship to view its current position on a map.

Cruise Mapper

Cruise Mapper takes you straight to a world map, where you can choose from a list of vessels, or search for the exact ship on the top middle.

Arrow icons display ships currently sailing, while dots represent ships that are docked at port.

To the left of the screen, you can select from several options of cruise lines, choosing which ones you want to view or hide.

When you find a ship you’d like to track, you can view more information by clicking on the ship’s icon.

A window on the left will display details about the cruise, such as weather, passengers, current speed, and itinerary.

Marine Vessel Traffic

Marine Vessel Traffic is a website that displays tracking information for all types of ships, from cargo to fishing to submarines.

You can view cruise ships specifically by selecting “passenger” on the top menu labeled “Map selector.”

Below the Map selector, options for cruise lines appear. Clicking on a particular line’s logo pulls up the tracking information for that specific fleet.

The world map will reveal all the cruise ships currently sailing. As you drag your mouse over each ship icon, the name of the ship and its cruise line will appear.

Ship Cruises

Ship Cruises also displays an interactive menu with options to filter by cruise line. You can also filter by the type of cruise, making it easy for you to track river cruises or ocean sailings. Docked ships are marked by a small green dot, while ships en route have a larger green arrow.

To view information on a particular ship, click its icon and then select “details.” 

This takes you to a separate page where you can view position, itinerary, map, and weather.

My Ship Tracking

My Ship Tracking has a more visual focus, with several map options. You can add or remove filtered layers, such as weather or vessel size and age.

To find a certain ship, type its name into the search bar at the top right.

There is also the option for you to save particular vessels into your own fleet that is displayed on the map. You must create a free account or log in to activate this feature.

Mobile applications

If you’re on the go, or prefer to use a phone, mobile apps also offer convenient ways to track cruise ships.

Most of the popular ship tracking websites mentioned above also have mobile apps available for download on IOS and Android devices.

Similar to the websites, these apps allow users to access live ship routes, positions, and weather.

A simple search on your App Store also provides a variety of ship-tracking apps, such as MarineTraffic, MyShipTracking, Boat Watch, Cruise Mapper, or Cruise Finder.

No tracking with the official app

Many major cruise lines have their own websites and applications that provide information on each ship’s whereabouts.

Royal Caribbean’s app and website do not have any live tracking features for their cruise ships.

However, you can visit the website for general upgrades on travel information here.

If you have a cruise booked, you will also receive any important upgrades by email or on the mobile app.

If you’re attempting to track a friend or family member’s cruise, you can always look up the ship’s itinerary by name and date, and make an estimate based on the time of certain scheduled arrivals.

Related articles

Have more questions about the technology of cruising? Check out these blog posts:

Royal Caribbean testing out chatbot that can answer common questions

11 Aug 2023

Royal Caribbean is experimenting with a new chat bot that can answer some basic questions customers might have before they get on a ship.

Sign of Royal Caribbean

We spotted a new chatbot on select pages of the Royal Caribbean website that provide an option to engage with and get answers.

A customer service chatbot is a bot that uses AI and machine learning to answer basic customer questions via a business messenger. For example, you could ask "how do I book a cruise" or "when can I check-in for my cruise?".

Chatbots use existing knowledge base articles to help answer customers’ questions. They can recognize and answer multiple forms of the same question and can be trained to give instant responses using your preferred voice and tone.

Chatbots are a popular mechanism for ecommerce sites to get answers to customers 24/7 on topics that are very commonly asked. AI chatbots have really risen to prominence since 2020, providing 24/7 support, and automatically resolving questions without any human intervention.

Chatbot pop up

The chatbot is in a pop up that appears on select pages of the Royal Caribbean website, such as the frequently asked questions section. It is not available on the Royal Caribbean app.

If you opt to click on the "Chat with us" pop-up, the Virtual Agent greets you with the option of inquiring about an existing booking or if you have no booking.

Chatbot pop up active

The chatbot allows you to type your questions and it will try its best to find you an answer.

Testing out the chatbot

Answer from chatbot

I was curious as anyone to know how helpful the chatbot could be, so I fed it some questions that are commonly asked in Google searches.

Below you'll see the question in bold, followed by the chatbot's response.

Dining room waiter

How much do you tip a cruise waiter?

As of September 7th, 2022, the automatic service gratuity of $16.00 USD per person, per day for guests in non-suites staterooms, or $18.50 USD per person, per day for guests in Suites, will be applied to each guest’s SeaPass account on a daily basis. The gratuity applies to individual guests of all ages and stateroom categories. Gratuities are shared among dining, bar, culinary services staff, stateroom attendants, and other hotel services teams who work behind the scenes to enhance the cruise experience.

Read moreTipping on a cruise ship: what you should and shouldn't do

Bottled water

Can I bring a 12 pack of water on Royal Caribbean?

Yes, guests are allowed to bring non-alcoholic beverages as carry-on items on boarding day. Non-alcoholic beverages may not exceed 12 standard (17 oz.) cans, bottles, or cartons per stateroom.

Read moreWhat food or drinks you're allowed to bring on a Royal Caribbean cruise


Do I need a passport or birth certificate to take a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Yes, as a US citizen, you will need a valid US passport book that is valid for at least 6 months after your cruise ends to board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. If you are sailing from a US homeport, an official US state-issued birth certificate is also accepted. Guests age 16 and older who present an official US state-issued birth certificate will also need to provide a valid driver's license or government-issued picture ID.

Read morePassport card vs book: Which should you choose?

Covid test

Do I need a Covid test to enter US after a cruise?

Vaccinations, face masks, and pre-cruise testing are no longer required to sail, with the following exceptions: transpacific sailings ending in Australia (pre-cruise testing & vaccines required), cruises from Australia (vaccinations, face masks and pre-cruise testing required), and the Ultimate World Cruise (vaccination required).

Can you split a drink package on Royal Caribbean?

I'm afraid I don't have an answer for that at the moment.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean Drink Package guide

Will my phone work onboard a Royal Caribbean ship?

Yes, Royal Caribbean works with cellular networks to provide the ability to connect your device through "cellular at sea". These roaming rates to utilize your device are determined by your cellular provider. Prior to your sailing, it is recommended to contact your cellular provider for more information on these rates and special packages available. Additionally, another option for staying connected without utilizing your cellular data is connecting to VOOM, the fastest internet at sea. VOOM allows guests to stay connected via wifi, with a variety of packages to choose from.

Read moreCellphone Use Onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise


Where can I smoke on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

For the comfort and enjoyment of our guests, our ships are designated as non-smoking; however, we recognize that some of our guests do smoke. To provide an onboard environment that meets all needs, we’ve designated certain areas of the ship as smoking areas. Smoking is permitted in designated outdoor areas, must be properly disposed of, and never be thrown overboard. We’ll have visible signage posted in areas where smoking is permitted, and ashtrays that are provided for use. Cigar and pipe tobacco are limited to designated outdoor areas and Cigar Bars. You must be at least 21 years of age to purchase, possess, or use tobacco on sailings beginning in U.S. ports. For sailings beginning in all other ports, the minimum age is 18 years old.

Family at Windjammer

Where can I eat on embarkation day at the start of a Royal Caribbean cruise?

On the first day of your Royal Caribbean cruise, you can enjoy a meal at our different available venues before heading to your stateroom.


I've been assigned My Time Dining, what does this mean?

My Time Dining is one of the options you’ll get to choose from when you book your cruise. Unlike traditional dining — where a dining time is assigned to you — guests who opt for My Time Dining can eat in the Main Dining Room anytime they like during dinner hours, according to availability. Reservations are strongly recommended. My Time Dining uses the same menu as traditional seating. The wait staff will have your table ready for you so can avoid a delay in seating. If you would like a specific waiter or table, they are more likely to be able to accommodate your request with advance reservations (however, please note this is based on availability). Guests who have signed up for My Time Dining will have their SeaPass card designated with the dining room and deck number. They will be seated in one of the main dining rooms. There will be a My Time Dining check-in desk at the entrance to the dining room with wait staff to greet guests. My Time Dining is now a choice within the booking process. When making a reservation you will be offered “My Time” or traditional dining times* (i.e., 5:30 pm 8:00 pm). *Traditional dining times may vary by ship and itinerary.

Read moreWhat you need to know about Royal Caribbean's My Time Dining

Ship ratings feature added

Ship ratings example

In addition to the chatbot, you can now find cruise ship ratings for all of Royal Caribbean's cruise ships.

In visiting any of the ship landing pages, you'll find at the bottom a list of ratings.

Ship reviews

In fact, there's a lot of reviews listed for each ship.

For Wonder of the Seas, there were 51,409 reviews. Ovation of the Seas has 27,366 reviews. Mariner of the Seas has 37,647 reviews.

Perfect Storm waterslides on Wonder of the Seas

Moreover, the reviews don't seem to be filtered, if at all. There were as many glowing positive reviews and one star negative reviews.

Read moreWhy you can't trust online reviews of cruise ships

In case you're wondering, here's how the fleet stacks up based on average review score:

4.7 Stars

4.6 Stars

4.5 Stars

  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Brilliance of the Seas
  • Explorer of the Seas
  • Grandeur of the Seas
  • Jewel of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Radiance of the Seas
  • Vision of the Seas
  • Voyager of the Seas

4.4 Stars

  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Rhapsody of the Seas

Fortnite adds new Royal Caribbean cruise ship

06 Mar 2023

Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship doesn't launch until 2024, but you can see it already in Fortnite.

Icon of the Seas in Fortnite

Royal Caribbean announced is has partnered with Fortnite to create a one-of-a-kind experience in the meta verse onboard Icon of the Seas called "Hide 'n' Sea."

What does this mean exactly?

Overhead view of Icon of the Seas in Fortnite

Through the world of Fortnite, you can go ahead and virtually explore two brand-new neighborhoods onboard the highly anticipated cruise ship while collecting coins and playing hide and seek. 

You will first have to download the Fortnite game and create a free account. Once you have completed those steps, you have to enter the Icon of the Seas in-game island code, 2569-9622-8657. 

Why Fortnite?


Fortnite is an online multiplayer video game that was released in 2017. In six years, over 400 million accounts have been created, and at any given time, there are roughly three million players online! 

The heart of Icon of the Seas' purpose is to enhance the family vacation experience. This became evident with the new neighborhood concepts of Thrill Island and Surfside


Since the majority of Fortnite players are under the age of 24, it appears as though they are trying to appeal to a wider audience and continue to build up the anticipation leading up to the ship's maiden voyage. 

It is available worldwide on desktops, computer consoles, smart phones, and tablets. 

What neighborhoods are featured?


Only two neighborhoods are included in this virtual world: Thrill Island and The Hideaway.

While you will not be able to get a full tour of the ship, you can explore the record-breaking Category 6 water park, as well as Crown's Edge, a fear-inducing adventure course that combines a ropes course, skywalk, and thrill ride into one jaw-dropping experience.  

Player near FlowRider on Icon of the Seas

You can also see the Hideaway Pool, the world's first suspended infinity pool at sea, the fan-favorite FlowRider surf simulator, and Lost Dunes mini-golf course. 

The game play takes place while the ship is at sea, so you are able to take in some great sea views while trying to locate other players or remain hidden!

What is the goal of the game play?


Fortnite is known for their Battle Royale game mode, where you are dropped into a world and can fight against up to 100 other players. Hide 'n' Sea is less violent than other versions of the game. 

To play, you either become a "prop" to hide from the sea-kers or are a sea-ker who is trying to find the hidden "props" in seven minutes.

Player in Fortnite

Once the round begins, hiders have thirty seconds to conceal themselves before they transform into different props, including sun loungers, towels, or mini-golf flag.

You will win if you are able to successfully hide for the duration of the round or find all the "props." If you are a "prop," you can instantly win by collecting all 25 coins.  

Cruises meet online world

Celebrity Cruises in Metaverse

This is far from the first convergence of cruise ships and the online world.

In December 2022, sister brand Celebrity Cruises announced Celebrity Beyond cruise ship would be part of the Metaverse.

The game allowed users to visit the Resort Deck, along with other iconic spaces and bars. They could visit the Grand Plaza and see the cruise line’s flair show. A signature event onboard, mixologists perform tricks under a lit-up, moving chandelier to the delight of onlookers.  They can also visit The Magic Carpet floating bar, the Grand and the Sunset Bar.

Intelligent automation will make Royal Caribbean's next cruise ship as efficient as it is fun

03 Mar 2023

When Icon of the Seas debuts in early 2024, she will be the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to implement intelligent automation.

Icon of the Seas aerial at night concept art

Intelligent automation is a way to to bring some level of automation to processes that incorporates a certain level of artificial intelligence (AI), but utilizes many more tools. Royal Caribbean is rethinking how the company does its daily work, and it employs intelligent digital solutions like machine learning in their strategy.

It's a burgeoning area of IT, and it has the potential to make crew members' workloads easier while also benefitting the cruise ship passenger experience.

Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President and Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider spoke this week at a panel on intelligent automation, and it provided insight into how Royal Caribbean is using AI more in how it operates.

Mr. Schneider's job is to lead the digital transformation of the guest and crew experience, as well as the physical transformation of the guest experience, which includes new water parks, restaurant concepts, and technology.

Given that Royal Caribbean's cruise ships are complex technological marvels to begin with, integrating automation into them is no simple feat. After all, cruise ships incorporate resorts, food and beverage, supply chain, entertainment, gaming, Broadway shows, and moving people logistically around the world. 

Mr. Schneider calls it a "data ecosystem" and sees opportunity in balancing how to deliver experiences to people and how to lower costs.

"We spend a lot of time with our crew at sea understanding how do we generate job function automation that delivers value to them so they can spend more time with our guests day in and day out."

Inside cabin on Icon of the Seas

One of the innovations to come out of that exercise was a stateroom automation program that could leverage algorithms to prioritize work.

"We learned that crew on board our ships had access to reports and data on a regular basis that was often latent, and it was information that we had on our ships in our data centers that we could automate, create algorithms around to help them prioritize work, understand when people weren't on ship in a way that allowed them to spend more time with our guests."

IA on Icon

Pool aerial on Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's next cruise ship to launch will be Icon of the Seas in January 2024, and there's already intelligent automation integrated onboard.

The cruise line saw an opportunity to balance the guest experience along with being environmentally savvy with the air conditioning in passenger cabins.

Mr. Schneider explained, "if you've ever stayed in a hotel, oftentimes your housekeeper moves your stateroom into eco mode and you return to your room it's super hot and you're very dissatisfied. But it saved that hotel money. It was better for the environment."


"We have data on our ships that know when you get off the ship. And so we connected those two systems to say, well, wait a minute, we know when your whole party gets off the ship, let's let's have this ship automatically move your room into eco mode."

"And then when you the first person pings back on the ship, we slowly start to bring your room back to the experience level that you expected. Our ships are big enough by the time you get back there. We have a shot that we're getting closer and closer to what the level is that you wanted."

It's still being worked out, but there seems to be wins across the board if implemented properly, "That's something that we're testing to make sure that we're delivering our service promise, but also, again, reducing our environmental footprint and then frankly, saving cost as well."

A white paper ship

Hidewaway aerial

When you have a blank slate, integration of new technology is a heck of a lot easier than with an existing model.

The Icon Class is Royal Caribbean's first "white paper ship" in about a decade, and it allowed Royal Caribbean to build its most innovative cruise ship yet.

Icon will include heat recovery systems that repurpose energy across the ship, and it will be the first ship in the fleet to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). It includes six LNG-powered engines that provide 67,500 KW of energy to run the ship.

Icon of the Seas top down aerial

The 365-long (1,198ft) Icon of the Seas – 250,800 gross tonnage – will be able to take 7,600 guests when it debuts in January 2024, making it the largest cruise ship ever built. 

Icon of the Seas will sail from Miami and offer 7-night cruises to the Caribbean.

Can you work remotely from a cruise ship in 2022? I put it to the test

09 Nov 2022

A Royal Caribbean cruise may be synonymous with endless piña coladas on the pool deck… but what about laptops?

Cruise ships, despite being designed for vacations, can make for an excellent work environment. Working on a cruise means working without worrying about cooking, cleaning, or travel logistics. 

Just ask Super Mario, Royal Caribbean’s top cruiser, who has been working remotely on the cruise line’s ships for the better part of the past two decades!

Related: Life at sea - An interview with Royal Caribbean’s top cruiser, Super Mario

Oasis of the Seas next to Liberty of the Seas in Cozumel

But even though "workationing" on a Royal Caribbean cruise may seem appealing to the most adventurous of remote workers, there's always been one major setback: the onboard Internet speeds (or lack thereof).

As Royal Caribbean begins implementing SpaceX Starlink internet on its cruise ships, though, will working remotely become a more feasible option for cruisers?

To see for myself, I boarded Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas earlier this week to put the ship’s new internet service to the test. Is it really possible to successfully work remotely on a cruise ship in 2022?

Let's find out.

Why in the world would you work from a cruise ship?

We must first address the elephant in the room: why would anyone ever work from a cruise ship instead of taking a vacation?

Throughout the past few years, remote work has become increasingly common. More and more people are able to work from home—or from anywhere. Remote work means many workers have the freedom to travel and work at the same time without worrying about limited PTO.

So while we don't recommend working on a vacation, remote workers are on workation. Working during the day and enjoying the ship’s fantastic dining options and entertainment at night? Cruising while working remotely can be an attractive option for those who want to travel more than they otherwise could have.

Improving internet on cruise ships

Starlink logo

In the past, cruise ship internet was notoriously slow and connection issues were rampant. Facetiming friends and family back home, for example, would, more often than not, encounter delays and video freezes.

And if you had to upload any type of large file to the internet? Good luck. You would most likely end up finding yourself running to the nearest spot for wifi once in port.

Earlier this year, however, Royal Caribbean announced they would add SpaceX Starlink internet to every ship in the fleet. Their goal is to implement Starlink on all 26 ships in the fleet by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

Related: Spotted: Starlink being installed across multiple Royal Caribbean cruise ships

As someone who commonly works from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, working with the ships’ internet speeds has been a constant struggle. I was curious to see how much Starlink internet would improve my working experience.

Putting it to the test: working remotely from Liberty of the Seas

I’ve been onboard Liberty of the Seas for the past three days now and have been blown away by how much easier working remotely (or even just browsing the internet) from the ship has been with Starlink internet speeds.

As soon as I got onboard, I tested the ship’s new internet, which was implemented just a few weeks ago. I was shocked to see a speed of nearly 70 mbps download and 8 mbps upload. For those unfamiliar with internet speeds, this is, as Google tells me, “very fast”.

Royal Caribbean’s previous internet service, VOOM internet, would typically have speeds of only 4 mbps download and 2 mbps upload. This is a huge difference not only for remote workers, but for anyone trying to use the internet onboard a cruise ship.

During my first day onboard, I was ecstatic to be able to send a few photos over to the Royal Caribbean Blog team and video chat family back home with no hassle, but how would the speeds hold up when sailing through the middle of the Caribbean?

Day 2 of our sailing was a sea day en route to the Dominican Republic. Being nowhere near land, I assumed the speed would be slower, but I still saw speeds of 18mbps download and 10 mbps upload.

Uploading a video on Starlink internet

To put these speeds into perspective, I’ll give an example of one way Royal Caribbean’s new Starlink internet can improve working conditions for remote workers.

Because we upload three videos weekly to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube channel, I need a solid internet connection while onboard. Previously, it might take 4+ hours to upload a 2GB video file to YouTube. I would usually leave the video to upload overnight and pray it successfully uploaded by the time I woke up the next morning!

When I tested it out this week on Liberty of the Seas, however, I was able to upload a 2GB video (a large file size) in just 45 minutes…while in the middle of the Caribbean Sea!

While the upload and download speeds still aren't the fastest internet speeds in the world, they are 1000x better than the non-Starlink internet onboard. Unsurprisingly, internet speeds seem to be a bit faster when near land compared to at sea.

Today, for example, I checked the speed as we are nearing the coastline of the Dominican Republic and was impressed to see a speed of 76 mbps download and 15.8 mbps upload!

In addition to working remotely, I’ve had absolutely zero connection issues when using the internet to stream videos on YouTube or video chat family back home. Compared to the past when Royal Caribbean’s VOOM internet would randomly shut on and off, my experience with Starlink onboard has been nothing but incredible!

The biggest issues with working remotely on a cruise


While Starlink Internet has made working remotely on a cruise ship infinitely better than in the past, it still comes with a few struggles that can make or break your ability to work remotely onboard.

Lack of public outlets

My biggest struggle whenever I work remotely on a cruise ship is that it’s difficult to find places to charge electronics outside of your cabin.

For obvious reasons, Royal Caribbean does not want its guests to sit on their computers and phones when they could be exploring the ship, participating in activities, shopping, and ordering drinks. There’s no real benefit in offering public outlets around the ship from a revenue perspective.

With a little exploration, however, you can usually find a few outlets in most public venues onboard. These outlets are almost always European-style (Type C) outlets, as these are the outlets used for the ship’s vacuums, so be sure to pack an outlet adapter.

If you’re able to work for several hours on one computer charge, you’ll find it easier to work remotely from a cruise ship compared to someone who must keep their electronics constantly plugged in.

I must say, however, that Liberty of the Seas has had the best remote work setup I've seen on any of the cruise line's ships yet. The internet cafe onboard has tables and chairs with several sets of both European and US-style outlets.

Ambient sound

If your work involves back-to-back calls throughout the day, you’ll find it difficult to find a quiet space to work from outside of your cabin.

From background music to ship announcements and conversations from fellow passengers, you’ll encounter noise in most public areas. While not always loud, it can be distracting if you’re hoping for a quiet “office” space.

Working from an international location

Ship docked in Caribbean

One other potential problem you may run into when trying to work remotely from a cruise ship is that you are technically working outside of the United States.

It’s important to review your company’s protocols and applicable tax laws before clocking in from the beach in Mexico or when sailing near the Cuban coastline.

My conclusion: it's totally possible to work from a cruise ship

As a remote worker, I constantly found myself wasting hours onboard waiting for photos and videos to upload to the Royal Caribbean Blog website or YouTube channel and it was insanely frustrating.

My recent cruise on Liberty of the Seas gave me the confidence that I can successfully work from a Royal Caribbean ship without any unnecessary stress or headaches.

Due to the fleet’s new Starlink internet and the increase in digital nomads—remote workers who travel the world with their laptops—I believe we will see more and more passengers taking a “workation” on Royal Caribbean’s ships in the future.

While working remotely on Royal Caribbean’s ships has always been possible, it’s certainly easier and more enjoyable now than ever before.

The best travel tech gadgets for a cruise ship vacation

23 Sep 2022

What tech can you buy for your cruise vacation that will enhance your trip?

Couple using tablet in Europe

When I tried out Apple's AirTags on a recent Royal Caribbean cruise, it opened my eyes to how certain gadgets can make the experience better. Whether it's peace of mind like tracking luggage or just supplementing the fun you're having, there are plenty of gadgets and add-ons to assist.

Despite my overall geekiness, I'm the first person to be leery of bringing more tech for the sake of tech on a cruise. I try to keep the amount of bulk down, so if something is going to require additional baggage or more effort to bring onboard, it had better make a real difference.

Side of Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Please note that I linked to each item on Amazon which contains an affiliate link. This affiliate link costs you absolutely nothing extra, but I make a small commission if you purchase it.

With all of that in mind, here's my top picks for the best tech travel gadgets you should consider bringing on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Portable charger

Anker battery

For years I've brought a portable charger with me on a cruise to ensure my phone doesn't run out of power.

Because there's such a greater need for phones to be used on a cruise, battery drainage seems to occur more quickly than ever before. Even compared to at home, I find myself using my phone more often.

Part of the reason is Royal Caribbean's shift to making its app far more critical than pre-2020. The other aspect is simply enjoying being online while lounging at the pool, or staying in contact with friends and family.

Portable charger

With my oldest daughter reaching the age where she has the opportunity for limited "free roaming" during the day, staying in contact with her via text message also takes a hit on my phone's battery usage.

I've always been a fan of Anker's product line for its svelte design, reasonable prices, and durable quality. 

The Anker PowerCore 20 External Battery Pack provides enough power to charge an iPhone multiple times before it needs a charge.

Noise-cancelling headphones

Noise cancelling headphones

Before I ever got noise-cancelling headphones, I foolishly thought there wasn't that big of a difference compared to regular headphones. I especially did not think it mattered to have them on a cruise ship.

I was very wrong.

Not only are noise-cancelling headphones useful outside of an airplane, they make a tremendous difference in being able to enjoy "me time" onboard a ship.

Allure of the Seas

I really love putting them on when I'm on the pool deck so I can enjoy the breeze and sun while laying out in a lounger, without all the conversations, music, and noise you'd have to put up with around you.

Then of course there's the benefit these headphones have while travelling to and from your cruise. I just cannot imagine not having them these days.

For years, I've used and recommended the Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless noise-cancelling headphones for over-the-ear comfort and unbeatable noise cancellation.

I know a lot of other people that prefer the Apple AirPods Pro because they offer noise cancelling without the heft and size.


Woman reading her kindle

When my wife told me she needed an e-reader in addition to her iPad, I didn't understand why until I saw the difference when we were on the pool deck.

If you're a reader, Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite is the best option to bring on a cruise so that you can read outdoors when the sun is shining overhead.

Outlet extender

I cannot imagine going on a cruise today without an outlet extender.

Even if you cruise solo, the lack of outlets in a cabin is quite annoying. I recently tried the appropriately named "Cruise ship power strip" by Cruise On and was quite happy with how well it worked.

Read moreI tried the best inside cruise ship cabin hacks to see how well they worked

It takes up one outlet space and offers 3 new outlets along with 2 USB plugs.

European travel adaptor

A few readers recommended getting an European Travel Plug Adapter instead or as well, since your cabin has those outlets too.

AirTags or Bluetooth tracker


Another item I've converted over to using are AirTags in my luggage.

The AirTag is a small, button-shaped tracking device that can be tracked using Bluetooth right alongside Apple devices in the Find My app.

single AirTag will cost $29 and a 4-pack costs $99. If you have an Android phone, the Tile Pro costs $92.99.

AirTag directions

While AirTags aren't GPS trackers that provide precise location information, they work well-enough to have an idea where your luggage happens to be, especially if you're playing the "is my luggage on the cruise ship yet" game.

Just like noise-cancelling headphones, AirTags will benefit you beyond just the cruise.  Peace of mind that comes with being able to have an idea where your luggage is located is worth it.

Starlink added to first cruise ship since Royal Caribbean signed deal with SpaceX

19 Sep 2022

It appears Starlink is up and running on at least one Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Independence of the Seas as seen from tender

Royal Caribbean has not announced a roll out plan since posting the news that it has signed a deal with SpaceX to provide Starlink internet on all of its ships, but cruise fans have started noticing changes.

Over the last couple of weeks, teams across different Royal Caribbean cruise ships have been deployed to install Starlink.

It looks as though Independence of the Seas may be the first ship to get the proverbial switch turned on.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Jeff Robinson noticed on the weekend sailing of Independence of the Seas that concluded on Monday the speed tests showed Starlink active.

Independence of the Seas is currently sailing 3- and 4-night short cruises to the Bahamas.

The plan is for every single cruise ship in the Royal Caribbean Group to get Starlink added by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

Other cruise guests have confirmed Starlink is being added on Enchantment, Liberty, and Allure of the Seas. Other ships could also be in the process of getting Starlink as well.

Speed tests from Independence of the Seas

With Starlink apparently active on Independence of the Seas, I was curious to see how well it performed.

I asked Mr. Robinson to conduct a couple of speed tests just to get some raw numbers. Keep in mind these tests were conducted on a cloudy day, which could impact speed results.


The most important number here is not actually the upload or download speed, but rather the latency.

The ping is the reaction time of your connection–how fast you get a response after you've sent out a request. Pre-Starlink, ping was usually quite bad, with times measured in the hundreds of milliseconds. A fast ping means a more responsive connection

The sub-100 ping is fantastic.  My cell phone test at home had a ping of 65 milliseconds, which is very close to the Starlink speed.

Allure of the Seas next?

As stated, Royal Caribbean has not released any kind of roll out schedule, so we're left to figure it out on our own when each ship might get Starlink.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Michael Fenstermaker shared a report from onboard Allure of the Seas on Sunday, claiming the team there is nearly complete with their work.

"The Starlink team nearing completion of the antenna installation on the Allure of the Seas," Mr. Fenstermaker said in a tweet.

What you can do with Starlink

Starlink logo

The promise of better internet means better performance for everything you do online while on the ship.

Royal Caribbean says the new service will improve and enable more high-bandwidth activities like video streaming as well as activities like video calls.

Starlink is an interconnected internet network of thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit that SpaceX envisions will deliver high-speed internet anywhere on the planet. The company has launched about 2,700 satellites to date.

How much will wifi with Starlink cost?

ebook reader

Royal Caribbean has not announced any price changes yet to its wifi packages.

For the Independence of the Seas cruise, the internet package costs for guests were the same as before.

The cruise line has not confirmed or denied any updates are coming to wifi pricing.

When asked, a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said, "We plan to share details with guests, crew and travelers soon."

Spotted: Starlink being installed across multiple Royal Caribbean cruise ships

13 Sep 2022

Royal Caribbean has not divulged when its new Starlink internet service will become available, but it's clear work is underway on a number of ships to install Starlink.

Starlink receivers coming to Royal Caribbean

Ever since Royal Caribbean announced it would switch its ship-based internet service to SpaceX's Starlink service last month, cruise fans have been eager to know when the service might begin.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reached out to Royal Caribbean for a schedule of when each ship would get the new service along with a start date for service, but the cruise line did not provide any such schedule.

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson did not provide a timeline other than saying, "the Starlink technology rollout will start immediately across all Royal Caribbean International ships."

Starlink logo

Royal Caribbean Group promised to get Starlink to ships across all three Royal Caribbean Group brands by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

In the meantime, cruise ship passengers are seeing Starlink installation crews around many ships laying the foundation for the new service to start up.

We reported at the beginning of September seeing Starlink added to Independence of the Seas, although the service has not yet become operational as of the writing of this article.



According to readers, more ships are getting work done with teams onboard.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Michael Fenstermaker shared a photo from Allure of the Seas this week.

"There is a team of contractors aboard the Allure of the Seas planning the routing for the installation of cables to support the Starlink antennas," he said in his report.

Wayne Henderson is sailing on Enchantment of the Seas and also spotted a crew onboard.

"I'm currently on Enchantment in Halifax and they are installing the receivers on the forward section," Mr. Henderson said via email.

Over on Liberty of the Seas, Karen Fraser shared photos of the crew installing satellite receivers on that ship.

When will Starlink become available?

The short answer is no one really knows yet outside of Royal Caribbean when Starlink will become available on cruise ships, but the rumor mill has plenty of thoughts.

"They are already installed on the aft section and I was told it'll be operational in about 3 to 4 weeks," is what Mr. Henderson heard on Enchantment of the Seas.

Another reader, Jeff Robinson, is on Independence of the Seas and heard it will be a few more weeks, "Voom is on its last month of contract and when the month is over, Starlink."

Why Starlink on cruise ships matters

ebook reader

If having interenet access on a cruise vacation doesn't get you excited, you might be in the minority.

Just like anywhere on land, having reliable and fast internet access has become a way of life and not just for those looking to do some work while at sea.

Society has become more reliant than ever on having internet access, and on a cruise ship, the internet is the way to stay in contact with the outside world.

Social meda stock photo

Whether texting or calling family, checking on the latest updates on social media, or tracking sports, casual internet use is a major need for a lot of travelers.

And then there's the contingent of vacationers who do have a need to keep up with work while on vacation, or prefer to work remotely from somewhere else.

Up until now, Royal Caribbean's internet service had been hit or miss, depending on the ship you sailed on and the region of the world you visited. All but the newest ships had mediocre to poor internet speeds, and even the new ship internet access was generally slower than internet access on land.

What can guests expect?

Starlink internet receivers on Freedom of the Seas

Royal Caribbean did not divulge technical details about the Starlink service onboard, such as what kind of speeds guests can expect or how much bandwidth each ship will receive. 

They did say passengers should expect to use streaming services and make video calls once deployed.

Another big question is price.

Starlink on Royal Caribbean

No pricing has been shared for Starlink, and it remains unknown what price changes, if any, will occur as a result of the switch to Starlink.

When Royal Caribbean tested Starlink on Freedom of the Seas earlier this summer, they did not alter the prices during the trial period.

Read moreI tried Elon Musk's Starlink internet on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Many readers seem to think prices will go up as a result of the upgrade, but the company has not commented on pricing.

SpaceX's Starlink could be added first to Independence of the Seas

02 Sep 2022

While Royal Caribbean has not confirmed any roll out schedule for its new Starlink internet deal, there's at least one ship that appears to be getting it installed already.

Royal Caribbean announced this week a new partnership with SpaceX's Starlink service that will bring high speed internet access to all Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson did not provide a timeline other than, "the Starlink technology rollout will start immediately across all Royal Caribbean International ships."

In the original press release, the company planned to get Starlink to ships across all three Royal Caribbean Group brands by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

Independence first?

Cruisers aboard Independence of the Seas have noticed work being done at the aft of the ship that seem to be new antennas.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Paul "Land Genie" Crow shared photos from the area near the back of the ship where the new antennas are going.

If true, the antennas are located above the Flowrider surf simulator viewing area.

There's no word yet when the new service will be turned on, but Mr. Crow reports hearing from crew members that the installers boarded the ship in Nassau earlier in the cruise and have been working ever since.

Celebrity Beyond

Celebrity Beyond

If you're cruising with Celebrity, then the Celebrity Beyond could be first for them.

The Verge reports Celebrity Beyond would be ready to launch Starlink on September 5th.

Why Starlink on cruise ships matters

ebook reader

If having interenet access on a cruise vacation doesn't get you excited, you might be in the minority.

Just like anywhere on land, having reliable and fast internet access has become a way of life and not just for those looking to do some work while at sea.

Society has become more reliant than ever on having internet access, and on a cruise ship, the internet is the way to stay in contact with the outside world.

Social meda stock photo

Whether texting or calling family, checking on the latest updates on social media, or tracking sports, casual internet use is a major need for a lot of travelers.

And then there's the contingent of vacationers who do have a need to keep up with work while on vacation, or prefer to work remotely from somewhere else.

Up until now, Royal Caribbean's internet service had been hit or miss, depending on the ship you sailed on and the region of the world you visited. All but the newest ships had mediocre to poor internet speeds, and even the new ship internet access was generally slower than internet access on land.

What can guests expect?

Starlink internet receivers on Freedom of the Seas

Royal Caribbean did not divulge technical details about the Starlink service onboard, such as what kind of speeds guests can expect or how much bandwidth each ship will receive. 

They did say passengers should expect to use streaming services and make video calls once deployed.

Another big question is price.

Starlink on Royal Caribbean

No pricing has been shared for Starlink, and it remains unknown what price changes, if any, will occur as a result of the switch to Starlink.

When Royal Caribbean tested Starlink on Freedom of the Seas earlier this summer, they did not alter the prices during the trial period.

Read moreI tried Elon Musk's Starlink internet on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Many readers seem to think prices will go up as a result of the upgrade, but the company has not commented on pricing.

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