Does WhatsApp Work On Cruise Ships?

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While you’re on a cruise ship, you’re likely going to want to stay in touch with people – either your friends and family back home or, more importantly, the group that you’re travelling with. 

Me using whatsapp on a cruise

Cruise ships are large, and if you’re separated from your group for an activity, then you want to easily be able to update each other and make plans on when and where to meet up again.

A lot of people rely on WhatsApp at home for their messaging services – but how does it work on a cruise ship?

Can You Use Whatsapp on a Cruise?

You can use WhatsApp on a cruise ship, but only when you are online – so either when you’re connected to a WiFi package, or when you’re close enough to land to have a mobile data signal. 

WhatsApp may appear to work without an internet connection – it will open and let you type and ‘send’ messages, but the messages will only actually be sent to the recipient when you’re online.

If your message has a single tick next to it, that means it’s pending. Only when it has two grey ticks has it been sent to the recipient. Two blue ticks means they’ve seen it.

whatsapp application on phone

Is Whatsapp Free on a Cruise Ship?

By default, WhatsApp is not free on a cruise ship. You need to be online, and most cruise lines charge for internet access, unless you have a special fare that includes WiFi access.

If you’re close enough to land then, in theory, you can use your mobile data, but beware of roaming charges – most providers will charge you extra to use your mobile abroad, including internet data. I recommend that you always have your phone on Airplane Mode while at sea to prevent any accidental roaming charges.

You don’t need a lot of data for using WhatsApp on cruise ship holidays, so for cruise lines that offer tiered internet packages, you can use the lowest one and you should be fine sending messages back and forth. As an example, the Royal Caribbean Voom Surf package is ideal, while the Voom Surf + Stream package is overkill – providing you stick to written messages only.

Read more: Royal Caribbean Internet Packages

If your cruise line offers internet that charges you by the data used or by the minute, you could switch on the internet, send your message, and then switch it off again – reconnecting again in a little while to check for replies. However most cruise lines don’t charge in this way, and instead, just charge an all-inclusive per-day rate.

Hands with mobile phone

What You Need To Know About Using WhatsApp on a Cruise

Here are some things you need to know about using WhatsApp on a cruise.

1. Some Internet Packages Will Block Video/Audio Calls

Depending on which cruise line you’re sailing with, and which internet package you choose, you might be blocked from making video calls or audio calls through WhatsApp. Some are designed with limited bandwidth to only let you use text messaging.

Even if you were able to make video calls, the speed of the internet might make it impossible. So, the best thing to do is stick to using Whatsapp text messages only.

2. Cruise Lines Often Have A Free Alternative

You might not need to use WhatsApp if you’re only planning on chatting with people you’re sailing with. Some cruise lines have a mobile app that you can use without paying for WiFi, which usually includes a messaging service.

It’s not the best – many of them don’t give you notifications, so you have to go into the app to check if someone has messaged you. But if you’ve no plans to use the internet for anything else, you can save money by using one of these apps.

Read more: How to text on a cruise ship for free

3. Not All Mobile Networks Charge For Roaming

Depending on your mobile provider and, more importantly, your destination, you might not have roaming charges – which means that as long as you’re near enough to port, you can use WhatsApp with your included data.

UK cruisers can use it on sailings around the UK, while some providers still don’t charge roaming fees in Europe. Cruise passengers from the US don’t tend to get free roaming but can pay a low flat fee per day with some providers.

Read more: How to avoid roaming charges on a cruise

mobile phone at sea

The Bottom Line

If you’re dead-set on using WhatsApp throughout your cruise, you’re going to need an internet package. It might be worth checking whether there are fares for your cruise line that include your WiFi, as sometimes that can be cheaper.

Bear in mind that you normally have to pay for WiFi for the whole cruise – you can’t always buy a single-day pass.

It’s worth considering the free alternatives on cruise lines that have a messaging service built into their app. Or if you just want to find out where your other cabinmates are, Princess Cruises does offer the Medallion service, which even lets you track them around the ship!

Read more: 21 Things You Need To Know About Princess Ocean Medallion


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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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1 thought on “Does WhatsApp Work On Cruise Ships?”

  1. Hi Jenny, I have a MiFi router, do you know the best sim card for connecting to wifi whilst on a caribbean cruise please?

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