xFelix
xFelix
Technical Tips for Cruise Trip

There’s lot of tips and recommendations of cruise trip preparation. As a tech person, I summarized some tips focusing on IT technology based on recent cruise trip which may potentially save you time, money and benefit your experience.

Electricity

    • AC Power Socket – US standard Type B and Type F. Some ship provides USB ports for charging but only low Amp. Hard to charge two devices simultaneously. Better to bring your own multiple ports USB charging adapter. Something like this.
    • Hot water pot provided
    • Hair dryer provided
    • Power socket available in bathroom so you can charge your shaver and tooth brush.
    • Out of stateroom, most public area does not provide AC power socket but few Type F sockets for crew members.

Internet

    • Internet Plan / Package – Usually there will be a discount if you ordered your Internet Plan before boarding but still very expensive. However, if you purchase Internet Plan after Day 2 of the cruise trip you will get much better promotion, such as purchase one device get second free, etc. You may also have option to purchase Internet when you only need to use it, such as only at sailing days. Whether to purchase Internet Plan has couple decision points.
      1. Will you survive without Internet?
      2. How many days of your cruise trip? How many days will be on sail and how many days will be in port? (The cruise Internet package shows its value only at those sailing days because there’s no cellular phone signal when you leave far from coast)
    • Personal Hotspot – To save Internet cost, you can consider to get a travel pocket wifi router which can bypass cruise Internet device limitation. You only need to purchase one Internet account for one device, no need to pay the extra. All your devices (iPhones, iPads, laptops etc.) then connect to your personal hotspot for Internet surfing. The travel pocket wifi  needs to be able to support repeater feature which connects to cruise public wifi then share that network with a hotspot that your devices can connect. For the cruise public wifi Internet authentication, you need to setup travel wifi router first, then have your device (eg. iPhone) connect to your travel wifi SSID. Log into wifi router configuration page, let router to scan and connect to cruise public wifi (usually no WPA2 encryption, but open wifi). Once connected, you can now use your device (iPhone) to open a random Internet http URL, you will be redirected to cruise wifi captive portal for authentication. You can create a login credential for your first login then you are good to use Internet. Just remember never connect your devices to cruise public wifi SSID directly and attempt to login if you only purchased one device Internet plan. This trick of course has its limitation that you have to keep your devices within distance of your travel wifi router. In the stateroom, there’s no issue and usually a small wifi router signal can also cover next door rooms if you don’t mind to share your Internet. If you want to use Internet out of stateroom, probably need to take a powerbank with you together the travel wifi router. Be aware, some powerbank may not have enough current to power certain travel wifi router. And some powerbank may have low current auto poweroff function which will also prevents to continuously power certain travel wifi router. My experience is you have to manually press the powerbank power on button to prevent it sleep during the travel wifi router bootup period (which has very little power consumption), once the wifi router in normal working state, it will constantly draw power from powerbank then you can leave your hand off the power on button. Just test your powerbank and travel wifi before on board.
    • Some recommended travel wifi router  (contains ref to support my blog)
      1. GL.iNet GL-MT300N-V2 Mini Travel Router – Powerbank friendly
      2. TP-Link AC750 Wireless Wi-Fi Travel Router (TL-WR902AC) – Normal powerbank may hard to support as it has 5G wireless
    • IP address from US – The cruise ship Internet is via satellite. So you cannot complain too much about the high latency and speed. Especially if your ship is at a location that facing both satellite and the sun. The cruise ship Internet provider is landed in west coast of US if you do a whatsmyip check. So the Internet service such as Google, Youtube will be good. But the service you want to access is in other countries, the speed is not ideal. And may trigger some geolocation block too.
    • URL filtering applied – The cruise ship Internet has its content proxy which filtered out malicious websites and most ‘interesting’ websites you may need. So you will need a VPN connection if you want to use all Internet service.
    • Ports blocking – again as URL filtering, most Internet ports are blocked but leave only a few common service ports open, such as http/https etc. If you want to connect back home OpenVPN, sorry OpenVPN default port is blocked (at least on my cruise ship). You need to have backup plan! In my case, I also have a L2TP IPSEC VPN that I can connect to. :) I haven’t scanned and verified all allowed ports, but at least L2TP IPSEC VPN is allowed there.

Communication

    • Mobile phone – Some people say leave your mobile phone at home when you go to a cruise. I do not fully agree. Nowadays, mobile phone is no longer a phone to make calls. Your cruise ship boarding pass can digitally stored on your phone. You can use cruise ship mobile app to get access all cruise information and book activities even you not pay for Internet plan. I was told that by using cruise ship mobile app, you can chat with other passengers even on free wifi, but I didn’t find out how as I’ve already had Internet. I can use my favorite IM to talk to friends as usual.
    • Walkie-talkie – If you do not want to purchase Internet Plan, walkie-talkie is a must have device when you on cruise. It is very hard to get in touch with your family quickly if you don’t have a instant communication method. To use walkie-talkie you need to follow the laws and regulation of the country you live and going to visit. And you need professional device, not kids toy. Because cruise ship is built with steel architecture, very strong electromagnetic shielding, you need something at least 2w transmit power. Sometimes, some corners, you may also experienced signal interference and blocking. As all crew members are using walkie-talkie, they will occupy most channels, to avoid interference between each other, you can set CTCSS(Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System)with certain coded sub-frequency that only your family know.
    • Stateroom TV and landline – Don’t ignore the existence of room TV, it’s kids’ favorite, and it will give very comprehensive and usefully information. The landline is also quite useful if you want to speak to crew member and other passengers. But the landline is actually segmented between guests and crew members. You cannot dial staff numbers directly but ask for operator’s help. And the phone on public area can get to crew members number.
Written by Felix. Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 Unported.

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xFelix

Technical Tips for Cruise Trip
There's lot of tips and recommendations of cruise trip preparation. As a tech person, I summarized some tips focusing on IT technology based on recent cruise trip which may p…
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2020-01-02