Disney Cruise Line’s New Internet Pricing: Will it Cost You More?

As you’ve probably noticed by now, we are fans of the Disney Cruise Line. In light of that and a recent announcement the company made, I’m going to switch gears and talk about Disney’s new internet pricing structure aboard their ships.

Previously, you could stay connected at sea by paying Disney for blocks of time for internet access. Other than the fact that shipboard internet access is notoriously slow, you could essentially do whatever you wanted during your time block.  There wasn’t any difference between just checking your e-mail or (trying to) stream movies from Netflix.

With the recent changes, that all has gone out the window.  Now Disney will charge you by the megabyte with no time limits using a pay as you go scheme.  Base pricing starts at a staggering 25 cents per megabyte. Packages are also available to lower that price, but the pricing still will make your wireless data overage fees look like the deal of the century.

Here’s the current pricing for packages as of this writing:

  • $19/100 MB (0.19 per MB)
  • $30/300MB (0.13 per MB)
  • $89/1000MB (0.09 per MB)

You can see current pricing and more details on DCL’s website.

Just looking at those prices can make your hair curl.  But, if you think about the activities you intend to do online, it might not be so bad after all. If you’re planning on doing just some light internet use during your trip, stuff like checking  e-mail, a quick tweet or status update on Facebook, the 100MB package might very well last you the whole cruise.

On the other hand, if you were planning on doing any heavy online lifting during your trip it’s going to cost you.  Leisure stuff like watching Netflix is right out, since it takes about 1gb per hour to stream video from the service, catching up on House of Cards would be a very expensive proposition.  Similarly, posting a video to Youtube of your kids riding Aquaduck for the first time should probably also wait until you’re on dry land.

Here’s one other gotcha you need to be aware of if you do opt to pay for some bandwidth on DCL: background processes.  Tablets, and especially computers are constantly doing stuff in the background.  They download updates, synchronize data to the cloud and so on.  If you’re not careful, you can burn through your data plan without actually doing anything online.

Depending on how the updates run exactly, some may be blocked by the ship’s internet access already.  But, there’s no guarantee of that.  You will need to disable any services you can on your computer like automatic updates and syncing services like DropBox.  On tablets, go into your preferences and make sure you turn off automatic updates for apps and the operating system.

So, is it worth the effort to get online while sailing with DCL?  I suppose that depends on your preferences.  Sending the occasional e-mail back home probably won’t send you to the poor house, but if you’re a total online addict, you might be in for a bad time.

Me, personally, I prefer to not even bother with data connections at sea, as I recently wrote about on this site.

How about you? Will this change make you more or less likely to stay connected while cruising?

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