Staying Connected at Sea with Superyacht WiFi
Monday 14 May 2018A yachting holiday used to mean waving goodbye to your internet connection as soon as land dropped out of sight.
Thankfully, due to improved marine technology and declining satellite communications costs, Wi-Fi has become a standard feature on all superyachts for charter. Now you can stay up to date with your business affairs, upload gorgeous photos of your vacation to social media, or stream movies in your cabin — all while floating through an exotic paradise on a luxury yacht.
However, not all superyacht Wi-Fi is created equal, so when you’re looking for yachts for charter with Wi-Fi, you’ll need to discuss your Wi-Fi expectations with your yacht broker in order to be matched with the right yacht for your internet needs.
Tips for Getting the Best Wi-Fi on Superyachts
Know the different options
Yacht owners have a choice of the size of satellite dome they install on a yacht, and the speed and coverage can therefore vary enormously. Don’t expect that just because the yacht has Wi-Fi, that it will be up to your expected level of speed or coverage, so ask your broker for typical download and upload speeds.
Consider a premium package
Some yachts with Wi-Fi offer different levels of internet service, with a premium package offered to those who are willing to pay extra for the service. If you are a businessperson or someone who can’t bear the idea of slow downloads, consider chartering a yacht which offers a premium internet package.
Choose a yacht with local internet coverage
Most superyacht Wi-Fi coverage will have ‘black spots’, that is, their satellite footprints don’t extend outside certain geographical areas. Make sure the yacht you’re chartering has good regional coverage in the area you’re cruising.
Ask about ways to boost your speed or coverage
Find out if your yacht has a Wi-Fi booster, or range extender, to increase the coverage you’ll get from the mainland when cruising close to shore. You’ll also find your mobile phone tends to keep its coverage up to 20 miles offshore - but be aware that you might be stung with large roaming charges while abroad.
Larger yachts for charter will often have segregated Wi-Fi zones to maintain good coverage throughout the yacht, and you simply connect to whichever signal is strongest. You may find that you get much better coverage in different parts of the yacht. (The crew will be able to tell you where the best spots are!)
Additionally, larger yachts will have separate Wi-Fi accounts for guests and crew. If you find that your Wi-Fi speeds are insufficient during your charter, the captain can often restrict crew internet use to essential operations to free up bandwidth for you and your guests.
Appreciate the limitations of yacht Wi-Fi
While a superyacht could easily be mistaken for a mansion, it pays to remember that there are still certain limitations for communications when you’re floating offshore. For example, bad weather at sea will often affect your internet, and you’re unlikely to get speeds as good as you do back home, even when paying for the premium package.
Know what you’re paying for
Charter yachts differ in how they charge for internet bandwidth, and your usage may appear as an extra line on your final bill. You don’t want to ruin the end of your holiday with an unpleasant surprise, so find out beforehand about any extra communication charges. (This will all be detailed in your charter contract.)
Consider clever ways to minimise your internet usage
Because internet at sea is rarely as fast as land-based broadband and may even come at an additional cost, it’s a great idea to download any movies or TV series you want to watch on vacation before you leave home. Also, superyachts always have their own onboard entertainment, so you can ask your broker for a copy of the yacht’s movie library.
You might also want to consider using the internet at the marinas you visit during your charter, although it’s worth considering that these public internet connections can create a security risk.
Your yacht broker is an expert in finding a yacht charter with Wi-Fi that matches your communication needs, so have a conversation about how you and your group like to use the internet before you decide on your perfect yacht.