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How to Connect at Sea using Disney Cruise Wifi

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Taking a cruise, but still need to connect to the real world? Take heart, Connect at Sea allows you to plug into your Disney cruise wifi. Here are some important details along with how to use it.

Large cruise ship, black on the bottom, white on top, anchored in the water with a blue sky
Stay connected while at sea

What is Connect at Sea?

Connect at Sea enables you to access the Disney Cruise internet service. From here, you can do whatever you need to whether that’s Facebook (or any other social media platform), Email or just surfing the web.

Enable all of your devices or just one. It’s up to you how much you need, or want, to remain connected. Be warned, though. Disney Cruise wifi is not cheap.

All Disney cruises have wifi. Plus, each Disney cruise ship has a Connect at Sea helpdesk. Stop by and pick up a brochure for current data rates or for any help you need connecting to the internet. Check your Navigator to see where they are located and the hours it is staffed.

Written instructions from Disney Cruise Line on how to Connect at Sea
Pick this up at the Connect at Sea helpdesk

Disney Connect at Sea prices

Either pay as you go or buy an internet package.

Disney Cruise Wifi Cost

As of November 2019, wifi on the pay-as-you-go package is 25 cents per megabyte. If you are not certain how much wifi you will use, this could be a good starter. You have the option of purchasing a package at any time.

A small data package of 100MB is available for $19. This would be the optimal choice for someone that still wants to stay connected by checking email every so often.

The medium package provides 300MB for $39. If you plan on posting your vacation photos to Facebook or Instagram, this plan may be for you.

If you need to do more data-intensive work, the 1000MB plan at $89 would be your best choice. Data can be shared, so if there are several of you that want to stay connected, this plan may be sufficient.

Do I need to buy a data package?

Absolutely not! In fact, neither my husband nor I purchased any data. We completely unplugged on this vacation.

It was great not having Little K ask if she could watch YouTube. She was told no internet from the start and just dealt with it.

Is there anything for free?

Yes! Actually, you can get 50MB of Disney Cruise Line wifi for free. There is a catch, you have to claim this data before midnight on embarkation day (your first day on the ship).

Here’s how to get it:
– Turn Airplane mode on
– Turn wifi on
– Select DCL-Guest Wifi
– Once in your browser, type dclguest.com
– If it’s Day 1 on the cruise, you will see the option for 50MB free, plus the data packages

What is DCL-Guest?

DCL-Guest is the network name for the Disney Cruise Line internet. Besides connecting to this for data usage, there are a few onboard uses of it too.

Disney Navigator App 

The Disney Navigator app works with the ship’s Wifi. No data is needed. Download this while you are still at home to avoid any data charges. See Disney Cruise Embarkation tips for more information.

The Navigator app tells you everything about your cruise. From where you are having dinner that night to where you can find Disney character appearances. Use this app for anything pertaining to what’s happening on the ship.

In addition, there is a chat feature that lets you text anyone once you have their chat id. Truthfully, this is a little clunky, but once it’s set up, it does work.

Cell phone app showing 'Select a Day' and then 4 pictures of where the cruise ship was going
Use the Navigator App for all ship activities

iMessage usage

Speaking of texting, anyone with an iPhone can use iMessage to chat with anyone else that has an iPhone, whether onboard the ship or not. You must be connected to DCL-Guest. This is a completely free feature on a Disney cruise.

This enabled me to keep in touch with family and friends back home without using any data as most of them have iPhones. Pictures, however, would not send nor could they be received. Text only.

iMessage texts to non-iPhone users will not go through. Both users must be on iPhones for this feature to work.

Personally, I thought this was great. We didn’t have to purchase an internet package, yet I could still text my family and best friend.

Get free wifi in Disney ports of call

While I never paid for wifi on the Disney cruise ship, I did connect to the internet a couple of times in port for free.

Many of the town squares or shopping areas have free internet. Just look for a sign with internet information and connect. I was able to download all my emails and browse through them looking for anything important.

Take advantage of it where ever you can.

Some restaurants and bars also have free wifi. Think Starbucks.

Use this time to your advantage if you are just shopping around in the port and have a few moments to use their internet.

White Mickey head against a red background with blue waves with blue sky and white clouds in background
Enjoy the ship, but you can stay connected if you want to

Does Castaway Cay have wifi?

Unlike other ports of call that have free wifi, Castaway Cay does not. You need to use the internet package you purchased or the wave phones provided (see below). 

The Navigator app still works on this island, though, so you can stay up to date on what’s happening throughout the day.

Helpful Disney Cruise wifi tips

If you have purchased a Connect at Sea package or are using the free 50MB, turn off all background downloads or updates. This prevents your data from being used up faster.

iPhones on iOS 13 and higher have a low data mode that automatically restricts any background work such as transferring to iCloud.

Simply tap the ‘i’ next to DCL-GUEST in your wifi settings and click the slider for the low-data mode. Everything else is taken care of in the background.

Another good rule of thumb is to log off the wifi once you are done using it. This will also help prevent any accidental background data from using your megabytes.

DCL Wifi Wave Phones

Disney provides each stateroom with wave phones that can be used onboard or at Castaway Cay.

This is yet another option of how to stay in touch with members of your party, especially if you don’t have an iPhone that can utilize the free iMessaging.

Wave phones allow you to:

  • Send and receive text messages
  • Set alarms
  • Access the stopwatch and calculator

If you drop your child off at a kids club, you need to have a way to be contacted and the wave phone is a perfect choice. Plus, this saves on any Disney cruise wifi you may have purchased.

But, be careful to not lose or damage them! There is a $250 fee that will be charged to your stateroom if it’s not turned in on debarkation day.

Carrying your phone on a cruise

Ok, this just may be me, but I hate carrying around things. I gladly check bags on a plane just so I can feel lighter and not have to deal with carrying anything in the airport.

Since I didn’t want to lose my phone on the cruise, I purchased a small, cross-body bag to hold just my phone.

I didn’t need to carry anything else because my Disney Key to the World Card (which acts as your room key and a charge card) was in a lanyard around my neck.

Here’s a few you may consider:

 

Connect at Sea with Disney Cruise Wifi Summary

Although I didn’t purchase any data, I’m glad my iPhone let me ‘Connect @ Sea’ with people back home by using iMessage.

The free wifi on Disney Cruise was just enough for me, but I know this won’t work out for some people.

Everything else piled up, such as the 1,000 emails I had once I got home, along with all my Facebook notifications. But, in the end, it was worth it to disconnect completely. I was present for absolutely everything – even watching Descendants 1, 2 or 3 before bed with my daughter. Although I now know the words to most of the songs, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Have you ever completely disconnected for a week? Was it worth it? Let me know in the comments!

For other Disney Cruise information, check out the following:
How to organize your Disney Cruise Stateroom
Disney Cruise Embarkation Day Tips

Please PIN this! Thank you.

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2 Comments

  1. What ship were you on? The Fantasy , in an outside cabin did not offer the wave phone that you speak of. We just got off the ship July 16. Was there something that you had to do to get the iPhone to work? I couldn’t do anything other than the DCL App..Castaway Cay, the app definitely DID NOT work. I have Verizon and the wife has AT&T, we both have iPhones (granted only 10’s), but we couldn’t get ours to work without me tapping into the International feature on my phone.

    1. Yes, we were on the Fantasy. It was Christmas 2019, so just before everything shut down. I did some research on your questions. It looks like the wave phones are ‘paused’ because they are high-touch items. I will go ahead and mention that in my post. Now, the question of whether iPhones work or not is a little harder. I read several forums where people said iMessage worked fine, some people said it did not work for them, and others said it worked for a couple of days, then it stopped working. So, I am not sure what to think! At that time, I had an iPhone XR. I had no issues using iMessage with DCL_GUEST wifi to keep in touch with those back home – just couldn’t send pictures. There was a forum where people said last month (June 2022) that it worked perfectly fine for them, but they heard that Disney was upgrading its internet in July. I wonder if you happened to be in the time period some upgrade was happening. It’s frustrating that it works for some people, but others it does not and I can’t begin to think why that would happen. Sorry that it didn’t work for you! If anyone else has any comments related to this, please let me know!