(The following describes a Carnival cruise ship scenario specifically, but these instructions likely apply to other cruise ships as well.)
I recently completed a Carnival cruise. Carnival places heavy emphasis on its “Carnival HUB” app for staying updated on what’s going on around the ship. It’s a handy app, and its features are all available without purchasing any expensive Internet access from Carnival.
The way it works is this: the Carnival HUB app uses the ship’s Wi-Fi hotspot to retrieve information from specific internal Carnival servers (most of which are probably right on the ship). However, without an Internet access package, Carnival’s internal servers are the only ones that the Wi-Fi gives you access to. This presents a dilemma for your phone, which normally interprets an active Wi-Fi connection as, “I have fast and unlimited access to the whole Internet.” Consequently, when you connect to the ship’s Wi-Fi, you will likely have a lot of apps trying to do background stuff on the Internet (checking email, sync’ing photos to the cloud, etc.). They will fail, try again, fail again, try again later, ad infinitum. As a result, your phone may drain the battery excessively fast, and may even run hot.
This was my experience on my Carnival cruise, until I discovered a few configuration changes that help the phone understand the context of my Wi-Fi connection. Once I made these configuration changes, the phone behaved much more rationally while connected to the internal Wi-Fi.
The following assume Android 7.0 and a Republic Choice plan (i.e. no Android OS modifications)
- Go to Settings > Data usage > Data saver and turn the feature ON. Data Saver prevents most apps from attempting background data transfers.
- While in Data Saver, click Unrestricted data access, scroll down to the Republic Wireless app, and turn it on. This is necessary to stop the Republic app from complaining about Data Saver being on.
- After connecting to the ship’s Wi-Fi for the first time, go to Settings > Data usage > Network restrictions. Under “Metered Wi-Fi networks”, find the ship’s Wi-Fi network and turn the switch ON. This will make the network appear as a source of cellular data, and apps that are configured to minimize the usage of cell data will restrict their activities accordingly.
Remember to reverse these changes once you are off the ship and have access to regular Wi-Fi again.
Note that if you do purchase an Internet access package while on your cruise, you will likely need to turn OFF the “Metered Wi-Fi networks” switch for the ship’s Wi-Fi. However, you may wish to leave Data Saver on, to give you more control over which of your apps attempt to use the (extremely slow) Internet access.
Moderator’s note: Editing this post to add some additional information that came up in another topic, providing some additonal, excellent advice on how to stay in touch with others in your party while on a cruise: