In the 90’s, cruise vacations were all about being disconnected. Calling home was $9.99 per minute on the ship’s phone, and internet at sea didn’t exist. Thankfully, it’s much more affordable these days to talk, text, and surf the internet at sea – if you know what you’re doing.
Remember the following:
1. Data Roaming is Expensive!
If you’re traveling out of the country, consider getting a data plan or just keeping your phone in airplane mode. Most smartphones are set up to retrieve your emails periodically; doing so out of the country can cost you BIG – to the tune of $19.95 per meg.
For comparison’s sake, an iPhone 6 photo is 6 megs before it’s reduced.
2. Learn Cellular at Sea
Just because your phone has a signal doesn’t mean it’s cheap to use. Don’t assume that because you can use your phone on a ship, it’s part of your voice plan – because it’s not.
Once your ship is approximately 12 miles off the coast, your signal switches to a satellite better known to us as Cellular at Sea. That will cost you $2.49 per minute, and $.50 per text applies (fees may vary).
3. Explore International Plans
You can get international packages for fairly cheap. If you have AT&T you can get 200 international texts for $30 and 300 megs of data for $60. Along with data and text, you can get reduced voice plans as well. Depending on your provider, you can expect to pay at least .99 per minute.
4. Shipboard Internet
If you have an iMessage or a Skype app, you can talk to people back home without tapping into your cell phone data. All you have to do is buy a plan from the internet café aboard the cruise ship, and you’ll be able to chat.
Cruise lines are starting to wake up and offer reduced rates for people who want to be online at sea. Carnival Cruise Line just released unlimited wifi packages for as little as $5 per day.
5. Charged Are Billed To Your Phone Bill
The question has been asked a lot. Does using your cell phone onboard get billed to your sail and sign account?
The answer is no.
Your cell phone usage on the cruise ship is between the satellite company and your cell phone provider. The bill will come from your cellular provider.
- Use wireless cafés like Starbucks in ports and not on the ship.
- Buy a cheap international ($29.00 on Amazon) with a pre-paid SIM card from the country you’re going to; this way, you keep track of your spending.
- If composing emails, use the draft feature and wait to send them all at one time when you connect.
- Download a data tracking manager; you can set your allotted data and keep track of it.
- Check out ConnectAtSea.com for tips and advice on how to maximize and optimize your cell phone at sea experience.
- If you have a big phone bill and want to dispute your cellular at sea charges – play dumb!
Do you have a tip about cell phones at sea? Leave it in the comments section!