How to use your phone, text or wifi on a cruise without spending a small fortune. Stay connected to family and friends on and off the ship! Plan ahead with this handy guide.
When you’re traveling on land, particularly if you remain in your home country, you probably don’t give more than a passing thought as to whether your cell phone will have service, whether you can still text your family and friends throughout the day, or whether you can search up answers to the burning questions of the day with a few finger taps. But all of those things that you take for granted on land, change significantly once you step on a cruise ship.
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Suddenly, you may encounter issues with using your cell phone to call and text, and also with accessing wifi on a cruise – whether by phone, tablet or computer. And, if you want to maintain any type of digital connection to the world outside of the ship, or even with your travel companions sailing on the same ship, you’re going to need to do some planning in advance. Particularly if you want to stay in touch without breaking the bank, wasting large amounts of time, or tearing your hair out. So read on to find out what you need to know.
The Reality of Digital Communication At Sea Today
I have vivid recollections (or flashbacks) of the dinosaur age of technology for guests on cruise ships. I was so mercifully glad to be able to get away on a long awaited family vacation. And I felt lucky that I had only a modest amount of work tagging along with me. Just a few hours at most and one possibly two conference calls. Hah!
I got an early start, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Wanting to avoid the wait list for one of the ship’s shared computer terminals (which was the sole guest option for accessing the internet). I thought I would knock out an hour or two and be done in time to catch the tail end of a late breakfast.
Many hours later, I was still sitting there. Knuckling through an excruciatingly slow connection that dropped too many times to count. The gaps between actual connections lasting longer than the intermittent connections themselves. Growing frustration and anger at the pitiful cruise wifi as various family members and friends wandered by to check on me — on their way to dinner. I wracked up a significant internet bill (charges assessed by the hour/minutes) and wasn’t even able to finish the project.
And as for those conference calls. The special cruise package offered by my cell carrier that I had been so pleased to find and sign up for – a total bust. I was never able to connect once in 2 weeks – except when I was on shore and tracked down a landline. That was around 2008/2009.
Fast forward 10 years, and things have improved so vastly from those earlier days. Can you expect the same level of internet service and communication access that you have at home? No. But when compared to how things were in the past, improvements are marked and stunning. Now, on cruises, you should be able to access wifi anywhere on the cruise ship, including your cabin. You no longer have to seek out the computer lab and fight other passengers for access. Kick back with your laptop and beverage of choice in the privacy of your balcony or any other cozy spot you desire.
As for texting, you have a variety of options for texting with your travel companions for little to nothing. And, if you’re willing to pay a bit more, you can have access to social media and streaming. And most cruise lines offer some version of an “unlimited” package. No more anxious clock watching!
As for cell service, that can still be somewhat hit or miss. I have pretty much abandoned trying to use my own carrier for cruise ship service because it so very rarely works. But I’ve travelled with others who had much better luck and were completely satisfied with their carrier’s service and packages.
Cell Phones On Cruise Ships
As a general matter, you will have the ability to use your cell phone on a cruise ship. The primary issues are whether your carrier offers service at sea and the costs. When you are on a cruise and trying to figure out cell service, you will have other considerations besides your geographic location in the world. You have to determine whether your carrier offers coverage with your cruise line and specifically with your individual ship.
And, assuming that you have a carrier that offers coverage for your specific cruise, you will need a special plan for the charges. Otherwise, the default would be very high rates akin to international roaming charges. But note that your cellular calls at sea aren’t typically included in a standard international plan.
In theory, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile all offer cruise ship coverage. But, just as with being on land, your actual success with getting service can vary as between the different carriers. You will need to decide before you leave on your cruise whether you want a cruise package. Generally, you can not apply the plans retroactively.
AT&T Cruise Ship Packages
AT&T provides coverage while at sea. But International Day Pass and/or Passport packages do not apply to cruise ships. Only AT&T cruise packages will cover usage aboard cruise ships. And, only certain cruise ships are covered. You can find a current list of included cruise ships at att.com/cruisehips.
Cruise ship package rates apply only when you are more than 12 miles from port. Once within the 12 mile zone, standard roaming rates for that country apply. If you sail on a non-qualifying ship, any cellular use will be billed at pay-per-use rates.
If you do procure a cruise package, your usage on shore may also be included. Certain ports in Canada, Mexico and most Caribbean countries will be covered.
Packages last for 30 days and automatically expire. Even though your cruise may last less than 30 days, no proration is available.
AT&T offers three different options for cellular coverage on cruise ships: (1) Talk & Text, (2) Talk, Text & Data, and (3) Pay-Per-Use Calling. Packages are available on a per-line basis. Each device must have its own package.
- The Talk & Text plan costs $50 and includes 50 minutes of talk. Additional minutes are $2.00 each. You have unlimited texts, but standard domestic messaging rates apply to any text, picture, and video messages received.
- The Talk, Text & Data plan costs $100. It includes unlimited talk and text and 200MB of data. Additional data costs $2.00/MB. Standard domestic messaging rates apply to any text, picture, and video messages received.
- AT&T also offers pay-per-use rates for those who do not have a cruise package, sail on a non-covered ship or whose plan expires. The cost is $3.00/minute for calls. Texts are .50 each for regular messages and $1.30 each for picture or video messages. Data is $6.14/MB.
AT&T cruise package allowances and overage rates for usage on-ship only apply when “Cellular at Sea”, “Nor-18,” or “901-18” displays on your device.
Sprint Cruise Ship Packages
Sprint offers cruise packages for specific cruise lines and ships. You can find a search tool on the Sprint website that allows you to determine whether your specific cruise is covered.
On covered ships, coverage will be included as part of Sprint Global Roaming at the following rates: $2.50/minute talk, $.50/recipient text, $60/100MB data, and $100/250MB data.
T-Mobile Cruise Ship Packages
T-Mobile offers cruise packages for specific cruise lines and ships. You can find a search tool on the T-Mobile website that allows you to determine whether your specific cruise is covered.
T-Mobile ONE and Simple Choice Plan customers receive the following rates on cruise ships: $.50/sent text and $5.99/minute talk. Customers on other plans must activate these rates by adding the Word Class Service to each line.
T-Mobile does not offer cellular data for cruise ships.
Verizon Cruise Ship Packages
Verizon offers coverage at sea. But, once you’re within 12 miles of a port, the roaming rates for that country apply. Verizon Pay as You Go is only available on specific cruise lines. The charge is $2.99/minute for talk and $0.50 for texts sent or received. Verizon does not offer cellular data service on cruise ships while at sea.
For time in port, Verizon offers TravelPass and your normal plan will be extended for $10 per day per line and works in most Caribbean destinations.
Controlling Cell Phone Costs
You can control or limit your additional costs by managing the cellular data that you use on board. Note that some apps consume more data than others, so you may want to carefully monitor or disable data hogs. Take a close look at any games that have heavy graphic and require an internet connection. And any apps that center on navigation, weather or news.
Streaming content requires a substantial amount of data. If you intend to stream, you should use a cruise ship wifi package for that rather than rely on your cellular data.
Turn off data roaming and international data roaming. Only turn back on when on shore and if you have a suitable plan.
What Cruise Passengers Need To Know About Data & Internet Access
Whether or not you plan to access the internet using your cell phone or sign up for an internet plan through the cruise ship, you will need to get a handle on data.
Wifi vs. Cellular
Both wifi and cellular data allow you to connect to the internet wirelessly. Typically, wifi allows you to connect using a router based system while a cellular data plan allows you to connect using your carriers cell phone signal. Both versions will connect, but they involve differences in speed and cost. (And also security).
Typically, cellular data access covers a wider range (which can be measured in miles), but can be slow. While wifi access will have a range with much narrower scope (think of the router in your home or a coffee shop – a limited number of feet/yards), but can be significantly faster.
For more explanation of the difference between cellular access and wifi access, check out this explanation from PC Mag.
Both Wifi and Cellular Require “Data”
Whether you connect to the internet using a wifi connection or your cellular data plan, you are still consuming “data.” The significance of this fact may not be readily apparent when you’re cruising around town because most cell plans only charge you extra or impose caps on the use of cellular data. If you’re able to connect to the internet through a wifi connection – whether on your phone or a tablet – usually there is no additional or noticeable charge.
The difference becomes more important, however, when you are cruising around the ocean on an actual cruise ship. Depending on your cell phone carrier, you may not be able to access cellular data at all. And, for those carriers that permit it, the costs can be substantial.
Likewise, if you decide to access the internet using a wifi plan sponsored by your cruise ship, you’ll discover key limitations on data usage. Rather than distinguishing the method of how you’re connecting to the internet, most cruise plans seem to focus on the type of internet usage that you’re doing. So some plans may allow only activities that require low data consumption (thus no streaming). While other cruise lines may offer tiered packages that permit high data consumption at the upper tiers. Or, alternatively, they may offer packages that charge based on the total amount of data consumed regardless of the type of usage – surfing or streaming.
Where Does Wifi Calling Fit In This?
Wi-Fi Calling allows you to call or message (SMS) from almost anywhere that you have a wifi connection, which is great if you’re in an area with limited or no cellular network coverage. Generally, a wifi call will not count against plan minutes for those who don’t have an unlimited plan. Also, for newer model phones, wifi calling can be available in airplane mode.
Depending on your carrier, wifi calls to US numbers can be free, even while traveling internationally. And, wifi calling consumes only a limited amount of data – about 1 MB/minute of data for voice calls.
For more details on using wi-fi calling, check out this explanation from CNet.
You can also use wifi calling over the cruise ship’s wifi provided you sign up for the right internet package. Specifically, you’ll want one that’s sufficient to support VoIP and streaming.
How Much Data Do You Need?
In order to decide whether to get an unlimited plan or a cheaper plan that may have data caps, you need to have some idea of how much data you are likely to use. For your planning purposes, here’s a list of common internet activities and the approximate data usage associated with them:
- 10 emails (a mix of ones with and without attachments) = 0.5-1.5 MB
- 10 minutes web surfing = 2.5 MB
- uploading/downloading 5 photos = 25 MB
- 10 minutes streaming music = 9 MB
- Streaming video (standard definition) = 500-700MB/hour
Tips for Conserving Data Usage
- Turn off all automatic updates in the Play Store and App Store (check all devices – phones and tablets)
- Turn off all automatic downloads for email, music, apps and updates
- Pause auto synchronizations and cloud backups
- Stop apps set for automatic background refresh
- Turn off automatic uploads for photos (to Google Photos, IOS photo stream, or AMZ photos)
- Disable location services
- Turn off auto software updates
- Check social media settings – disable or downgrade any auto image preview and video autoplay.
Cruise Ship Wifi & Internet Access
Wifi and internet access is readily available on most major cruise ships. But in most instances you will have to pay for it.
Why would you want or need internet access while on your cruise vacation? Possibly you need to stay in touch with folks at work? Or, perhaps you want to stay in contact with family and friends back home. Whether just checking in, or because you like to keep up a steady engagement in your social media accounts. And, access to wifi on a cruise can also facilitate your ability to stay in contact with your family members and travel companions while on board ship.
Today, on many ships you will find packages offering “unlimited” access in some form and at a relatively reasonable price. While some luxury cruise lines offer free or included internet. For example, Regent Seven Seas, Hapag Lloyd, Silversea and Crystal cruises all include wifi access with your cruise fare. On most large mainstream cruise lines, however, you will have to purchase access for an additional fee. Here’s the basic lowdown on internet packages for mainstream ships:
Carnival Cruise Wifi
Carnival offers three different internet packages. Prices are discounted if purchased prior to sailing.
This is a limited plan for folks who only want to have access to their social media accounts. It supports most of the popular social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Pinterest and Snapchat. You’ll also have access to the major airline sites. It does not support access to streaming surfaces, VoIP or email. Cost: $6.80/day when pre-purchased; $8.00/day on board.
The Value plan includes access to the same networks as the Social plan, plus other regular websites such as news, sports, banking, etc. It does not support streaming or VoIP. Cost: $10.20/day when pre-purchased; $12.00/day on board. For this plan, you can also purchase a 24 hour pass onboard for $16.00.
The Premium plan includes all of the same access as the Social and Value plans but it provides a 3x faster connection. This plan also supports Skype, WiFi calling and FaceTime. It does not generally support streaming services. However, three Carnival ships are “Netflix enabled” which allows use of the Netflix app with your personal account. Those ships are Vista, Horizon and Sunrise. Cost: $14.45/day when pre-purchased; $17.00/day on board. 24 hour pass for $25.00
Key restrictions & limitations:
- You can use multiple devices on a plan, but only one device at a time can connect to Wi-Fi
- Access to certain sites such as mature or violent content is blocked
- VPN connections are not supported.
Royal Caribbean Wifi
Royal Caribbean offers two primary types of Voom packages. Costs vary depending on how many devices you want to include in your package. Note that Royal Caribbean frequently runs specials for packages purchased prior to sailing, as well as additional discounts for bundles that include internet and drinks and other combinations.
The Voom Surf Voyage Package covers basic internet usage. You can text on messenger services, browse the web and send emails using high speed internet.
The VOOM Surf + Stream Voyage Package lets you message and video chat on messenger services, browse the web, send emails and post on social media, and video chat live. Plus stream your favorite videos, movies, music and shows.
When purchased pre-cruise, the VOOM Surf packages start at around $13/day for 1 device and the VOOM Surf + Stream package start around $18/day for 1 device. Note that the number of devices refers to how many devices can be connected at one time. You can switch between multiple devices on a 1-device plan. Packages are available for up to four devices.
Celebrity Cruise Wifi
Celebrity offers high speed internet access fleetwide (except Galapagos) through its XCelerate service. It offers two unlimited package levels: Surf which allows basic internet access and Stream which allows VoIP and streaming. Packages are priced for the entire cruise and can support up to 4 devices. The package price increases with the number of devices. Currently, for a 7 to 9 day cruise, a Surf package costs about $129 for 1 device and the Stream package costs $265 for 1 device.
Disney Cruise Wifi
All Disney Cruise ships offer internet access through Connect@Sea. All access and packages are based on MB usage. You can purchase different buckets of megabytes, or you can use a pay as you go plan. If you buy a package, you cannot get a refund for unused minutes. A package of 100 MB costs $19, 300 MB costs $39 and for $89, you can purchase 1000 MB. Or, you can use the pay as you go plan for $0.25 per MB. Guests sailing in Concierge class have access to some amount of free internet.
MSC Cruises Wifi
MSC Cruises offers five options for purchasing internet access. Prices may vary somewhat based on destination and sailing:
- Unlimited – This package allows you to connect 1 device. You receive full web browsing, access to popular social networks and chat APPs, and you can check email. It has unlimited MB for the duration of your cruise. The regular price is $199.90. The pre-purchase price is $159.90.
- Premium – This package offers the same scope of coverage as the Unlimited plan, but it has a cap of 6,000 MB. You can connect up to 4 devices on this plan. So, it can be a great choice for families. The regular price is $159.90, and you can find pre-purchase discounts up to 20%.
- Standard – This package is designed for limited internet users. It includes 3,000 MB for up to 2 devices. The regular price is $99.90 with up to 20% discount for pre-cruise purchases.
- Chat/Social – This package is designed for teens or other guests who only want to access social media and chat. You can connect one device for up to 1,500 MB. The regular price is $49.90 and it can only be purchased onboard.
- 24 HR – This day pass can only be purchased onboard. It is $44.90 for 1 device and 500 MB.
For more insights into MSC cruise wifi, check out our review of MSC Seaside.
Norwegian Cruises Wifi
Norwegian Cruises offers four different internet packages. Prices below are for standard price onboard purchases. You can receive a 15% discount if you purchase a package prior to sailing. (Note that NCL also offers an option for free internet minutes as an option in its “Free at Sea” promotions. Number of free minutes varies based on length of sailing.)
- Unlimited – This package provides unlimited web surfing, email access (no VPN), social media access, all apps. No streaming allowed. One device permitted at a time. Packages are purchased and priced for the duration of the cruise. $29.99/day.
- Unlimited Premium – In addition to the basic wifi services included in the Unlimited WiFi package, this Premium package includes VPN email access and streaming. $34.99/dy
- Unlimited Social Media – This package provides access to major social media sites. You can view, post and upload videos and also chat on all popular messenger platforms. No access to web browsing or email. May connect 1 device at a time. $14.99/day.
- 250 Anytime Minutes – This package provides 250 minutes of internet access that you can use at any point during the duration of your cruise. $125 total package price.
Holland America Wifi
Holland America offers a 3-tiered package system that is priced per day with discounts if purchased for the length of the cruise.
- Social – A limited access plan that provides access to most popular social media websites and apps, including Facebook and WhatsApp. $14.99 per day.
- Surf – This package allows you to surf the internet, visit your favorite sites, and check email. $24.99 per day.
- Premium – This package provides all of the above service plus it allows audio/video calling and streaming. (However, the actual internet speed available at any point in time may limit the ability to stream.) $29.99 per day.
Discounts available when you purchase for the length of cruise may vary. But, as an example, a package purchased onboard for a 7 day cruise runs $69.99 for Social, $99.99 for Surf, and $139.99 for Premium. A package purchased for a 12 day cruise would typically be $99.99 for Social, $149.99 for Surf, and $199.99 for Premium.
Princess Cruises Wifi
Princess has different types of internet access and packages depending on which of its cruise ships you are sailing. It’s top line offering is MedallionNet Wifi which is offered on a growing number ships. You can find the most current list and the roll-out schedule on the MedallionNet page. MedallionNet provides unlimited wifi access throughout the ship. You can text, post photos, video chat and stream. Packages start at $9.99 per day.
On some ships, Princess offers PrincessConnect which has three packages:
- Social – A limited access plan that provides access to popular social media websites and apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and WeChat. Approx. $14.99 per day.
- Surf – This package provides access to the entire entire. But it does not permit streaming or Skype. Approx. $24.99 per day.
- Premium – This package provides full internet access including streaming and Skype. Approx. $29.99 per day.
Finally, ships that do not offer PrincessCONNECT or MedallionNet have minute based pricing that varies. Princess makes specific pricing available to guests when they log in to the Cruise Personalizer for their sailing. Some representative pricing: 120 minutes for $69; 240 minutes for $99; 460 minutes for $159; and 680 minutes for $199.
What About Wifi Access When You Are Off The Ship?
Whatever wifi package you may purchase through the cruise ship, it won’t work while you are on shore. But you still have options.
First, your regular cell phone carrier may offer service on land. (see above). Second, you will likely find internet cafes or other establishments that offer free or low cost wifi. It is very common to find restaurants offering free wifi, but you can also sometimes find free or cheap wifi at the beach. Particularly if it is affiliated with a resort. And, more surprisingly, on several recent cruises we have also found that there are excursion operators who offer free wifi on tour buses.
Whenever you are accessing wifi through relatively public facilities, be cautious about transmitting any personal information.
Texting On A Cruise Ship
As with internet service and cell service, you can also usually have the ability to text on a cruise ship. There are generally three methods for doing so with differing cost implications:
- Using your cell plan for texting
- Texting using cruise wifi
- Exchanging texts using the ship’s messaging app
Text Using Cell Plan
If you have cellular service available on board through your regular carrier, you will also likely have the ability to text. However, any charges will be specified by your carrier. See above. Generally, you probably won’t have any “unlimited” texting on such a plan like you might be used to at home. Instead, you will have some type of per text charge. Most likely for outgoing text messages. And, at 50 cents a pop – a typical charge – this can add up quickly.
Text Using Cruise Wifi
One of the best alternatives to using your regular cell carrier for texting is to use a third party app over wifi. These apps are typically free. A great free option is WhatsApp. It’s available for both iPhone and Android. However, if you don’t already have an account, you will need to download the app and set up the app prior to leaving home (or at least while you are on land).
While the third party apps like WhatsApp are free. Meaning there is no charge for the app itself. Nor is there any charge for sending or receiving individual messages. But, you will need access to the cruise ship’s wifi which typically requires some type of paid package.
Using WhatsApp as an example, you can send regular narrative messages, text photos and videos, and to some extent, you may be able to have a video call.
If you want to communicate with your travel companions, this is a great convenient way to do so, provided they all have wifi access.
Some folks may be turned off by WhatsApp due to its connection to Facebook. Here are some recommendations for potential alternatives. (But note, the only one that we can confirm has successfully enjoyed widespread usage on a variety of cruise ships and destinations is WhatsApp.)
- Using the Zello Walkie Talkie App on a Cruise Ship
- The Best WhatsApp Alternatives
- 11 Alternatives to Whatsapp that Actually Respect Your Privacy
Text Using Cruise Line App
Most of the major cruise lines now have some type of app that can facilitate digital communication. These have also greatly improved in recent years. The cruise line app can keep you apprised of what’s going on aboard the ship at any given moment. It can facilitate registering for the cruise and making reservations for dinner or show.
Most cruise lines that offer a proprietary app will include some type of messaging service within the app itself. You can use this service to communicate with other passengers. You cannot, however, text with people who are not on your cruise.
While the app will require access to cruise wifi, usually you are not charged for wifi for using the cruise line app. Meaning if all of you are using cruise wifi for is to access the cruise line app, you do not need a package to do so. However, some of these proprietary messaging services have a charge. Also, the official cruise line app and/or the messaging service itself may only be available on certain ships.
Note that all of these cruise line messaging services will only work while you are actually on the cruise ship. Once you are on shore or on a shore excursion, you will not be able to use it.
Here’s an overview:
Carnival offers an onboard chat feature through its Carnival HUB app. It costs $5 per user for chat service during your sailing.
Celebrity allows you to chat free of charge with other guests on ships that feature the Celebrity App. This feature is currently known to be available on the new Celebrity Edge, and also on Constellation, Equinox, Millennium, Reflection and Summit.
The Disney Cruise Line Navigator App has an onboard chat feature. This complimentary chat feature offers both one-to-one chat and group chat features. You can also control access by your kids using the permissions feature.
Holland America has a free mobile app that includes a complimentary chat service available while onboard select ships. Visit the Holland America Line Navigator page for the most current ship information.
The MSC for ME app includes a free chat service. You may use this service without an internet package. For an additional fee, you can also use the Family & Friends Locator service. MSC for ME is available on the Meraviglia, Seaside, Seaview and Bellissima ships.
The Norwegian app is available fleetwide as of July, 2019, and it’s free to download. For an additional fee, you can access a calling and messaging service through the app. The one time NCL fee is currently $9.95 per device. This service allows unlimited messaging with other passengers who have the app and group chats. You can also place international calls through the app (to supported countries) for a flat rate of $0.79 per minute. You can also call staterooms and a variety of onship extensions.
The Princess@Sea app has a free messenger service. You can communicate with other guests onboard from your mobile device once connected to the ship’s wifi.
On Princess ships with the new Ocean Medallion Technology, you will be able to chat for free with your shipmates as well as enjoy many other new features. (For more details, check out this post explaining how Ocean Medallion is transforming the guest experience.)
Royal Caribbean’s new app service is not yet available fleetwide. Check this list for the specific ships with access.
Royal Caribbean is actively developing group chat and one-to-one chat features. They are currently available on a limited basis on select ships. Check out this post for more information about the cruise line’s current plans in this area.
Avoiding or Minimizing Unwanted Charges
At the end of your cruise, you don’t want to end up with lots of expensive charges that you didn’t realize you (or your family members) were racking up. You can end up with unpleasant surprises in two ways: on your cell phone bill and/or on your shipboard account. To avoid that unpleasantness, review these tips.
Your Shipboard Account
Let’s start with your shipboard account. If you have signed up for an unlimited cruise wifi package, you shouldn’t encounter any problems. To the extent you are able to access the internet, you won’t have any additional ship charges. But, if you have any package that’s less than unlimited (or no package at all), be aware of the following:
- If you have a certain number of minutes – either purchased or as some type of perk – don’t assume that you’ll lose access once those minutes run out. It is very likely your access will continue unabated and not necessarily with any obvious warning. Meaning that all of the minutes used after the initial package runs out will be assessed at a more expensive non-package rate.
- If you have a package with a set number of minutes or volume, be sure to log off once your session is completed so that you don’t inadvertently continue to consume time.
- If you are assigned a password for your internet account, take a photo of it on the devices with which you plan to use it to facilitate easy log in and log out.
Your Cell Phone Carrier
As for your cell phone carrier, be aware of the following:
- For any incoming or outgoing texts via your regular carrier (as opposed to an app), you may have a per text charge. This includes any texts exchanged with travel companions. A typical charge is 50 cents per outgoing text. If you and/or your family members are prolific texters, this could get expensive very easily.
- International roaming will kick in when you are about 12 miles from port. So, if you signed up for a cruise cell package with your carrier, those rates won’t apply when you are close to shore even though you are physically still on the ship. Instead, you will incur additional fees at whatever international rates your carrier charges. Check the network that’s displayed on your phone before making any calls when if you spot land on the horizon.
Bonus: Sanity-Saving Housekeeping Tips For Phones & Tablets
Smartphone and tablets add a great deal of convenience, efficiency and entertainment value to everyday life. But, you need to take care of a few housekeeping items when you board a cruise ship to avoid those blessings becoming stealth curses.
Beware Automatic Clock Resets.
When you are on land, it is great not to have to remember the specifics of different time zones, or try to recall who does/doesn’t follow daylight savings time. On a ship, that ability can create major problems because the GPS systems that allow your phone to auto reset to local time everywhere in the world don’t seem to work right at sea. And, they don’t necessarily have any correlation to “ship time”.
Turn off all alarms.
Even if you disable automatic time resets, turn off all of your regular alarms. As noted above, the auto time can get really screwy when you are on the ocean. And, even if the clock seems to be right when you go to bed, time gremlins seem to come out to play at night while you sleep. To avoid you and everyone else in your cabin being blared awake at 3:00 in the morning, turn off the alarm on your phone or other electronic devices. Also be aware that even if you set the auto reset on your phone to manual, this change may somehow mysteriously reset itself without warning. This happened to me repeatedly on a recent cruise with a Samsung Galaxy 10+. Either bring a non-GPS travel alarm clock, or use the ship’s wake up call service.
Bring back up power source.
Your battery consumption may increase significantly compared to your typical consumption at home. In addition to using whatever power saving measures your phone may have, also carry a portable battery/charger. Even if you never run into consumption issues at home. Many things can substantially increase your power consumption. For instance, if you are using your phone or tablet as a camera or shooting videos. Or, if your device is constantly trying to access a wifi network and failing.
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Safeguard downloaded content.
Be aware that your previously downloaded content may become inaccessible when you’re traveling. Either because of locality restrictions, or because some unexpected Amazon quirk wipes everything out. The quickest and easiest way to prevent that is to turn off wifi on the primary device you use for viewing content while you are at or near home and don’t alter it until you are back home. That way your device will not register that you have left the country (as it would if you connect to wifi).
Note that the locality issue can kick in with content downloaded from any and every service – Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc. Meaning that certain movies and televisions have restricted viewing rights outside the U.S., or in specific countries. And these restrictions may apply even to content that you actually purchased. It can be extraordinarily frustrating to take the time to download hours of content for all family members and then not be able to use it when you most need it.
Also, regardless of any regional restrictions, downloaded content on an Amazon tablet may be at risk of disappearing if you’re connected to wifi. This is not a travel issue. It can happen at anytime. When you are at home and can easily download for free again, it’s not that huge a deal. But when you have limited or no access to wifi that will allow free downloading, it is so very sad. This has happened to us many times. All downloaded videos disappeared from multiple devices at the same time. Without any warning. (I believe that this is related to automatic software updates, but have never been able to confirm that as fact.)
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