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How To Use Your Cell Phone On A Cruise Ship

How to Use Your Cell Phone on a Cruise Ship

If you plan to use your cell phone on a cruise ship, it’s important to know that once you sail away from the embarkation port, your cell phone will go into roaming mode, which translates into higher rates and extra fees. While it’s impossible to avoid these charges altogether, there are ways to lessen the costs.  Here, the cheapest ways to use your cell phone while you’re at sea:

1. Download Ship Mate.

With over 1,000,000 downloads, Ship Mate is the undisputed leader in mobile cruise apps. Ship Mate gives users access to reviews, tips, roll calls, and cruise countdowns, but the best part is that many of its features can be used offline. Once you punch in your sailing, you can find your way around the ship with deck plans, learn about all the onboard entertainment and dining, and even get info about the ports you'll be visiting, all without using a single byte of data or racking up roaming charges. If you do purchase a Wi-Fi package (step 3), you'll have access to the app's full list of features, including direct messaging (which you can use instead of texting) and thousands of user photos and tips. Ship Mate is available for iOS and Android devices.


2. Check what your cell phone provider offers.

Major wireless providers have a cruise ship plan with lower rates than regular roaming rates. Contact your provider to sign up for the plan before you depart. Wireless carriers offer data, messaging, and calling plans for cruise ships that are similar to on-land packages, so you can pick the one that best suits your needs.

3. Consider buying a Wi-Fi package onboard.

If you only need the Internet for your smartphone, turn off the phone’s data usage and roaming so that your phone will only connect to the ship’s Wi-Fi. Purchase a Wi-Fi package, which typically costs from 65 to 95 cents per minute. And don’t forget, Apple’s iMessage service is sent over a wireless signal, so if you use that function to communicate with other iPhone devices while connected to Wi-Fi, you can still “text.”

4. Know how to post to social media via text.

You can Tweet by sending texts to your Twitter account, which — depending on your Twitter habits — may be cheaper than a data plan. Just text “start” to 40404 and follow the instructions. Once finished, you can text your Tweet to the 40404 short code, and it will post to your Twitter account, no Internet needed. Facebook has a similar feature, allowing you to text your updates to a short code.

Cruise Plans

These rates are a general overview, and prices may change for certain ships, ports, or devices. Remember that if you buy the cruise ship plan from your wireless provider, those rates only apply when you’re in international waters. Once you’re within 12 miles of a port, the roaming rates for that country apply.




AT&T Cruise Ship Plans*

Bundle Includes
No Bundle $2.50/minute, $.50 text, $10.24/MB
$30 Talk 50 minutes, $1/minute overag, no texts, no data.
$60 Talk and Text 50 minutes, $1/minute overage, 100 texts ($0.50/message overage), no data.
$120 Talk and Text 50 minutes, $1/minute overage, 100 texts ($0.50/message overage), 100MB ($10/10MB overage).

*Standard plan rates used for texts received.


AT&T Port Plans*

Bundle Includes
No Bundle (Canada/Mexico) $1.00/minute, $0.50/text, $1.30/picture & video, $2.05/MB
No Bundle (Europe) $1.50/minute, $0.50/text, $1.30/picture & video, $2.05/MB
No Bundle (Rest of World) $2.50/minute, $0.50/text, $1.30/picture & video, $2.05/MB
$30 Passport $1.00/minute, unlimited texting, 120MB ($0.25. overage),) no WiFi at hotspots
$60 Passport Silver $0.50/minute, unlimited texting, 300MB ($0.20 overage), unlimited WiFi at hotspots
$120 Passport Gold $0.35/minute, unlimited texting, 800MB ($0.15 overage), unlimited WiFi at hotspots

*Standard plan rates used for texts received.




T-Mobile Cruise Ship Plan

Bundle Includes
All T-Mobile Plans* $0.50/received text, $5.99/minute, $15/MB


T-Mobile Port Plan

Bundle Includes
Simple Choice $0.50/received text, $5.99/minute, $15/MB

*Simple Choice Plan customers get these rates automatically.  Customers on other plans must activate these rates by adding the World Class service to each line through My T-Mobile.



Sprint Cruise Ship Plan

Bundle Includes
Simple Choice $0.50/received text, $5.99/minute, $15/MB


Sprint Port Plans

Bundle Includes
No Bundle $2.49/minute*, $0.50/text, $0.05/received message, $5/MB
Sprint Open World $2.49/minute*, $0.50/text, $0.05/received message, $30/GB
$15 Sprint Global Roaming 1-day $2.49/minute*, $0.50/text, $0.05/received message, 100MB
$25 Sprint Global Roaming 7-day $2.49/minute*, $0.50/text, $0.05/received message, 200MB
$50 Sprint Global Roaming 14-day $2.49/minute*, $0.50/text, $0.05/received message, 500MB

*$1.19/minute with Worldwide voice add-on for $4.99/month.



Verizon Cruise Ship Plans

Bundle Includes
No Bundle $1.79 / minute, $0.50 sent text, $0.05 received text, $2.05/MB
$25 $1.79 / minute, $0.50 sent text, $0.05 received text, 100MB
$40 100 minutes ($0.25 overage), 100 sent messages ($0.25 overage), unlimited incoming messages, 100MB


Verizon Port Plans

Sign up for TravelPass Countries, and your normal plan will be extended for $2 per day per line in Mexico and Canada and $10 a day per line in 65 countries including most Caribbean destinations.

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