You have planned a cruise vacation, and have booked this awesome 7-day cruise to Alaska that you have been eyeing for a while. You are excited about it, but are worried if staying away from work without any means of communication is good for you.
And you have been wondering if cell phones work on a cruise ship. If so, would you be able to use your carrier or home network? Would using a cell phone on a cruise ship be treated as international roaming? Would you be able to use data / internet on your cell phone while on a cruise ship? What about 3G or 4G?
This posts answers all your questions. But before that…
The basic question
Before you worry too much about using your mobile phone on the cruise ship, ask yourself a basic question:
Do you really want to be bothered by a cell phone while on that long awaited vacation?
Don’t just say that its impossible for you to be without a call phone. Give it some thought. It is reasonable to be worried about reach-ability while on a long vacation, but maybe there is a workaround?
If you are concerned about being reachable for your colleagues, maybe you can:
- Do stuff in advance so that you are no more worried about work while on the cruise ship
- Plan things in such a way that you can finish things after getting back
- Ask for a favor from a colleague and ask him / her to take care of your work while you are away
These are just some of the possibilities. You know your office the best, and I am sure you can think of some innovative way…
If it is your family you are worried about, they can always reach you through the cruise line if necessary.
But if you must use a cell phone on the cruise ship, here are the details.
Using your cell phone on a cruise ship
Almost all cruise ships offer the facility of on-board usage of your cell phone. However, if cell phone access is critical to you, it is advisable to check with your travel agent or the cruise line before booking your cruise – especially if you want to use data on your cell phone along with voice services.
You don’t want to be surprised on the cruise ship if your cell phone carrier doesn’t have a contract with your cruise line! (Please scroll to the bottom of the post for mobile phone carrier related details)
Earlier, the cell phones could be used only when the ship was sailing near the coast or in view of land because land based cell phone towers used by the ship. However, this has changed now for good – modern cruise ships have satellite receivers, which means you can use your cell phone irrespective of where the ship is – even in the middle of the ocean!
The land based cell towers do take over even now when the ship is near the coast. This means that your actual cost for calls would vary depending on exactly where you are at the time of making or receiving a call.
In any case, it is advisable to call up your cell phone service provider before the cruise and enable international roaming if it is not already enabled on your cell phone.
PS1: Both GSM and CDMA technologies are supported by cruise ships, so you should be able to use your cell phone irrespective of whether it is a GSM device or a CDMA device.
PS2: While the ship is at sea and you are roaming, your mobile phone would display network name like cellular@sea instead of showing you the name of your cell phone carrier
Using a mobile phone on the cruise ship – How much does it cost?
Calling from your cell phone while on a cruise ship is not cheap by any means. Although prices vary by cruise lines, normally it comes to about $2.50 per minute. (Calling from the phone in your cabin may cost up to $9.99 per minute). You might see charges like international roaming on your cell phone statement as well.
Remember, you would be charged for incoming calls, and also for the time when someone if leaving a voice message for you. So, when you don’t want to be charged for cell phone usage, it is best to switch the phone off.
For the most accurate charges and other details for your cell phone service provider, please visit the carrier-specific links at the bottom of the post.
How to dial a number while using your cell phone on a cruise ship?
The format is:
Dial “+” followed by country code followed by the number
So, if you want to call the US, dial +1 and then the number.
Important things to remember
- Get international roaming activated on your cell phone
- Switch your phone off when you don’t want to be charged
- Both technologies – GSM and CDMA – are supported
- Some ships have quiet zones (like theaters, restaurants and dining halls) where cell phone use is not allowed
Mobile phone carriers and cell phone usage on a cruise ship
No service on cruise ships.