Many cruisers contact us wanting information on what they can do to keep their cell phone charges to a minimum while on a cruise.
Our first advise would be, do not use your phone while you are out at sea. If you are one of those people that just can't stay disconnected, know that you are not alone. Millions of dollars on cell phone charges are spent each year by cruise ship passengers. Here are a few simple solutions to your problem.
Purchase the embarkation package offered by your cruise line. When you board the ship, you'll find all kinds of packages being offered to you; drink packages, specialty dinner packages, spa packages and internet service packages. Purchase an internet package. The packages normally give you free minutes for buying on the first day of your cruise. Visit the internet café on board the ship. Depending on the length of your cruise and the amount of minutes purchased, you just might score anywhere between 10 to 40 minutes of free wifi.
Turn off your data feature on your phone. We always advise that you turn off your data feature before the ship leaves port on the day of embarkation. It would also be a great idea to keep your phone on "airplane" mode. Those who have forgotten to turn off their data-roaming feature have come home to a hefty cell phone bill. This is because most cell phones will automatically try to pull down messages and emails, regardless of where you are in the world. Keep the data-roaming turned off and only use your wifi feature if you have purchased an internet package.
Take advantage of the Cellular at Sea offer. Most cell phones will work at sea by connecting to satellites strategically located above the earth. The words CELLULAR AT SEA will pop up on your phone's screen and during that time, you will have access to your phone and all of its magical powers. However, know that you are going to pay a hefty price for this convenience. Each text messages could cost you anywhere from a dollar to two dollars and a phone call could cost as much as $3.00 a minute. User beware.
Use the phone in your cabin. Just about every cruise line will also provide you the convenience of simply picking up your room phone and placing a call. While this will not afford you the luxury of posting a photograph of you with a Margarita by the pool, it will serve the purpose of keeping in touch with your loved ones. Rates start at $1.99 per minutes and it's a great way to make a quick phone call home to the kiddies.
Use your phone at the next port of call. When you arrive at your ship's ports of call, you'll more than likely find a place to connect to wifi for free, or at least for the cost of a soda or candy bar that you'll have to purchase to gain access to the wifi code. Some gift shops and cafes will have their wifi codes on sales receipts, so keep an eye out for those. Going this route will save you the money on the wifi package that you might have purchased on board the ship. The best way to find a wifi spot on your stop is to ask any crew member. Crew members usually know where you can find all the great local food and free wifi.
Have a safe journey and remember, you don't always have to post your Facebook and Instagram photos while on board. The photos are just as great if you wait until you're safely home and under the umbrella of your own wifi.