Cruises are all-inclusive to an extent, since the cost includes your lodging, entertainment, meals and other fun activities. However, one area where you have to beware is when it comes to communicating with the outside world.
(Also see my earlier post: Wi-fi on a cruise)
It is very expensive to make phone calls from a cruise ship. Rates and policies change all the time so it’s pointless to list them here, but here are some general guidelines.
1. Personal cell phone: To use your cell phone while on board, contact your cell phone carrier (Verizon, Sprint, etc.) BEFORE you leave on your cruise. Most likely then will have to enable your phone for international calling. You can expect to pay about $2.50 per minute for voice calls, $0.50 for texts.
2. Calling cards: You may want to use calling cards from a port of call. This may be a good option, but again do your homework in advance. Your calling card may not work from outside the US. E.g. I use Pingo, and Pingo does not work from Caribbean islands to the US, unless you use it with the “soft phone” option – a computer with internet connection is required.
3. Soft Phones: Which brings me to “soft phones”. This refers to a phone program on a computer device from which you can place calls. This may be a great alternative, but remember you will have to pay the wi-fi/internet costs for being on the internet.
4. Ship Phone: Using the cruise line’s phone: Very last resort, it gets very expensive very quickly!
5. Smoke signals: frowned upon, seriously, do NOT light a fire on a cruise ship!
- Make sure to disable your phone’s data and cellular roaming capabilities before you board! Especially if you have a smart phone! Many apps will utilize data or cellular capabilities in the background and you do not want a nasty surprise when you get back home and see your next phone bill! Check your phone manual or call your carrier if you’re unsure how to do this. If all else fails, totally power OFF your phone during your cruise.
- If you’re worried about family members back on shore, have them send you texts occasionally to give you peace of mind that all is well. Texts are much cheaper and that way you can call only if you need to.
- Purchase an internet package from the Cruiseline and utilize emails instead of phone calls for communicating. Again, see my earlier post: Wi-fi on a cruise.