Tips for Navigating Connectivity on Your Summer Cruise

[MIRAMAR, FLA., May 21, 2024] – As the summer vacation season kicks off, many of us are eagerly planning our next adventure, and for some, that means embarking on a cruise. While cruising offers a blissful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, staying connected with family, friends, and work remains important. Let’s face it – the events of the past five years have drastically changed our digital behaviors in how we live, work, and play, making us more dependent on connectivity than ever before.

The truth is, whether you’re sailing across the Caribbean or exploring the coast of Italy, connectivity at sea is a technologically challenging service to deliver. While new satellite services enable the connectivity, it comes at a premium cost for a service that does not compare to our experiences on land. Thankfully, innovation continues to up the capabilities, making it affordable and available nearly everywhere.

What should you, as a cruiser, actually plan for if you need to stay connected at sea? You need to think in advance about how often you plan to use your mobile device, and how you want to stay connected.

The following tips will help you determine the right connectivity offering for your big travel plans. And it will pinpoint if you should rely on cellular services, a ship’s Wi-Fi package … or both.

Here are some interesting statistics from a 2023 study conducted among cruisers on how they use their mobile devices onboard:

  • 20% use for occasional calls, texts, and some Internet
  • 21% want to be reachable by call, text, and apps
  • 20% use mostly for social media
  • 24% want email and Internet browsing
  • 14% expect streaming services

So, will you be a “moderate” user or a “heavy” user? Here is some helpful information for consideration:

  1. “I think I will be a moderate mobile device user.”

If you plan to use your phone for making or receiving calls, occasionally using social media, texting, video calling, and using some data services such as secure banking, your cellular service will be a great option. On a cruise, your connectivity will be through your home carrier on the Cellular at Sea network.You can conveniently use your cellular phone in staterooms and public spaces aboard ships. The Cellular at Sea network becomes available when your ship gets into international waters (about one hour after leaving port). You will receive a text message from your home cellular provider with detailed rates. This will allow you to opt in or out of your home cellular provider’s offer. If you opt in, you can use your phone as normal with some slight nuances, such as needing to use international country codes to place phone calls. Keep “Airplane Mode” turned off for Cellular at Sea to allow calls, texts, and data services to work. Also, enable International Roaming before setting sail. To avoid unwanted roaming charges, close out apps not in use, and turn off auto-updates on apps, location services, and auto fetch on email. Your cellular provider will charge you for your service following your cruise in the next billing cycle.

More than 200 cruise ships offer cellular service, and before your trip, you can check with your cruise line, as well as your home cellular provider, regarding availability. Your cellular provider determines the rates. Available plans are much more affordable, seamless, and reliable than ever before.

Cellular at Sea launched the first cruise package with AT&T with 1 GB of data and unlimited voice and text messages for $100 for a month — and a lower cost plan with less data for $60.

Cellular at Sea also enabled the first-ever Cruise Daily Pass for Verizon customers for $30 a day, providing 500 MB, 50 minutes, and unlimited texting. Cellular at Sea works with 400+ roaming carriers globally, and continues to evolve the options available.

You will want to monitor your cellular data usage as streaming videos or downloading large files can quickly eat into your data allowance if it is limited. Remember that you can manage your data usage by supplementing cellular with a cruise line Wi-Fi package.

  • “I’m sure I will be a heavy mobile device user.”

If you need a robust internet service for email and browsing onboard, Wireless Internet Access via Wi-Fi is recommended. In addition, if you plan to be heavy on social media, again Wi-Fi is recommended. Cruise lines offer multiple internet packages based on your online needs. To stay connected, subscribe to a package that allows you to access the internet for a set fee. Consider one that suits your needs for more bandwidth-intensive applications, such as streaming or downloading large files.

  • “I will probably be a heavy mobile device user…but…”

If, for example, you anticipate spending a lot of time on the internet for email and web browsing, but also need your phone for clients, the babysitter, the boss, or family to reach you, your cellular service is recommended for your phone, and Wi-Fi for your laptop. WMS research also revealed that guests who use both cellular and Wi-Fi are more satisfied with their onboard communications experience than those using just one service alone.

  • Know Before You Go

No matter how you plan to stay connected, keep an eye on new packages and promotions as they come out. Cellular providers and cruise lines alike truly want you to have an excellent passenger experience, so they are always investing in new ways to offer more affordable products and services. Keep an eye out for these deals to save money while staying connected by going to www.cellularatsea.com  

Navigating connectivity on a cruise requires planning and awareness, and you should be able to do so with ease while enjoying your cruising adventure. So set sail with confidence, knowing that you’re prepared to stay in touch with the world both onshore and at sea.