Any experience w/ cell phones on Alaska Cruise?

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#1
260 Posts
Joined May 2006
I am a little confused about how much it may cost us to use cell phones on our upcoming NCL Pearl cruise which does the inside passage RT from Seattle. I really have no plans to use it much at all, could care less about keeping touch with friends at home while on vacation, but it would be a great way to keep in touch with the other members of our party while on board (rather than the walky talkies which are bulky and not too reliable in my experience). I called me cell carrier (ATT) and they said that intl roaming rates are $2.49 minute talk and 50 cent per text message sent. Since our phones have both cababilities most likely we'd just do the text mesage thing (where are you at, or meet me in the casino etc.). At 50 cents per, maybe we do it 20-30 times in the week, I could live with the addtl $15 charge for that convenience. But I'd like to avoid the unexpected especially since I didnt get a real warm fuzzy talking to both NCL and ATT about how they were both guessing as to how this would work. When talking with ATT they said they think the towers on board are turned off when you are within 8 miles of shore at which case you are back on your nornal plan - no roaming. But in the case of an Alaskan Inside Passage cruise, aren't you mostly always within 8 miles of shore? Anyway, I was wondering if anyone had first-hand experience in this, or post cruise horror stories about the bill from their carrier as well as any practical advice to minimize the unexpected shock. Thanks.
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#2
Houston
177 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Good question. I'll be doing an Inside Passage cruise in July and wondered the same thing. I'm also with AT&T and, according to the coverage map on their website, coverage is very spotty in Alaska. And I definitely don't want to pay $2.49 per minute roaming fees!

Thanks to anyone who can help enlighten us on this issue!

Deborah
#3
Anchorage, Alaska
2,751 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Coverage in Southeast Alaska is pretty much limited to the ports themselves (Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Skagway, etc.) I know my local cell phone worked then but not when we were at sea.
#4
1,246 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Ditto what Chenega says. My cell phone worked pretty well in most areas in the ports, with the exception of when we took our tour into the Yukon from Skagway. There were no roaming charges as Alaska is in our nationwide coverage (AT&T Wireless)

We had NO cell phone coverage on the ship out at sea.

I noticed several people walking around with walkie-talkies - especially those with children!
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#5
Anchorage, AK
16,986 Posts
Joined May 2004
And since you all have been here last year, AT&T bought Cellular One here in Alaska, so now there are here as an actual company. So now I've come full circle. Started out with AT&T, they traded parts of California for us with Cellular One, and then a few years later now AT&T has bought Cellular One.

Susan in Anchorage
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#6
Houston, TX
171 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
We were on the Pearl but with veriozn, we only got texts when we were close to port. When we were at Sea with Roaming indicated, no texts came in. Then when we got close to port, if the phones were on - they'd start dinging away (I told them to turn them off but who listens). We did have at least one occasion, where we got billed for them as part of an extended text network. But in all of the Alaska ports (and Victoria althogh I think this was considered international too), the phones worked well.

It doesn't help with your on board communicating. As for the walkie talkie, we had a pair of them and we really couldn't reach far on the Pearl (a couple of decks either way and same end of the ship). They keep coming out with better versions so maybe...
#7
Syracuse, New York
50,529 Posts
Joined May 2000
I've used Tracfone with excellent results in Alaska and same 1 unit/per minute in Canada. Got calls out in the middle of nowhere on a sea day. Better rates than my Verizon.
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Happy Alaska travels

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#8
1,152 Posts
Joined Aug 2002
BQ, we are thinking about Tracfone for AK this summer (to avoid the ridiculously high rates if using our Israeli cellphone!) as we understand this is a NO obligation, NO plan phone. We thought about buying the cheapest we can find in Anchorage on our first day there which is Sunday. Where can we find it? how much does it cost? how do we "load" it? How much is 1 minute? Same rate for int'l calls (overseas)?
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#9
Tennessee
100 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Originally posted by boten
BQ, we are thinking about Tracfone for AK this summer (to avoid the ridiculously high rates if using our Israeli cellphone!) as we understand this is a NO obligation, NO plan phone. We thought about buying the cheapest we can find in Anchorage on our first day there which is Sunday. Where can we find it? how much does it cost? how do we "load" it? How much is 1 minute? Same rate for int'l calls (overseas)?
You can go to their website: www.tracfone.com to learn all about it. My husband has one and we are going to ditch contracts for prepaid wireless. Of course, we don't really use cell phones daily, so it made sense for us.
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#10
Tennessee
100 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Originally posted by boten
BQ, we are thinking about Tracfone for AK this summer (to avoid the ridiculously high rates if using our Israeli cellphone!) as we understand this is a NO obligation, NO plan phone. We thought about buying the cheapest we can find in Anchorage on our first day there which is Sunday. Where can we find it? how much does it cost? how do we "load" it? How much is 1 minute? Same rate for int'l calls (overseas)?
You can go to their website: www.tracfone.com to learn all about it. My husband has one and we are going to ditch contracts for prepaid wireless. Of course, we don't really use cell phones daily, so it made sense for us.
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Chrystal and David



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#11
Tennessee
100 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Originally posted by boten
BQ, we are thinking about Tracfone for AK this summer (to avoid the ridiculously high rates if using our Israeli cellphone!) as we understand this is a NO obligation, NO plan phone. We thought about buying the cheapest we can find in Anchorage on our first day there which is Sunday. Where can we find it? how much does it cost? how do we "load" it? How much is 1 minute? Same rate for int'l calls (overseas)?
You can go to their website: www.tracfone.com to learn all about it. My husband has one and we are going to ditch contracts for prepaid wireless. Of course, we don't really use cell phones daily, so it made sense for us.
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Chrystal and David



Regal Princess-Eastern Caribbean-01/16
Carnival Liberty-Eastern Caribbean-12/13
Carnival Legend-Western Caribbean-05/12
Carnival Legend-Western Caribbean-10/11
Carnival Fantasy-Bahamas-11/10
Carnival Liberty-Eastern Caribbean-12/09
Norwegian Star-Alaska-05/09
Norwegian Dawn-Eastern Caribbean-11/08
Liberty of the Seas-Western Caribbean-10/07
Norwegian Majesty-Western Caribbean-1/06
Carnival Glory-Eastern Caribbean-5/05
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#12
Syracuse, New York
50,529 Posts
Joined May 2000
You should be able to purchase one in Walmart in Anchorage. Then just load it via internet or phone. Sometimes there are better minute deals online. I just dumped one of my Verizon phones last week and got 1110 minutes with the phone for about $165, total.
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#15
Between SF & Yosemite in Escalon, CA
1,876 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Forgive me if this was already covered earlier, but Celebrity says they have a contract with AT&T to use our phones onboard without getting roaming charges. Has anyone on a Celebrity cruise ever had any problems with this? Just don't want any surprises like I received when going to Mexico even with having international coverage there.
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#16
Syracuse, New York
50,529 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by jscdagourmet
Re: TracFones / Alaskan cruise in May
I have emailed tech support for TracFone svc. in Seattle/SE Alaska and will let the board know their answer.
Jane
There certainly is service in Seattle, and a good part of the sailing BC. All were 1 unit calls for me last year. I also spent 5 extra days on Vancouver Island plus 2 split days in Vancouver.
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#17
Juneau
1,321 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
Back to the OP question...The eight miles would probably apply to the ports, but I've noticed the coverage outside communities increasing all along the Inside Passage. I took the ferry from Juneau to Bellingham in January, and folks were constantly yakking on their phones outside the port areas. The ferry used to be a way to get away from the world.

Do use care, though. In a November ferry journey, a man moving to AK was talking away on his cell, and when he got off, I pointed out that we'd just passed a lighthouse, which probably explained his ability to get a signal, but since it was flying the Canadian flag, he should expect international charges.

Edited to add: Since ATT has purchased a local cell phone company, I expect their AK coverage to be better this season.
#18
Florida
363 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
My ATT/Cingular worked just great in ports and actually sometimes within the inside passage...but with my plan, roaming is only free within the US, had to pay extra for calls placed in Canada....Hope this helps..
#19
1,841 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
we used Verizon and didn't have any problem and didn't pay any extra charge either.
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#20
1,152 Posts
Joined Aug 2002
Thanks kiwiwoman, BQ & jscdagourmet. We'll try to find Tracfone in ANC.
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