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Texting at Sea - Iphone / AT&T

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Going out on the Breeze this weekend. I've read a lot of posts already about cell phone usage at sea so I'm not trying to ask all the same questions. All I really want to do is be in touch with the US via text (and phone is OK too but not required). I understand that incoming texts are free and outgoing are 50 cents per and based on what I anticipate that wont be too bad. What I got confused on was that some people said that with an Iphone you can get texts from people without Iphones but may not get those from Iphones (Imessages) because that requires WIFI? Anyone with firsthand experience with that? (and if so would that issue go away if I went to settings, messaging and turn off Imessaging?)

 

And then just making sure I do this right, if I really just want to avoid the crazy unknown data charges and don't mind if I get calls and texts. So I was going to go to settings and turn off cellular data and data roaming. But don't put it in airplane mode - does that all sound right for my plans?

 

Thanks in advance for your help.

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Going out on the Breeze this weekend. I've read a lot of posts already about cell phone usage at sea so I'm not trying to ask all the same questions. All I really want to do is be in touch with the US via text (and phone is OK too but not required). I understand that incoming texts are free and outgoing are 50 cents per and based on what I anticipate that wont be too bad. What I got confused on was that some people said that with an Iphone you can get texts from people without Iphones but may not get those from Iphones (Imessages) because that requires WIFI? Anyone with firsthand experience with that? (and if so would that issue go away if I went to settings, messaging and turn off Imessaging?)

 

And then just making sure I do this right, if I really just want to avoid the crazy unknown data charges and don't mind if I get calls and texts. So I was going to go to settings and turn off cellular data and data roaming. But don't put it in airplane mode - does that all sound right for my plans?

 

Thanks in advance for your help.

 

Yes - we had that very issue a couple of cruises ago. But...it's not really a wifi issues as much as data.

 

IF you turn off all of your data while on board - you will not receive imessages. Our way of dealing with it - because we do not want roaming data charges - is for those on board AND those back home to turn off imessage so that the texts from the ship will be delivered as regular text messages.

 

There is a similar concerns with visual voicemails - but that's another issue! :rolleyes:

 

One other point of clarification - incoming texts are at no additional charge - but they are applied to your regular texting plan limits. Not an issue for us - our ATT plan is so old that we all have unlimited texts - but if someone has a specified number of texts per month and they were to go over there would be a charge per text for those delivered too. :cool:

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We have the unlimited internet Go Best plan on our upcoming Silhouette cruise. And have ATT iPhones and iPad. Please someone explain how this works.

Thanks

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"texting" means so many things in today's connected world.

 

Short Message Service (SMS) is part of the cellular communications standard which allows the 140 characters of text to be sent. Since SMS is part of the cellular system, it exists, is well used today and requires an active cellular connection to function. SMS is part of the constant communications/messaging back-and-forth from your phone and the cellular tower/system.

 

With "smartphones" the vendors have devised messaging services that are vendor specific such as Blackberry messenger (BBM) and Apple iMessage. These need a DATA connection to function which is either data over cellular or data over Wifi. These messaging services like Apple to Apple iMessage have additional advanced services in the app that cannot exists via SMS, such as the little “delivered” indicator, emoji, and voice memos. As an iPhone user, in iMessage, if the message shows up in a blue balloon then it's been delivered to you using DATA from a fellow Apple iMessage user, if it's in a green balloon then the message has been sent using SMS and/or is from a non-Apple iMessage user.

 

On land, your iPhone is connected to the cellular system which also has a data connection (e.g. 3G or LTE) AND you may be connected to WiFi (work or home or library, etc.). Your phone decides how to best use these connections and is in CONSTANT communications to the various systems so that the systems know how to best find you.

 

So to your question.

Your options (and a good AT&T customer service rep should be able to answer these questions as well):

- Use cellular-only which allows for phone calls & SMS messages and pay for the roaming charges as you noted. In iPhone, Settings >> Cellular >> and set roaming to “Voice Only”. This tells your phone that when roaming (e.g. on the boat) to shut off all data. This prevents background applications like Mail or Facebook from consuming data as data is shut off. Messages will come to your phone via SMS. I do this all the time when traveling out of the US.

- IF and only IF the only people texting you are iMessage users (blue balloon) then you have an option where you can shut off cellular and pay for the ships WiFi thereby creating your data connection to the world. Put your phone in Airplane mode and then turn on Wifi and connect to the ships Wifi at whatever price they are offering it. You won’t get phone calls and you won’t get SMS messages (no cellular) but iMessage will work. WARNING: Since your “smartphone” is stupid there is no way for it to understand that you’re paying money for Wifi and all the other background data using apps will be running (e.g. mail, facebook, yelp, whatever) and consuming data – every minute of every day. If the ship is offering Unlimited data then this is a non-issue – go enjoy your cruise and gobble the data.

 

If the Ship’s WiFi is per MB or some other data limiting charge, then you have to shut off background refresh or the background apps will consume all your data (Settings >> General >> Backgroud App Refresh), and you can do this per app or in whole (this is a good thing to do regardless, you’ll be amazed what’s happening in the background on your phone). Note that this does not do EVERTHING but it’s a start. iCloud is your next culprit and go in there and shut off those elements (for example, this could be a data killer if you icloud sync your photos and you take a bunch of pics on the boat). There are some things that just cannot be easily shut-off such as mail (especially if connected to a corporate email system) so your mileage may vary. It’s very difficult to shut off 100% of the background data usage other than shutting off Wifi (like when you are sleeping). Shutting off or disconnecting from WiFi obviously stops iMessage from functioning as well. This option has limitations and is complex and is not typically suggested if you're not comfortable with the workings of your phone.

- Put your phone in airplane mode and in the room safe and give out the ships number and room number as an emergency contact to your land-based friends and then tell them to email you with any non-urgent questions. Your cruise line will have their specific costs (and who burdens those costs) per call/per minute for the emergencies. Then when in a port, find a free WiFi location, say at a restaurant, and connect there, order a drink and an appetizer and let your phone sync for 20 minutes. You won’t get voice mails or SMS messages (no cellular) but you can read and respond to your emails which are ideally non-emergent. This is what we do on our cruises (especially with 2 teenagers who, by the first port of call, have the shakes from being disconnected).

 

Happy sailing.

 

/Jeff

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Thanks Jeff for so clearly answering the many smartphone issues while sailing.

I have never read a better explanation for all the issues involved.

 

Many thanks,

 

Bill

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Such an odd thing, we were on NCL Jewel a few weeks ago, put our phones on airplane mode, but turned on wifi to connect to the ship's wifi for use of their app. We didn't pay for the internet package or for the texting feature through the NCL app. But....we started receiving notifications from time to time, weather, CNN etc...and were able to send iMessages to people back home on a fairly regular basis. We even called the internet cafe to ensure we weren't paying for a package. They just said "ya, that happens sometimes"

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This is great and I want to save it for reference. :)

 

"texting" means so many things in today's connected world.

 

Short Message Service (SMS) is part of the cellular communications standard which allows the 140 characters of text to be sent. Since SMS is part of the cellular system, it exists, is well used today and requires an active cellular connection to function. SMS is part of the constant communications/messaging back-and-forth from your phone and the cellular tower/system.

 

With "smartphones" the vendors have devised messaging services that are vendor specific such as Blackberry messenger (BBM) and Apple iMessage. These need a DATA connection to function which is either data over cellular or data over Wifi. These messaging services like Apple to Apple iMessage have additional advanced services in the app that cannot exists via SMS, such as the little “delivered” indicator, emoji, and voice memos. As an iPhone user, in iMessage, if the message shows up in a blue balloon then it's been delivered to you using DATA from a fellow Apple iMessage user, if it's in a green balloon then the message has been sent using SMS and/or is from a non-Apple iMessage user.

 

On land, your iPhone is connected to the cellular system which also has a data connection (e.g. 3G or LTE) AND you may be connected to WiFi (work or home or library, etc.). Your phone decides how to best use these connections and is in CONSTANT communications to the various systems so that the systems know how to best find you.

 

So to your question.

Your options (and a good AT&T customer service rep should be able to answer these questions as well):

- Use cellular-only which allows for phone calls & SMS messages and pay for the roaming charges as you noted. In iPhone, Settings >> Cellular >> and set roaming to “Voice Only”. This tells your phone that when roaming (e.g. on the boat) to shut off all data. This prevents background applications like Mail or Facebook from consuming data as data is shut off. Messages will come to your phone via SMS. I do this all the time when traveling out of the US.

- IF and only IF the only people texting you are iMessage users (blue balloon) then you have an option where you can shut off cellular and pay for the ships WiFi thereby creating your data connection to the world. Put your phone in Airplane mode and then turn on Wifi and connect to the ships Wifi at whatever price they are offering it. You won’t get phone calls and you won’t get SMS messages (no cellular) but iMessage will work. WARNING: Since your “smartphone” is stupid there is no way for it to understand that you’re paying money for Wifi and all the other background data using apps will be running (e.g. mail, facebook, yelp, whatever) and consuming data – every minute of every day. If the ship is offering Unlimited data then this is a non-issue – go enjoy your cruise and gobble the data.

 

If the Ship’s WiFi is per MB or some other data limiting charge, then you have to shut off background refresh or the background apps will consume all your data (Settings >> General >> Backgroud App Refresh), and you can do this per app or in whole (this is a good thing to do regardless, you’ll be amazed what’s happening in the background on your phone). Note that this does not do EVERTHING but it’s a start. iCloud is your next culprit and go in there and shut off those elements (for example, this could be a data killer if you icloud sync your photos and you take a bunch of pics on the boat). There are some things that just cannot be easily shut-off such as mail (especially if connected to a corporate email system) so your mileage may vary. It’s very difficult to shut off 100% of the background data usage other than shutting off Wifi (like when you are sleeping). Shutting off or disconnecting from WiFi obviously stops iMessage from functioning as well. This option has limitations and is complex and is not typically suggested if you're not comfortable with the workings of your phone.

- Put your phone in airplane mode and in the room safe and give out the ships number and room number as an emergency contact to your land-based friends and then tell them to email you with any non-urgent questions. Your cruise line will have their specific costs (and who burdens those costs) per call/per minute for the emergencies. Then when in a port, find a free WiFi location, say at a restaurant, and connect there, order a drink and an appetizer and let your phone sync for 20 minutes. You won’t get voice mails or SMS messages (no cellular) but you can read and respond to your emails which are ideally non-emergent. This is what we do on our cruises (especially with 2 teenagers who, by the first port of call, have the shakes from being disconnected).

 

Happy sailing.

 

/Jeff

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If someone with an iPhone sends you a message (to your iPhone) and both have iMessaging turned on, it will try to send the message as an iMessage.

 

But if it does not go through, after a while, the phone will switch and send it as a normal text message (SMS).

 

The sender will see the message as Blue background to start, like a normal iMessage. If it does not go through, the background will switch to Green (SMS message) and there is will be a note under it saying it was sent as a text message.

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"texting" means so many things in today's connected world.

 

Short Message Service (SMS) is part of the cellular communications standard which allows the 140 characters of text to be sent. Since SMS is part of the cellular system, it exists, is well used today and requires an active cellular connection to function. SMS is part of the constant communications/messaging back-and-forth from your phone and the cellular tower/system.

 

With "smartphones" the vendors have devised messaging services that are vendor specific such as Blackberry messenger (BBM) and Apple iMessage. These need a DATA connection to function which is either data over cellular or data over Wifi. These messaging services like Apple to Apple iMessage have additional advanced services in the app that cannot exists via SMS, such as the little “delivered” indicator, emoji, and voice memos. As an iPhone user, in iMessage, if the message shows up in a blue balloon then it's been delivered to you using DATA from a fellow Apple iMessage user, if it's in a green balloon then the message has been sent using SMS and/or is from a non-Apple iMessage user.

 

On land, your iPhone is connected to the cellular system which also has a data connection (e.g. 3G or LTE) AND you may be connected to WiFi (work or home or library, etc.). Your phone decides how to best use these connections and is in CONSTANT communications to the various systems so that the systems know how to best find you.

 

So to your question.

Your options (and a good AT&T customer service rep should be able to answer these questions as well):

- Use cellular-only which allows for phone calls & SMS messages and pay for the roaming charges as you noted. In iPhone, Settings >> Cellular >> and set roaming to “Voice Only”. This tells your phone that when roaming (e.g. on the boat) to shut off all data. This prevents background applications like Mail or Facebook from consuming data as data is shut off. Messages will come to your phone via SMS. I do this all the time when traveling out of the US.

- IF and only IF the only people texting you are iMessage users (blue balloon) then you have an option where you can shut off cellular and pay for the ships WiFi thereby creating your data connection to the world. Put your phone in Airplane mode and then turn on Wifi and connect to the ships Wifi at whatever price they are offering it. You won’t get phone calls and you won’t get SMS messages (no cellular) but iMessage will work. WARNING: Since your “smartphone” is stupid there is no way for it to understand that you’re paying money for Wifi and all the other background data using apps will be running (e.g. mail, facebook, yelp, whatever) and consuming data – every minute of every day. If the ship is offering Unlimited data then this is a non-issue – go enjoy your cruise and gobble the data.

 

If the Ship’s WiFi is per MB or some other data limiting charge, then you have to shut off background refresh or the background apps will consume all your data (Settings >> General >> Backgroud App Refresh), and you can do this per app or in whole (this is a good thing to do regardless, you’ll be amazed what’s happening in the background on your phone). Note that this does not do EVERTHING but it’s a start. iCloud is your next culprit and go in there and shut off those elements (for example, this could be a data killer if you icloud sync your photos and you take a bunch of pics on the boat). There are some things that just cannot be easily shut-off such as mail (especially if connected to a corporate email system) so your mileage may vary. It’s very difficult to shut off 100% of the background data usage other than shutting off Wifi (like when you are sleeping). Shutting off or disconnecting from WiFi obviously stops iMessage from functioning as well. This option has limitations and is complex and is not typically suggested if you're not comfortable with the workings of your phone.

- Put your phone in airplane mode and in the room safe and give out the ships number and room number as an emergency contact to your land-based friends and then tell them to email you with any non-urgent questions. Your cruise line will have their specific costs (and who burdens those costs) per call/per minute for the emergencies. Then when in a port, find a free WiFi location, say at a restaurant, and connect there, order a drink and an appetizer and let your phone sync for 20 minutes. You won’t get voice mails or SMS messages (no cellular) but you can read and respond to your emails which are ideally non-emergent. This is what we do on our cruises (especially with 2 teenagers who, by the first port of call, have the shakes from being disconnected).

 

Happy sailing.

 

/Jeff

thanks for the great explanation

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I am thinking of buying an AT&T cruise ship plan which, for $100 will give me 200MB of data, free talk and text. The overage is $2 per MB. Just the update for many of my apps is over 100MB and, on my WiFi at home, can be downloaded in a few seconds. If I have hit my limit and have 5 of these apps needing updating will it cost me around $1,000?

I have an iPhone 8. How can I tell how many MBs I have used or how close I am to the 200MB limit? Two different AT&T reps said it could not be done. If I buy the AT&T international 1GB plan, how can I keep track of how close I am to both limits> Will airplane mode guarantee that I am not downloading any data? I am beginning to think phone plans based on data are not worth the risk of some hidden background app using data.

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I am thinking of buying an AT&T cruise ship plan which, for $100 will give me 200MB of data, free talk and text. The overage is $2 per MB. Just the update for many of my apps is over 100MB and, on my WiFi at home, can be downloaded in a few seconds. If I have hit my limit and have 5 of these apps needing updating will it cost me around $1,000?

I have an iPhone 8. How can I tell how many MBs I have used or how close I am to the 200MB limit? Two different AT&T reps said it could not be done. If I buy the AT&T international 1GB plan, how can I keep track of how close I am to both limits> Will airplane mode guarantee that I am not downloading any data? I am beginning to think phone plans based on data are not worth the risk of some hidden background app using data.

 

Turn off updates while on the cruise. There aren't any apps that can't wait a few days to update. A better alternative, depending on your cruise line is to simply buy an unlimited wi-fi plan. iMessage works just fine for texting that way and you don't worry about going over.

 

Be aware that your AT&T plan will probably NOT work on the ship as you have to go through the ship's tower and the ship does the charging.

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Be aware that your AT&T plan will probably NOT work on the ship as you have to go through the ship's tower and the ship does the charging.

I thought it worked the other way: That you'll be able to make calls and send TXTs but AT&T will pass-along hefty charges from the cruise line's interconnection service. Is that not the case?

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Anyone experienced in using the Garmin InReach SATFONE on the open ocean?

https://explore.garmin.com/en-US/inreach/

 

Given the easy to do requirement of open deck or balcony, this should be extremely easy.

Of course an Inmarsat subscription is required.

 

Thanks

Edited by Dive_Instr
Format correction

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I've got one and I've used it in a number of places. Water wouldn't be any different. The Inreach system uses a relatively large number of satellites, thus they can promise and deliver world-wide coverage with the exception of far north arctic and far south antarctic areas. Key is you _have_ to have a pretty good slice of open sky. If you create a message on an Inreach it will indicate that it is attempting to send and will also indicate that sending is complete. If it doesn't indicate that sending is complete, you need more open sky....

 

RAE

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