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milepig

Onstar cell system BEWARE

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WS is using a cellphone network called Onstar on its ships. The info is buried in the online FAQ but is nowhere on board where you'd expect it like in the WIFI section of the daily newsletter. Nor is there any warning before you connect. If you board and leave data services "on" on your phone HUGE charges will ensue.

 

I just always leave data on since I'm T-Mobile Simple Choice Global coverage which means I don't pay for data except in a few countries and I now know on cruise ships.

 

Just this week on the Surf I boarded, dumped the phone in the cabin and before I knew it my phone picked up onwave which I didn't know existed. There was no acceptance step or warning about charges, it just picked it up. Before I knew it I was billed for over $350 in data charges. I was lucky, another pax had $1,500!!!

 

The irony is the sevice never worked well enough to actually download any complete file or message.

 

So, always turn off your data except when in port!!

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Is it possible that the charges occured because all you apps downloaded updates while onboard? I guess you can also leave your phone on airplane mode.

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A

Were the charges on your onboard account? If so, did Windstar apologize and remove the charges?

 

No. The charges were from my carrier. The people at WS reception desk first claimed no knowledge of Onwaves and later described it as a system for the crew. I first noticed on my top bar that my carrier had changed from Telnor to Onwaves (but that's not unusual, carriers change all the time when traveling) and then shortly thereafter I got a "your paying for lots of data" message from Tmob. They say they'll remove the charges from my bill.

 

I am careful, and was still completely blindsided by this extraordinarily expensive system with no on board disclaimer or notification. So - the best advice is to flip into airline mode the second you leave port and then leave it there until your next arrival. Too bad that WS has an actual cell system that is too expensive and too slow to actually use!

 

The odd thing for me is this is our fourth cruise with WS this year and the phones have never before roamed to Onwaves.

Edited by milepig

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This is normal on any cruise ship. If you leave your data services on then it will automatically connect to the service that connects via satellite back to your provider. It is expensive.

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This is normal on any cruise ship. If you leave your data services on then it will automatically connect to the service that connects via satellite back to your provider. It is expensive.

 

Yes, but I still lay some blame on WS for not even mentioning its existence in the boarding documentation or during the first onboard talk where they hawk their WIFI, and for not training reception to know about it.

 

BTW I had a typo in the subject line. The service is Onwaves

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I don't think Windstar should be responsible for making sure each and every person understands the obvious. When you go outside your carrier and their partners, you will pay roaming charges. It's no different than using an ATM in each port and then complaining you got hit with $300 in foreign ATM and foreign transaction fees.

 

I turn my data off when onboard and only use WiFi. I pretty much thought everyone knew to do this.

Edited by ducklite

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It happened to me in another cruiseline. Put my phone which was off in the safe. Never turned it on until I was in the USA. Was I shocked when I got my ATT bill. aTT removed the charges. Keep it in airplane mode and off on the ship.

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It happened to me in another cruiseline. Put my phone which was off in the safe. Never turned it on until I was in the USA. Was I shocked when I got my ATT bill. aTT removed the charges. Keep it in airplane mode and off on the ship.

 

 

I'm not sure how this was possible. A phone which is turned off can not be found by any service and can not download anything.

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It still seems to me that WS should at least mention the existence of onwaves in the same place they promote their internet options. I'd think they'd want to trumpet it along the lines of "For your convenience, Windstar is pleased to offer cell service while offshore. The provider will appear on your device as Onwaves. This service is not billed by Windstar, and charges will be made to your cell phone account through Onwaves, and will vary by provider and plan. If you have questions about usage rates you should check with your provider."

 

On the up side, through all this I did discover that T-Mobile has a setting under Profile where you can choose to disallow access from providers not included in their Global Simple Choice plan. T-Mobile calls them "countries" but I'm assuming it means any provider not included under their plan.

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