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At home I use Verizon, because it provides the best service here. But on board, I'm wondering if another carrier would be better.

 

While on the ship Verizon can only offer a pay-as-you-go plan, $2.99 a minute for voice, .50 to send a text, .05 to receive a text. They claim that this is because HAL does not allow them to offer an on-board international package. Can this be true?

 

While on shore they have the pretty standard $10 per day, or $40 per month with more or less unlimited service.

 

Do you have a carrier that offers better?

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Any time you use a phone onboard a ship at sea, either voice, data or text, you are passing through HAL's satellite data connection. They, naturally, expect you to pay for the use of their bandwidth. If you are docked in port, then you can use the international roaming plans of Verizon or other carriers. Any time you include a satellite link in your data path, the cost goes way up. So, if you can wait until you are docked to use your phone, then the international plans will be the cheapest. If you must have connectivity while at sea, then you must also expect to pay for it.

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It's not so much that I need to have continuous phone connectivity while on board, but I would like to be reachable in case of an emergency, and not have to pay $3 a minute for it!

 

I have T-Mobile, which also allows WiFi Calling (Send/Receive) and Free Data/Text over most all the world. The standard arrangement I make with those who would have to call is that the phone is generally always on when in port and if we an extended amount of Sea Days, I turn it on and connect 1 day over the ships Wifi and if they need me to call, then send me an email, as that gets checked a couple of times a day.

 

We also, look at it from the perspective of what could we do anyway in the case of an emergency. On the cruises we do, it would take several days at a minimum for us to get back home, or in the worst case scenario on our SA Cruise it could be a week or more. When we left the tip of SA heading for Antarctic, the next reasonable port we could have disembarked would have been in Montevideo over 1 week away.

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We shopped 4 major carriers to find a carrier that could provide us with text, data & voice that we could use while cruising at a reasonable price. We've been paying about $50/mth. for two lines. We were pulled kicking and screaming from flip phones to smart phones that could do things we could not do on our flip phones.

 

After 30 years with Verizon before it was even called Verizon, we changed over to T-Mobile. They offered a plan for two lines for a total of $70/mth for users that where over 55 year's old. This price required auto payment from a credit card. We got unlimited text, data and voice in Canada, USA and Mexico. Unlimited text, data and $.20/minute voice in about 210+ other countries. Also free data roaming in all countries.

 

It worked well on our last cruise in April this year. However, when we got home and got the bill there were four separate $5.95 charges on the bill. Turned out that they where voice mail message calls while on ship....yikes. I told the T-mobile rep that I know not to make any calls while out to sea due to the high costs of connection on the ships systems. He was kind enough to waive the fees.

 

So now when away from the shore we put the phones in "Air Plane" mode and turn off Mobile Data. That allows us to use the ships on board intra-net system to look at our cabin bill, the MDR menu, the NY Times and the HAL website.

 

We provided our family with all the HAL emergency phone numbers if they needed to contact us. Sadly our family had to use those numbers in 2015 when my wife's mother passed away unexpectedly back home in Oregon. The front desk allowed us unlimited calls back home while at sea, checked on us each day and also delivered a condolences flower basket to our cabin. They were great in helping us with calls home to our kids and relatives. Now, if we need to call for emergency or non-emergency calls we wait until we get to a port to use our phones.

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Thanks for those tips, I will definitely check them out.

 

My mother in law died while we were on the Voyage of the Vikings, and although the front desk very kindly let us use the ship to shore radio to phone, there was no way we could get off the ship. That has traumatized me a bit, although I have to agree, when out in the middle of the ocean there's not much that one can really do.

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