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Phone Use At Sea


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Posted (edited)

Refresh my memory, please.  Back, way back, in 2019 and for years before as well, we used to cruise frequently.  My vague recollection is that my DH purchased some sort of international data plan from AT& T so we could get emergency calls from home.  I think I remembered that the plan only worked in port…not when sailing under Cellular At Sea.  So I guess he used to put his phone on airplane mode when the ship sailed…and turn it back on when in port.  Am I remembering correctly?  What do people 

do phone-wise when all we want is to be able to have the alarm monitoring company and our pet sitter be able to reach us?  It seems like the data plan would only allow them to call us when we were in port…

 

Help!!  I totally forgot what we used to do.  I guess I was really successful at stopping myself from thinking about cruises during covid lock down…

Edited by helen haywood
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Posted (edited)

I've used cellular at sea before. The calling rates aren't bad, only the data rates are horrendous. You can do a call and text plan only without data. With AT&T, it is a $50 one-time, flat rate for 30 days with unlimited texting and 50 minutes of calling. In my view, $50 is worth the peace of mind. In port, my plan with AT&T has the international day pass where for $10/day ($5/day for any additional lines on the same plan) you get to use your phone the same that you would back home, including unlimited data if your plan has it. 

 

Slightly related but not helpful because I can't explain it: on the Edge a few weeks ago, my mom got phone calls from both the alarm company and pet sitter (everything was okay) while we were at sea. She talked with them too and never had a bad connection. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how this could have happened because she was in airplane mode with wifi on, but cellular off. The only possible explanation is WiFi calling (but no special app was used) since the pet sitter and my mom had an iPhone but I doubt that was the case for the alarm company. 

Edited by AbbyCruiser45
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5 minutes ago, AbbyCruiser45 said:

Slightly related but not helpful because I can't explain it: on the Edge a few weeks ago, my mom got phone calls from both the alarm company and pet sitter (everything was okay) while we were at sea. She talked with them too and never had a bad connection. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how this could have happened because she was in airplane mode with wifi on, but cellular off. The only possible explanation is WiFi calling (but no special app was used) since the pet sitter and my mom had an iPhone but I doubt that was the case for the alarm company. 

It is WiFi calling.   So OP doesn't need any carrier plan if he has Celebrity internet plan and he just turn on his smartphone's WiFi calling.   Incoming calls would be free.  However, outgoing calls could subject to carrier's long distance charges.   I would use Google Voice app to make outgoing calls as it has really good international rate (much much lower than cell carrier's long distance rate).

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30 minutes ago, lostchild said:

It is WiFi calling.   So OP doesn't need any carrier plan if he has Celebrity internet plan and he just turn on his smartphone's WiFi calling.   Incoming calls would be free.  However, outgoing calls could subject to carrier's long distance charges.   I would use Google Voice app to make outgoing calls as it has really good international rate (much much lower than cell carrier's long distance rate).

Interesting! Thank you for explaining that. I'd like to think I'm pretty good with tech but I've never heard of that outside an app like Google Voice. 

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As a side note... being Elite..we get 90 minutes of internet... so I usually check email halfway through the cruise and then again near the end... I tell people the days I will be checking. I also give my pet sitter some gift cards for the vet should something happen while we are gone... Assuming nothing happens the sitter gets the gift cards for their use when we get home... but this way she at least has some funds to deal with an emergency should one happen.

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WiFi calling calls are generally billed to you like they would be under your regular plan, e.g., if it's a call to/from a U.S. number, those have no charge (assuming you're a U.S. customer).  This is carrier dependent & I think AT&T is one of the worst companies for customer-friendly policies, so do check with them if you're interested to make sure there are no surprises. 

 

You can test how to use the feature while you're still at home by turning off cellular and connecting only to WiFi.  This assumes you have a phone that supports WiFi calling & you have it turned on in the settings.  Not all phones support WiFi calling and not all carriers support all phones that allow WiFi calling.  It's a great feature.  Like carrying your phone around at home, really.

 

This of course only works while you're connected to WiFi, so if you need to use your phone off the ship, there are other considerations in which your carrier's plan may be better for you.  That may be why your husband has taken the route he has in the past.  AT&T does offer packages that are specific to cruise ships, too.

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1 hour ago, AbbyCruiser45 said:

Interesting! Thank you for explaining that. I'd like to think I'm pretty good with tech but I've never heard of that outside an app like Google Voice. 

Google Voice is great as it can also turn your tablet into a phone to make free calls to any US numbers.  I have T-mobile and I think if I am to make a call to Italy using T-mobile, it would be $3/min.   Using Google Voice app, it is $0.01/min to landline and $0.22/min to mobile.

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23 hours ago, lostchild said:

It is WiFi calling.   So OP doesn't need any carrier plan if he has Celebrity internet plan and he just turn on his smartphone's WiFi calling.   Incoming calls would be free.  However, outgoing calls could subject to carrier's long distance charges.   I would use Google Voice app to make outgoing calls as it has really good international rate (much much lower than cell carrier's long distance rate).

Agreed!

 

With wifi calling, our DD was able to reach us just as if she was calling us from her bedroom.   And Google voice is a must for international calling!  

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