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Internet, Cell Phones, & Walkie Talkies--Orchestra


annecannon

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I see from the posts that Internet service on the Orchestra is slow. Is this from their computers, via laptops using Wi-Fi, or both?

 

Is anyone using cell phones for phone service and/or internet access, and if so, what have you been charged on your phone bill? I use my handheld nonstop for internet access. We're going to Dominican Republic, St. Maarten, Antigua, & Bahamas.

 

Since I've heard cell phone charges are high, people are using walkie talkies. Has anyone done this, and if so, how did it work?

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What I do is ask my secretary to text message me if anything important comes up, and I receive the text for free. Make calls from one of the islands where it's bound to be cheaper, and only if you must. Maybe it's just me, but I find $2/minute for internet prohibitive. I'd prefer to go without than pay rates like that! ...and $4/minute for cell phone? Come on!!

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My cell phone provider (verizon) has the international long distance rates for the various ports on its website. It also has the dialing instruction for international calls - which varied between the ports. I printed this out for my travel folder.

 

As for walkie- talkies, there was another thread on CC that said there were some legal issues at which point I gave up on the idea.

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I've never used onboard internet. I go on vacation to get away from that stuff!

 

However, every report I've ever heard, from a variety of cruise lines is that onboard internet access is, at best, dial-up speed. I.E., a max of 56kbps. Most of us are used to at least DSL speeds (768kbps to 8Mbps) or cable speeds. It doesn't matter whether you use their computers or your own, via wifi in your cabin. It is the satellite uplink that is the limiting factor.

 

The best suggestion I have heard is to work in bursts: write outgoing emails as text files, logon, download incoming mail, cut-paste prewritten outbound mail into your email client and logoff. Read the mail offline and repeat the above process to reply. Whatever you do, don't sit there and read incoming emails while logged on.

 

Don't plan on sending too many digital photos back to friends and family. A single jpeg from a 10Mpixel camera can be 3Mbytes. One file can take more than an hour to upload/send. Wait and send them when you get home.

 

Some ports have cafes or other places with free wifi. Look for those when you go ashore.

 

Cell phone charges will be much, much lower ashore, as well. Check with your cell phone provider. Be careful, though. The ships are supposed to turn off their cell phone relays when in port, since they are not licensed as telephone companies. There have been some reports recently of ships NOT turning them off, even in US ports, like Miami. Passengers waiting on the pier to board the ship have reported getting huge cell phone bills, because their phone locked onto the still-active relay on the ship, rather than a land-based tower.

 

When we sail, the cell phones are turned off, except when we go ashore. If your phone is turned on in your cabin and someone calls you, even if you do not answer, you may be charged.

 

Paul Noble

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Everyone should realize that they spent alot of money already on a cruise with the goal in mind to enjoy themselves. Why worry about a few extra dollars....If you can not afford an extra $100 or so dollars then you should be staying home

 

Can not wait till April!

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What I do is ask my secretary to text message me if anything important comes up, and I receive the text for free. Make calls from one of the islands where it's bound to be cheaper, and only if you must. Maybe it's just me, but I find $2/minute for internet prohibitive. I'd prefer to go without than pay rates like that! ...and $4/minute for cell phone? Come on!!

 

Thanks for the reply. So your secretary sends a text message to your phone and it doesn't cost anything? I have a blackberry.

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I understand that with most cell phone carriers you receive text messages for free. You may have to pay for the ones you send from your phone. While travelling it may cost 50 cents or so per text message sent. Ask your cell phone company about it!

 

Regarding the comment regarding who cares about an extra $100, I guess I do. But if people share your attitude the economy should be bouncing back in no time. :)

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Rumball,

 

Thanks for your note. I agree $100 is a lot unless people are writing it off as a business expense.

 

I have a deal for you. I notice you're on the 3/14 cruise. We're going on 3/28. If you--OR OTHER PEOPLE READING THIS--get the Internet package, please log on to cruisecritic.com and let me know how the excursions are and if anyone likes/dislikes the snorkeling equipment offered through the MSC excursion people. Any other info is most welcome. What's in this for you? Not much except my gratitude!

 

Thanks, and good luck on the cruise!

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anne,

 

while I am usually willing to share my thoughts and experiences in the interest of giving back to the many helpful posters on this forum, and a good deal is hard to pass up, I can't say the deal you are offering is a deal at all.:)

 

we are bringing our own snorkelling gear (X4). it takes up half a suitcase but we have the room. i plan to use it at stingray city in the caymans, at chankanaab park in cozumel, and perhaps in cayo levantado, st maarten and/or antigua. i won't bother in key west or nassau though (the water will be too cold). And as nice as it is to hear from people on the cruiseship logging onto cruisecritic, I hope I'll be having too much fun to bother before I get home.:D

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For those traveling the Orchestra Western Caribbean route, this may be helpful. While these rates apply to T-Mobile customers, I would guess other wireless carriers are probably similar.

 

$1.49/min - St. John's

 

$1.49/min - St. Marteen

 

$1.49/min - Cayo Levantado

 

$2.99/min - Nassau

 

$4.99/min - Onboard The Orchestra

 

$0.35/min - Text Messages

 

To check your voice messages, call T-Mobile International Customer Care at (505) 998-3793.

 

Your phone must carry an 850 or 1900 frequency in order to operate.

Do not leave your phone "On". You "WILL" be charged for every incoming call, regardless of whether you answer the phone or not.

 

Once the ship leaves international waters, they are supposed to turn off their satellites. If they don't and you make a call, chances are the ship's satellites will pick up your signal, consequently, sticking you with the $4.99/min ship rate.

 

I hope this helps!

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