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Can you use your phone on a Cruise ship?

Traveling by seas? Use your phone on a cruise with no issues with on-board internet or an eSIM for the coastal area and live the best experience at sea.

Manuel M.

August 3, 2023

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We know that you can definitely use your phone at home, at your friend’s house, and even on the other side of the world, but can you use it on a cruise ship? It’s hardly surprising that in today’s globally interconnected world, many vacationers consider maintaining their online presence a top concern, even while at sea.

Some passengers may need or wish to stay in touch with loved ones back home or with the office while they are sailing, even though a cruise is an ideal time to relax and unwind from the stresses of modern life. Let’s go ahead and clear your doubts and help you find affordable solutions to connect to the internet while abroad.

Options for Onboard Internet Access

Enjoy the experience of overseas travel! Source: Pexel.

The cruise industry has made great efforts to provide onboard internet access, realizing the value of this amenity for today’s vacationers. When on a cruise, you can connect to the web in one of three primary ways.

Ship WiFi

First, there is the ship’s Wi-Fi, which allows guests to use their own electronic devices to access the internet while sailing. Lounges, restaurants, and select cabins are examples of public spaces that may have WiFi service. It’s important to remember that due to bandwidth constraints and other obstacles, online access on ships is sometimes slow and expensive.

Generally, the most relevant challenge is a sufficiently capable connection from the cruise to a satellite in space and back. This requires a lot of energy from the cruise and that makes it an expensive luxury. If you definitely need to use your phone while on a cruise ship, you can inquire directly with the crew about their available services.

(Traveling by air? Find out more!)

Dedicated Spaces

Some ships even feature internet cafés where guests can use computers to surf the web. Although this may be less expensive than ship-wide Wi-Fi, there may still be fees involved, and service may be spotty during busy times. Most of the time, the onboard cable connection capabilities may too slow to support videos and VoIP. Sometimes there are other services like printing available at these onboard internet cafés.

Internet Packages

Cruise lines have begun selling internet packages through satellite for passengers who need a more reliable and constant connection to the web. These plans often offer more speed and data but come at a premium price. You should definitely contact your cruise line to find out if they have any such packages and if they are suitable for your vacation plans.

Work comfortably on a cruise. Source: Pexels.

Cruise line Services

There are several cruise lines that have begun offering internet services onboard and some even for free! Find out beforehand if the cruise line that you selected offers on board internet connection to use your phone.

Carnival Cruise Line

They offer a shipwide connection for as low are $8 per day. This basic plan gets you access to just the basic social media networks. As you require more services, the fee goes up as well. For those who use the internet a lot, they may require the $17 per day package, which is the premium plan with high-speed connection and even Skype included!

When it comes to roaming services, you can use your phone with your home operator with all the regular services included. Remember that the final bill depends mostly on your operator and their rates.

Disney Cruise Line

On Disney ships you can connect to the internet for as little as $0.25 per MB. The Disney Cruise Line Navigator app can help you remain in contact with your family members. Through the app, there’s an option where you can chat with family members and companion for an additional charge. For some passengers in high-class suites, there may be free packages or complementary internet access.

Royal Caribbean International

With this cruise line, there are two packages available. The first one is a $15.99 per day per device plan that provides high-speed internet connection to connect online and check your email. The other plan costs $19.99 per day per device that includes all the services from the previous plan plus social media, video calls, movies and more! When it comes to using your phone on a cruise ship and similarly to other cruise lines, roaming is available through your domestic provider.

Maritime Cellular Service

You may worry about whether you will have cell phone service when at sea. Your cell phone should be able to connect to local networks while you are close to the shore or major ports of call. However, when the ship travels further out to sea, the availability of cellular networks will decrease dramatically.

Key considerations with cellular service at sea are as follows:

  • First, you may be subject to costly international roaming fees if your phone connects to a foreign cellular network while you are in port or near the coast. To avoid any unwelcome surprises when you receive your cellphone bill, it is imperative that you contact your service provider in advance to learn about the roaming fees and data charges that may apply. One good strategy is to turn on the airplane mode to avoid connecting to roaming networks without knowing.
  • Second, there is poor connectivity out on the broad seas; your phone may stop receiving any service at all. Because of their extensive travel away from land, cruise ships are frequently out of range of cellular networks.
  • Thirdly, satellite services are made available by some cellphone companies. However, these are normally reserved for maritime and emergency communication rather than regular consumer use. Voice and data bundles provided by satellite providers are too expensive for frequent users.

The Maritime Viability of eSIMs

There has been a rise in the use of eSIMs (embedded SIM cards) to replace physical SIM cards. Users can switch carriers without having to swap out conventional SIM cards thanks to eSIMs, which are built into compatible smartphones. The availability of partner networks and agreements determines, however, whether they can be used on a cruise ship while at sea. You can also learn more about what eSIM is.

Using eSIMs at sea

First, eSIMs can provide connectivity because cellular companies have contracts with local networks. Coverage may still be restricted to major ports and coastal areas even if a cruise company has an agreement with a carrier supporting eSIMs. Since eSIMs utilize local networks, they are restricted in the same ways that regular SIM cards are while traveling internationally.

Some eSIM service providers may offer satellite-based plans usable in inaccessible areas, like in the middle of the ocean. It is important to investigate alternatives and potential costs before committing to one of these plans because they tend to be pricey and may have limited data allowances. However, the overall benefits outweigh the regular SIM cards and even on-board plans.

Holafly Data Connection

One provider that has emerged as a global provider in international connectivity. For one flat price, you can easily download and connect to the internet. Since your cruise ship usually moves across international waters and several countries, a multicounty or regional eSIM is your best bet. Check the benefits!

  • High-speed internet and connection to the best networks
  • Keep your WhatsApp number and conversation
  • 24/7 multilingual customer service
  • Multiple payment methods available
  • Multi-destination packages, like the best eSIM plans for tourism within Asia
travel sim card unlimited data
Need to connect? Scan the code and get your data plan now! 5% Discount. Code: MYESIMNOW5

Just go to the website or the app, choose your destination or destinations, and complete the purchase. You’ll receive a QR code to activate your eSIM. While you’re close to the port or the cost, you’d most likely be able to connect to the internet with no issues! This is the perfect alternative for cruise ships that roam near the coastline. You’ll have no problem connecting and be able to use your phone while on a cruise ship.