Cruise TipsCommunicationT-Mobile and Cruising, Unlimited Data/Texting in Port

T-Mobile and Cruising, Unlimited Data/Texting in Port

t-mobileOn a recent cruise, I was able to test out the new global service that was added by T-Mobile in late 2013.  The new service being offered gives T-Mobile customers unlimited data and text messages in over 100 foreign countries, with phone calls costing only 20 cents a minute.

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Do you know what is the best part of this new global service?  It is available to customers of T-Mobile at no additional cost.

I tested my T-Mobile Android phone in the ports of Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico.  I was able to connect to 3G data in both ports for a much faster connection that I was expecting.  While it didn’t have the speeds of 4G that I am accustomed to back home, it was fine for checking email, social media sites, and uploading a few pictures.

I did enjoy watching other cruisers walking around in port with their phones/tablets out trying to find a free wifi hotspot to connect it.  It was really nice to go anywhere I wanted in port and have access to data on my phone without paying a single penny for roaming. Since I use Google Maps a lot, it came in handy to navigate around Cozumel in my rented car.

When my phone first connected to the cell phone towers on land, I received the following text message on my phone from T-Mobile: “Welcome to Mexico. Unlimited text incl with your global coverage. Talk $ .20/min. Unlimited web included as part of your global coverage. To purchase high speed data, please visit”.  

First, this new plan does NOT apply when using the cruise ship’s cell phone towers.  Using the service provided by the cruise ship continues to cost $5.99 per minute for phone calls with free incoming text messages (if you have texting on your plan) and outgoing texts costing .50 each.  Data is also at the over-inflated price of $15 per mb.  The moment you step on the ship until the moment you step off your phone should have “data roaming” turned off.

Anytime you turn data roaming off on your phone, make sure that you are connected to a cell phone tower on land and not the ship.

In order to take advantage of free data, you must be on the Simple Choice Plan.  Prepaid accounts and accounts on the old value plans are not eligible.  If you are on one of the old value plans, switching over to the Simple Choice Plans is really easy and the prices are virtually the same.

Also, tethering your phone to a laptop or tablet is not allowed.

Most of the ports in the Caribbean are included.  However, it is worth noting that the Bahamas are not on the list.  For a complete list of what countries are included, visit  It is always good to double check the ports you will be visiting so you don’t get hit with a huge data roaming bill when you return.

If you have any questions about using T-Mobile on your next cruise, please leave a comment below.  I will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
Cruise TipsCommunicationT-Mobile and Cruising, Unlimited Data/Texting in Port


  1. When we arrive in Caymen and Mexico, I understand I can turn my phone off of airplane mode while in port with TMobile and have free text and data. Does my phone need to be out of airplane mode at that time and what about my cellular data? Will that need to be on or off to use the services while in port. I understand we need to turn it back to airplane mode when boarding the ship.
    Thank you.

  2. I have a tmobile 4g international prepaid plan . I am traveling on Norwegian sky cruise ship to the Bahamas for 4 days , please can you tell me the availability of signal and if I need to use roaming , and what costs will be incurred . Thankyou

    • If you have an international plan, you should be able to use your phone without any charges while on land. However, your plan won’t cover you while you on are on the ship. Those charges will likely remain high. Always double check with your carrier before your trip to see the exact rates.

  3. Is there anything special you have to do to take advantage of this? We will be sailing in the Western Caribbean in October.

  4. Wonder why I only had 10 MB data available to use on my cruise last week. I specifically purchased a tmobile phone and plan for travel. Texts didnt go thru either.

  5. I too have used my phone on cruises to Mexico. Cano and Puerto Vallarta and my brother was just cruising in Bali, other ports in Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore. and he could connect fine too.
    Also you can use your phone as a hot spot to connect your laptop or tablet to. It is also included. I made sure and used mine all of the time. even while on the ship and there was no extra charges. My brother and his partner did the same and I checked every day to make sure that there was not extra charges and there wasn’t. I love T-Mobile. been with them since they started. I knew there was a reason. Happy sailing!

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