Most people go on cruises to disconnect for a while. Even the thought of bringing a smart phone conjures up thoughts of deadlines, meetings, and schedules for some. But for those who just can’t leave those little screens behind, there are ways to make sure they don’t ruin your cruise experience.
Ruin or Enhance?
Ruin: International Roaming Fees
Cell phone bills are high enough, but you if you don’t want any surprises at the end of your trip you had better turn off international roaming. Charges can be as high as $2.50/minute and $0.50 per text. Data charges can be as high as $20 per meg. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather put that money into a savory steak at a specialty restaurant. Check out cell phone rates from major carriers here.
Enhance: Connecting at Sea
So you still want to upload photos and keep in touch with friends and family while on your trip right? Even if it is just to rub it in. Every major cruise line offers internet packages that charge based on each minute day. Charges usually range from about $0.50 to $0.75 per minute for pay as you go. Some lines offer unlimited packages as well. Speeds will vary by ship and location but new technology is allowing more ships to offer high-speeds in the Caribbean. Soon it will be just as easy and fast connecting at sea as it is at home.
Some networks like T-mobile offer great plans for using your phone in the Caribbean and Bahamas. T-mobile offers unlimited data and texting and low rates for calls (and no we don’t get any kickbacks for saying so). Just make sure you’re using local towers. Check with your network before you travel so you know the rates.
Ruin: Forgetting You Are Still Logged in
This has happened to me more than once. You log in with your phone to check your email using the ship’s WiFi and forget to log out. If you paid for a set package this can use up all your remaining minutes. Most of the time you can type logout.com into the browser window to logout but don’t forget to end your session instead of just closing your screen.
Enhance: Connect to WiFi in Port
You may notice a certain phenomenon when you get off the ship at any given port. Many of the cruise ship staff will be on their phones tying in to the local WiFi networks at nearby coffee shops and restaurants. Some of these are free, but even the ones you have to pay for are much cheaper and faster than what you will get on the ship. Use this opportunity to check on the dog, send your tweets, and share that iconic photo. You can also use apps like Skype to check in on loved ones back home.
Ruin: FOMO and Stress
That Fear Of Missing Out on what’s going on with social media or the news could keep you from enjoying a much needed vacation. And having slow, inconsistent connection speeds can add to your stress. Most of us just need to unplug and hop in the hot tub. All the worries of the world can wait for you back at home port.
Enhance: Using Ship’s Onboard Internet to Keep Up
Even if you don’t pay for a WiFi package on the ship you will have access to a ton of information. Most cruise lines allow you to check out the daily schedule, itinerary, excursions, deck plans and other useful data without costing you a penny. All you have to do is open a browser on your phone or some lines have an app.
Ruin: Power Consumption and Extra Gear
Unless your phone is in airplane mode your battery will run dry pretty fast. You will have to bring a charger (with limited outlets in your cabin) and some like to bring an extra battery or two. While this won’t really “ruin” your vacation, I know how annoying it can be when you want to take a single picture and your battery is on 2%. As a blogger I’m usually the guy on the ship taking pictures with both his smart phone and DSLR camera so I know how annoying it is to try to relax with all this stuff. All you should need to carry around the ship is your ship card and a whimsical attitude. Feel free to leave that selfie-stick in the garage if carrying more gear will add to your stress.
So after that rant on using your phone as a camera — here’s a reason to use your phone as a camera. Everywhere you go on your cruise you are going to wish you had a picture of where you were. And with cameras on cell phones getting better all the time and being easier to share than ever, it just makes sense. Just make sure you get a waterproof case if you want to use it while snorkeling or checking out the amazing reefs of the Caribbean. Not every phone can survive having champagne poured on it like in the commercial.
Enhance: Travel Apps
I just love travel apps. Especially ones you can use on a cruise ship while offline. There are apps that let you read reviews on the ship, check out deck plans, book excursions, and even translate foreign languages for you, making your travel experience a smoother one.
Click Here to see some of our favorite travel apps for cruising.
Ruin: Taking Every Call and Talking Loudly
While this one might not ruin the cruise for you, it might get on the nerves of other passengers. Nothing worse than finally getting an open lounger to relax in the sun only to be disturbed by an annoying ringtone and loud conversation from the guy next to you.
It’s all up to you really. Your phone is a powerful too that can be used for good or for the destruction of your vacation. Too dramatic? Possibly.
Got any more tips for using your cell phone on a cruise or just feel like ripping me a new one for something I said? Let me know in the comments below.