Cruise NewsCruise Passenger Blames Carnival for $470 Phone Bill, Sparking Debate

Cruise Passenger Blames Carnival for $470 Phone Bill, Sparking Debate

John Heald brought up the story on his Facebook page, triggering over 5,000 responses.

There’s a lot to do on cruise embarkation day.  But one passenger found out that not doing something led to an expensive bill after arriving back home.

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Image of person holding a smart phone with pool and loungers in background
Photo 190980740 © Panupong Mongkootkharn |

A recent Carnival Cruise Line passenger is making waves online after sharing a pricey post-cruise phone bill.  But the real spark in the debate came from the comment which blamed Carnival for not warning about potential phone charges.

The passenger, whose question appeared on Carnival Ambassador John Heald’s Facebook page, claims they received a $470 bill after the phone was used to play games during the cruise.

“$470 worth of charges from my cruise”

The passenger stated, “Just got my monthly cell phone charges through and there are $470 worth of charges from my cruise on Carnival cruises Freedom.”

Apparently, the passenger never put their phone into airplane mode.  Later someone told them to center the blame on the cruise line.

“Someone told me that the cruise line should be responsible because nobody told us that we should have the phone in airplane mode or off. All he did was play games on the phone”, they stated.

The upset passenger went on to criticize the cruise line for “being covert” about the pricing structure and not providing clear warnings about the potential for such high charges claiming,

Nowhere on the ship does Carnival highlight that there will be extremely high prices for using data at sea and EXACTLY what that cost is. The reason for this is that no one will use the service.

While Heald confirmed that Carnival does not receive any portion of the roaming charges, he acknowledged the possibility of improved communication.

I do want to ask those reading this if you think we can do a better job in letting people know about this kind of thing or is it something you are mostly aware of?” he wrote, sparking a heated debate in the comments section.

Related: 10 most overlooked cruise expenses and how to avoid them

cell phone in sand at beach
Cell phone charges can add up quickly on a cruise if you’re not in airplane mode.

Comments from the crowd

The vast majority of the 5,600 comments sided with the cruise line, placing the responsibility on passengers to be aware of roaming charges and take precautions. Several mentioned downloading the official Carnival Hub app beforehand or purchasing onboard Wi-Fi packages.

One user commented, “Our cruise director said airplane mode throughout our WHOLE cruise. Even the hub app tells you to put it on airplane mode. Even in some of my cruise documents it said something about airplane mode.

Another Facebook user sympathized with passengers new to cruising, stating, “For a first time cruiser, this can be quite a shock! Perhaps some sort of note in the room would be helpful. I agree with others that you don’t always hear announcements. However, it still comes down to the responsibility of each person to understand their own cell phone. Carnival is not making any money from the cell phone companies and of course is not going to reimburse this person. Sometimes you have to learn things the hard way!

It’s important to remember that using your phone at on a cruise is very different from using it on land, as cruise ships often rely on satellite networks for connectivity.

These satellite connections can lead to significantly higher roaming charges, so it’s always a good idea to check your carrier’s plan and consider alternative options like onboard Wi-Fi packages before cruising.

While most major carriers do offer some form of international coverage, these plans aren’t as cheap as cruise ship Wi-Fi in most cases. Additionally, some carriers, like T-Mobile, provide proactive warnings when entering areas with high roaming costs.

Read more:  Comparison of cell phone plans at sea with Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T

Ultimately, passengers are responsible for managing their phone usage and any related charges while cruising.

How you can avoid a massive phone bill from your cruise

So, what can travelers do to avoid a similar post-cruise shock? Here are some tips:

  • Check your carrier’s roaming policies and rates before setting sail. Some carriers offer special packages or deals for international travel.
  • Download content beforehand for offline entertainment. Movies, music, and ebooks can keep you occupied without racking up data charges.
  • Purchase onboard Wi-Fi packages, especially if you need to stay connected for work or social media.
  • Enable airplane mode on your phone when not actively using Wi-Fi. This will prevent your phone from inadvertently connecting to expensive satellite networks.

Read more: 5 most overlooked cruise costs most first-time cruisers miss

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J. Souza
J. Souza
Jon is the co-founder of Cruise Fever and has been on 50+ cruises since his first in 2009. As an editor, 15-year writer on the cruise industry, and avid cruise enthusiast he has sailed with at least 10 cruise lines and is always looking for a great cruise deal. Jon lives in North Carolina and can be reached at [email protected].
Cruise NewsCruise Passenger Blames Carnival for $470 Phone Bill, Sparking Debate

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