If you’re new to cruising (or maybe it’s just been a while since you’re sailed the friendly seas), you might be wondering how you’ll stay in touch with people while you’re on your trip.
Our customer support team regularly gets questions like “Can I use my phone on a cruise?” and “How much will it cost to have data on a cruise?” and “Does eSIM work on a cruise?” so we decided it was time to put together a simple guide to using your phone on a cruise.
But first, how NOT to use your phone on a cruise …
Before we get into your options for using your phone on a cruise, we want to make sure you pay attention to one very important point. If you don’t choose one of the options below, you might accidentally end up roaming on your regular phone plan.
This is really bad idea, friend.
Roaming on your regular phone plan is exactly what it sounds like. Your phone is trying to use your regular phone plan, but you’re actually outside your regular coverage zone, so your phone will be desperately trying to keep you connected … and racking up expensive roaming fees in the process. (This is especially costly on a cruise, since it’s harder for your phone to connect to a network back on land.)
So whatever you do, please choose one of the options below ahead of your cruise. Trust us, you don’t want to come home all tanned and relaxed, only to see a staggeringly expensive cell phone bill filled with extra charges.
How to use your phone on a cruise
OPTION 1: Rely only on Wi-Fi 😒
Your cruise ship should have Wi-Fi on board, and you’ll probably be able to connect to Wi-Fi networks in shops or restaurants once you’re on land. So if you’re fine with just checking in periodically and not having a cellular data connection, you can rely on Wi-Fi for the duration of your trip. Be sure to turn Data Roaming off or disable your Primary SIM temporarily, and remember that your phone number won’t work for calling or texting until you’re back to using a data connection.
OPTION 2: Buy a carrier travel plan 🤔
Your carrier at home probably offers a travel plan for the area where you’ll be cruising, and your cruise line will likely offer their own version, too. These carrier travel plans aren’t cheap, since it’s trickier to get data out at sea. But you can talk to your carrier ahead of your vacation and see what they’ll charge for you to use your phone on a cruise, and make a decision from there. Be sure to tell them every country you’ll be visiting during the cruise (and how long you’ll be traveling), so they set you up with the appropriate plan.
OPTION 3: Use a prepaid eSIM data package 😊
No matter where you’re traveling, eSIM travel data packages are a great way to stay affordably connected in 120+ countries. Instead of relying on your regular SIM card (your carrier plan from back home), you install a digital SIM card called an ‘eSIM.’ This eSIM connects your device to local networks in the country or region you’re visiting, so you’re able to have a reliable data connection without paying roaming charges.
Your eSIM data connection won’t affect your regular phone number, so you can talk on the phone or send/receive texts while you’re on your cruise. The best part? No surprises or hidden fees. What you see is what you pay, and if you run out of eSIM data, it’s your decision whether you want to buy more.
Using an eSIM for data on a cruise
If you chose Option #3 and you’re interested in hearing more about using prepaid eSIM data on your next cruise, that’s great! Let’s walk through a few things you should know before use eSIM on a cruise …
1. Know that the connection will depend on your location.
We do our best to keep our customers connected anywhere they travel, however, we rely on data networks to maintain those connections. While eSIM data can work on cruise ships, the quality of your connection will depend on how close you are to land. That’s because eSIM data comes from cell phone towers, just like any other cellular connection, and those towers aren’t located in the middle of the ocean.
Internet connections are notoriously slow aboard a cruise ship, no matter which route you take to get data on your phone. But cruising isn’t *all* about the ship, of course. Remember that you’ll want data while you’re on land, either before/after your cruise or during various stops along the way.
2. Choose a data package for each location you want data.
eSIM data packages are sold by country, or by region. So depending on where you’re cruising, you might just need to buy a single regional package and you’ll have data in every location you visit.
If you’re going on a Caribbean cruise: Our Caribbean eSIM data package includes data in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, and Turks and Caicos. And a week’s worth of data in all 11 countries is just $20.
If you’re going on an Alaskan cruise: Our United States eSIM includes data in all 50 states (including Alaska, of course). So if you’re departing from Seattle and spending all of your trip within the United States, this might be the only package you need. If you’re departing from Vancouver (or elsewhere in Canada), it’s a better idea to shop for a North American eSIM that will work across the United States and Canada. It’s $9 for a week’s worth of data.
If you’re going on a Mediterranean cruise: Heading on a cruise that passes through France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece or Turkey? Our Mediterranean eSIM provides data in all six countries, starting at just $6.75 for a week’s worth of data.
3. Adjust your settings to conserve data.
If you want to be data-conscious and use as little data as possible while you’re traveling, use our 10 tips to conserve data while traveling and you’ll be able to get away with purchasing a smaller data package.
Please reach out to our Customer Support team if you have any questions about using your phone on a cruise, and Bon Voyage!