Prepaid Cell Phone for Ship Use

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#1
Georgia
26 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
My husband and I will be sailing to Alaska from Seattle on the Golden Princess this summer. After doing some research on this forum about using your cell phone on the ship and calling our provider (Verizon), I have learned that while on the ship you must use the ship's cell tower and you will be charged $2.49 per minute. Ouch!! Does anyone know how a prepaid phone would work? I'm not very familiar with prepaid services, but if you pay for a certain amount of minutes beforehand, would you still be able to use those minutes while on the ship using their tower? We will also have our regular cell phones to use when we are in port and away from the ship, but there will be alot of time when we are on the ship and are just not comfortable not being in contact with home on a regular basis. Has anyone else ever had any experience with a prepaid phone on a cruise ship? Thanks for any advice.
#2
1,797 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
My guess is that it still uses the ship's tower, so it would still cost $, but I could be wrong *shrug*

I have StraightTalk prepaid, which uses Verizon's towers....there is no Verizon tower on, or anywhere near the ship at sea, so I am almost 100% sure that a person would be charged the $2.49 to use their phone on the ship.
#3
Greenville, SC, USA
51,475 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
Why not just leave the number for the ship with family. Tell them to just use it in an emergency. It is expensive, but since they most likely will not use it, it will probably be cheaper than your calls from the ship
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Paul
#4
Georgia
26 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
So how would I be billed? There is no billing for a prepaid phone, you just lose service after you use up your minutes and then have to add more through a prepaid card or your credit card. Would they bill me to my on board account? If so, how would they know which phone was mine?
#5
more or less in TX
10,418 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Actually most ships won't let a prepaid phone work at all as they got ripped off by not getting their $2.49 a minute for their Cellular at Sea. You can use your prepaid phone in the ports until your minutes run out, but not on the ship.
#7
Arizona/Missouri
14,848 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
Originally posted by esprewell
So how would I be billed? There is no billing for a prepaid phone, you just lose service after you use up your minutes and then have to add more through a prepaid card or your credit card. Would they bill me to my on board account? If so, how would they know which phone was mine?
Trac Phone, the largest prepaid cell company in the world, has effectively put a stop to "third party billing" (which is what the ship's billing, 900 numbers, game sites, etc. are). They were getting RIPPED for a lot of money. And Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world, didn't get rich being a fool. Third party providers have become very, very cautious as Trac Phone billed THEM back. They had no way to recoup the money, particularly from Trac Phones that are sold at places like WalMart, Radio Shack, etc. etc.

Buy a prepaid cell from one of the common wireless providers in the USA (Verizon, Sprint, etc) and they will just bill YOU back.

As PennyAgain posted, the ship towers have blocked MOST prepaid cell calls (its all in the SIM card and technology). WMS (Wireless Maritime Services), parent company of Cellular at Sea, was one of those billed back by TracPhone for 100's of thousands of dollars (the actual amount was never disclosed-it was a "settlement").

Either pay the $2.49 to call home from the ship or just wait until you reach a port where your US cell phone should work for free (unlimited plan)
#8
Pismo Beach, CA
1,705 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
I have a prepaid phone and I've never been able to get it to work on a cruise ship. Also, it won't work in Canada or when in Canadian waters.
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#9
Georgia
26 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Thanks to all of you for the information. We will be leaving two young adult daughters, a farm, and a couple of other businesses for a whole week, so not using our phones on the ship is just not an option for us. It looks like we will just have to budget into our trip the cost of calls made from the ship back home to check on things for the days we are at sea.
#10
Miami, Palm Beach, and Ironshores, Jamaica
3,196 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
I'm with you..back in the day when we didn't have cell phones, etc..people left sick love ones, businesses, farms, and everything else behind and just dealt with it. I'm not knocking what the OP is doing, but in some ways if we don't have techonlogy some people think its the end of the world.

Originally posted by paul929207
Why not just leave the number for the ship with family. Tell them to just use it in an emergency. It is expensive, but since they most likely will not use it, it will probably be cheaper than your calls from the ship
#11
Lafayette, IN
10,319 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
Generally those prepaids do not allow roaming, let alone international roaming, which is what you'd need for the ship and most parts. You might be able to ask crew members about the best deals in port for calling back (free wifi with a laptop, phone cards, etc). There will also be email available onboard ... it is pricey, but much cheaper than calling.
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#12
Virginia
1,437 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Why not use email? While still not cheap, it is a LOT cheaper than phoning. That's what we do and have never had an issue. When traveling in Europe I rent a global phone and never pay more than 89 cents per minute, usually much less.

Your only worry time is when in Canada and sea days, which for an Alaska cruise are not that many. Most cruise lines sell internet packages that can put the cost down as low as 55 cents per minute. If you have a laptop with you, compose your email offline, logon, send, then logoff. That saves a lot of internet time. Doing it that way a 100 minute package should be more than enough for a 7 day Alaska cruise.

Cheers,
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#13
Houston, TX
2,401 Posts
Joined May 2004
Originally posted by sk8teacher
Why not use email? While still not cheap, it is a LOT cheaper than phoning. That's what we do and have never had an issue. When traveling in Europe I rent a global phone and never pay more than 89 cents per minute, usually much less. Your only worry time is when in Canada and sea days, which for an Alaska cruise are not that many. Most cruise lines sell internet packages that can put the cost down as low as 55 cents per minute. If you have a laptop with you, compose your email offline, logon, send, then logoff. That saves a lot of internet time. Doing it that way a 100 minute package should be more than enough for a 7 day Alaska cruise. Cheers,
There you go ... exactly what we do! We're Realtors (albeit semi-retired, thankfully) and must keep in touch with home base. We compose our e-mails on Word, copy them, log on, then paste them into Outlook. The 100-minute package is $55, and you should be able to pick up the wi-fi signal in your stateroom. It's not the speediest of connections, since it bounces off a satellite ... but it's not dial-up either. Reminder ... Alaska is in the US, so your cell phone plan (prepaid or not) should include it. We actually completed a deal in Ketchikan, while watching a pod of orcas do its thing ... unforgettable!