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ghstudio

Need suggestion on Cellphone SIM that will work inexpensively: Italy, France, Spain

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We will be spending a week in Italy, then joining a TA to the US. I would like to have phone coverage while in Italy...and, if possible, during the port days in the other countries. There are so many options....and no web site that's clear on which work where....and then when you find one, the cost is crazy. I thought I found a great one...GiffGaff which is UK based, but they require you to use your phone in the UK (or have a UK address) before they will turn on EU roaming....so that doesn't work.

 

I use Verizon in the US but I have an unlocked worldphone...will work in the EU on GSM/LTE...so that's one obstacle I don't have to deal with

 

My minimal needs:

 

100 min or talk time- all calls within the EU

100 msgs (may be to/from US)

500MB data (don't need tethering)

must work in all the countries mentioned for at least 1 month.

SIM should not cost over 15 euros. The GiffGaff SIM would have cost 7.50 Euros and exceeded my requirements.

 

I do use skype, but I want standard GSM capability so a data only SIM won't meet my needs.

 

Looking for recommendations....

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Looking for recommendations....

 

If one of your phones is compatible with Google's Project Fi, I'd highly recommend it even if you only use it as your temporary phone service while traveling abroad. (just remember to activate it before leaving!)

After years of juggling SIM cards for various countries followed by years of trying various carriers' international plans, I "discovered" Project Fi a couple of years ago. Wow. It's cheap and works just about all of the world, and everywhere you're going, absolutely seamlessly. In May i spent a week in Italy and an 11 nigther Western Med in Spain, France and Italy, on the phone pretty constantly for data and more than a few voice calls and the bill was $60 for the month.

 

Even if your phone is not listed as being compatible, I've been told that folks have found that other phones work, and you can get the SIM card for free.

If i spouted on any further this would start to seem like an ad so i'll stop. happy to answer any additional questions though.

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We will be spending a week in Italy, then joining a TA to the US. I would like to have phone coverage while in Italy...and, if possible, during the port days in the other countries. There are so many options....and no web site that's clear on which work where....and then when you find one, the cost is crazy. I thought I found a great one...GiffGaff which is UK based, but they require you to use your phone in the UK (or have a UK address) before they will turn on EU roaming....so that doesn't work.

 

I use Verizon in the US but I have an unlocked worldphone...will work in the EU on GSM/LTE...so that's one obstacle I don't have to deal with

 

My minimal needs:

 

100 min or talk time- all calls within the EU

100 msgs (may be to/from US)

500MB data (don't need tethering)

must work in all the countries mentioned for at least 1 month.

SIM should not cost over 15 euros. The GiffGaff SIM would have cost 7.50 Euros and exceeded my requirements.

 

I do use skype, but I want standard GSM capability so a data only SIM won't meet my needs.

 

Looking for recommendations....

 

GHStudio: I have been researching the same issue for your three countries on my ocean cruise, and then a few additional countries on my following river cruise. We will be gone for around 29 days, so ideally I am also looking for a 30 day Sim. My phone is an unlocked AT&T phone.

 

First, I understand that under recent legislation in the EU, any EU based Sim Card is now supposed to work in any other EU country without roaming charges. It sounds as if the problem with your UK based card is that it is clearly designed for locals, not tourists, which is why they require a UK address.

 

I have not found any perfect answers for you, and all of them are more expensive than what you are looking for. Here is what I posted on another thread a few weeks ago:

 

What I have found so far:

 

Tim for Visitors

 

30 Euros (35 at FCO), 4 GB data, 100 minutes talk, Good for 30 days

 

Orange Holiday

 

$50 Amazon, 10 GB data, 120 minutes talk, Good for 14 days*

*can buy top-up for additional 14 days for 10 Euros or 20 Euros

 

Reviews on TIM for Visitors are quite mixed. Orange Holiday seems better except (in my case) for the need to buy a second 14 day period (just seems like another point at which something can go wrong). I am also exploring other sources such as www.cellularabroad.com and www.telestial.com. I still have time so I can fool around with this for awhile.

I know someone currently using the Orange Holiday card on a river cruise, so I am looking forward to getting his input when he returns and then I need to buy something.

 

Feel free to contact me here if you want to share info as we discover better answers.

 

Tom & Judy

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Our cellphone provider (t-mobile) provides free data in most other counties. International texts are free. If we MUST make a phone call, we use WhatsApp or find a Wi-Fi connection.

 

I haven't bought a SIM card in 10 years.

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Our cellphone provider (t-mobile) provides free data in most other counties. International texts are free. If we MUST make a phone call, we use WhatsApp or find a Wi-Fi connection.

 

I haven't bought a SIM card in 10 years.

I used tmobile for quite sometime. On our May West Med sailing my friend with T-mobile discovered, as I had a bit earlier, that they now block standard wi-fi calling ( or charge a rather hefty fee). He's now been a Project Fi-er since early summer. Interestingly enough T-mobile a part of the Project Fi network.

 

I dropped WhatsApp when FB bought them. Personal thing there, but otherwise very useful indeed.

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I used a Vodafone Netherlands SIM (available on eBay) when we traveled throughout Europe. Sim was $15 I think and the packages were super cheap and came with a lot. The $15 SIM card also came with €5 credit I think.

 

Some info here which I used to get mine all set up. https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tech-tips/dutch-vodafone-sim-card-for-use-in-europe

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Before doing anything else, have you called Verizon to ask about phone use where you will be? A friend uses Verizon and was able to add an international plan for a nominal fee that included internet and texting, plus charged a reasonable amount per minute if using voice calling.

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If you buy a SIM in Italy the calls and data will not be any more expensive to use it in any other EU country. It’s an EU ruling which came into force last year.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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You need to call Verizon. We only needed Spain but could get more. No sim card needed.

Here is their email about the service.

 

Thanks for contacting us about your trip.

 

Below you'll find device information, plan options and dialing information.

About Your Apple iPhone 5S

Your device will work in Spain.

 

However, you must check the device settings for use outside the U.S.


  • Go to Settings > Cellular (Cellular Data must be On) > Cellular Data Options > Roaming

    • Switch Voice Roaming On (green) and Data Roaming On (green). Voice or Data can be turned Off (white) if needed.

    [*]Turn International CDMA Off (white).

    [*]Power the device off and then back on after any changes OR when entering a country/cruise ship.

Messaging notes


  • If sending messages to other Apple devices and iMessage is enabled, messages are billed as data.
  • If you receive Message Delivery Failed errors, enable Send as SMS in Message settings.

More info


  • To turn off ALL cellular network service, switch Airplane Mode On (green) in Settings. You can still use Wi-Fi with this option.
  • If you use Wi-Fi, we recommend disabling Wi-Fi Assist in Settings > Cellular. Scroll down to see this option. This applies to iOS 9 and above.
  • To check voicemail if Visual Voicemail isn't available, set up a PIN. Log in to My Verizon, select My Devices, then Manage Voicemail Password.

Plan Options Here are some possible plans. This email is not a confirmation that a plan has been added or is available to this specific mobile number.

TravelPass uses your domestic plan allowances for a daily fee


  • TravelPass is not available in Azamara Quest

Per line/day

Available Countries

Allowance

$10

Uses Domestic Talk, Message, and Data


  • A 24 hour session starts when you place or answer a call, send a text or use data in a TravelPass country.

    • This includes background data and automatic updates. Incoming texts do NOT start a session.

    [*]If you don’t use service, you won't be charged the daily fee.

    [*]When ½ GB of data is used in one TravelPass session, the data speed will be reduced. Speed will resume with the next session.

    [*]No need to remove TravelPass when you return. It doesn't bill in the US.

    [*]Calls to numbers within the TravelPass country and calls to US numbers are covered by your domestic plan.

Monthly Pricing talk, text & data or data only allowance for a monthly fee


  • These bundles are available in Spain
  • No data service in Azamara Quest
  • These bundles are not available in Azamara Quest

Per line/mo

Allowance

Overage

$40

Talk: 100 min, Text: 100 sent msg / unlimited incoming msg, Data: 100 MB

$.25/min, $.25/msg, $25/100MB

$85

Talk: 250 min, Text: 250 sent msg / unlimited incoming msg, Data: 250 MB

$.25/min, $.25/msg, $25/100MB

$25

Data: 100 MB, Talk: Pay As You Go, Text: Pay As You Go

$25/100MB

$50

Data: 250 MB, Talk: Pay As You Go, Text: Pay As You Go

$25/100MB


  • Minutes on Monthly Pricing include airtime, roaming, long distance, surcharges and taxes.

Pay As You Go Rates

Talk Rates Per Min

Text Sent / Received

Multimedia Msg

Data Rates

To/From US, CA, MX, PR mobile numbers

To/From mobile numbers of other countries

Pay As You Go (No Allowance)

$1.79

$0.50 / $0.05

Per Your Domestic Plan

$0.50 / $0.25

$2.05/MB ($0.002/KB)

Azamara Quest

$2.99

$0.50 / $0.05

No Service

No Service

No Service


  • Usage on Cruise Ships is billed at Pay As You Go Rates.
  • If no International plan is added, usage will be billed at Pay As You Go rates.
  • Calls to numbers within the destination country and calls to US numbers are allowed without any International Travel Plan. Pay As You Go rates apply.

Voice and Messaging


  • Important: Multimedia (Picture and Video) Messaging incurs international data usage based on the size of the attachment.
  • You’re charged per message/per address. (If one message is sent to 3 people, you’re charged for 3 messages.)
  • International Talk rates apply when checking Voicemail. For Visual Voicemail, only international data usage applies.
  • Text allowances (like the Talk, Text & Data bundle) include multimedia messages too.

Data


  • Data usage can add up quickly. We recommend adding TravelPass or an International Travel data allowance.
  • Once you're traveling, our data alerts will help you manage your usage or check it on My Verizon.

Dialing Instructions

Country Code

From

To

Dial Network

Instruction

34

Spain

U.S.

GSM

Dial Plus Sign then 1 then ten digit U.S. number

34

Spain

Local

GSM

Dial Plus Sign then Country Code then Local Number with Area Code (if applicable)

34

Spain

Other Countries

GSM

Dial Plus Sign then Country Code then international number

34

Spain

Customer Service

GSM

Dial Plus Sign then 1 then 908-559-4899

34

Spain

Customer Service from a landline

None

Dial 00 800-50050099

Azamara Quest

U.S.

GSM

Dial 011 then 1 then number

Azamara Quest

Other Countries

GSM

Dial 011 then country code then number

Azamara Quest

Customer Service

GSM

Dial 011 then 1 then 908-559-4899


  • Your device may have assisted dialing functionality that allows you to make calls directly from your contact list.

    • If you receive error messages when making calls, try turning this option off and dialing manually.

    [*]Dialing outside the U.S. requires a different dialing pattern. If the sequence requires a plus sign (+), hold down the zero (0) or the asterisk (*) until the plus sign appears on the display.


    • If you have difficulty with the Plus Sign, try 0-0 (zero, zero) and then the international number.
    • If the international local number starts with a zero, drop the zero.

    [*]To check your Voicemail, use the “U.S.” instructions above and call your mobile number. Press # to interrupt the greeting and enter your password when prompted. If you’re unable to retrieve, turn off the world device and call your mobile number from another phone.

Manage Your International Services


  • From Your Computer:

    • Use the Trip Planner to see rates, plan options, and coverage maps.
    • Check your international usage and add or remove International Plans at any time in My Verizon.

    [*]From Your Device (incurs data usage):


    • Use My Verizon Mobile to

      • See if your device is set to travel with International Ready Check.
      • Monitor usage and update your International Plan

      [*]Receive data usage alerts directly to your device via text/email

Need assistance while traveling internationally? Call our support line 24/7. Dial the Plus Sign, then 1.908.559.4899

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I used tmobile for quite sometime. On our May West Med sailing my friend with T-mobile discovered, as I had a bit earlier, that they now block standard wi-fi calling ( or charge a rather hefty fee). He's now been a Project Fi-er since early summer. Interestingly enough T-mobile a part of the Project Fi network.

 

I dropped WhatsApp when FB bought them. Personal thing there, but otherwise very useful indeed.

 

 

Interesting. How do they block Wi-Fi calling? We use that 100% of the time in our home in the US?

 

I looked at Project Fi awhile ago. It really isn't better than our current senior citizen plan with T-Mobile - two lines $60/month total for both including taxes gets us unlimited calls, texts and data. the international freebies are icing on the cake.

 

I also have been very happy with their customer service and really appreciate that they give military personnel significant discounts.

Edited by jkgourmet

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Our cellphone provider (t-mobile) provides free data in most other counties. International texts are free. If we MUST make a phone call, we use WhatsApp or find a Wi-Fi connection.

 

I haven't bought a SIM card in 10 years.

 

We too have T-Mobile. Just used it on our Baltics cruise and we had free data in every country we visited (albeit slow). Phone calls to US were on average .20 per minute (that is even less than when I used to buy SIM cards in Europe).

 

I do recommend that you sign up for T-Mobile "Plus" for an extra $10 / month if you plan to use data in Europe. That will double the speed - but only to about 3G. It was slow, but we used it for maps navigation everywhere - walking and driving.

 

It worked out so well. Might be a more expensive option since you are not already with T mobile but just wanted to mention how well it worked for us.

 

Mike

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We too have T-Mobile. Just used it on our Baltics cruise and we had free data in every country we visited (albeit slow). Phone calls to US were on average .20 per minute (that is even less than when I used to buy SIM cards in Europe).

 

I do recommend that you sign up for T-Mobile "Plus" for an extra $10 / month if you plan to use data in Europe. That will double the speed - but only to about 3G. It was slow, but we used it for maps navigation everywhere - walking and driving.

 

It worked out so well. Might be a more expensive option since you are not already with T mobile but just wanted to mention how well it worked for us.

 

Mike

 

in April in Dublin and Norwegian fjords we had 4g in most areas. Lerwick, Scotland 2g.

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I'm a T-Mo fan, too. It makes traveling solo possible for me. I don't have to do anything when I leave the US either. Works same as home. T-Mo is a German company and it's seamless anywhere in Europe and anywhere you're likely to travel. Doesn't work in French Polynesia, though (or Afghanistan). Particularly loved getting the text, "Welcome to Sweden" when sailing under the bridge between Sweden and Denmark. I've found that if you can see land, you have coverage. Also found out that in Cozumel, coverage was 2G, but received a text from the Mexican provider that I could buy a day of faster service. As soon as we pulled away from the pier, magically 4G returned for as long as I could see land. Same thing in St Petersburg - signal is blocked in port but available as soon as we got about 500' away on the bus. Coverage has been outstanding in Italy (20 cents/minute was a godsend for lost luggage). Because I travel solo, I need to look like I know what I'm doing/where I'm going, so I tell google to give me walking directions to wherever it is and pop-in a bluetooth earpiece. I can walk with my head up and be completely aware of my surroundings while googlemaps is giving me directions in my ear. It's so accurate, it told me to cross to the other side of the street in Amsterdam, and sure enough, after the road curved, the sidewalk on the opposite side ended. I wouldn't leave home without it. :DSome other pluses are keeping cab drivers honest, especially in Rome, and if you're in the boonies, having your phone do translations. Really handy for gluten-free when no one speaks English and I don't know the right words for something.

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GHStudio: I have been researching the same issue for your three countries on my ocean cruise, and then a few additional countries on my following river cruise. We will be gone for around 29 days, so ideally I am also looking for a 30 day Sim. My phone is an unlocked AT&T phone.

 

First, I understand that under recent legislation in the EU, any EU based Sim Card is now supposed to work in any other EU country without roaming charges. It sounds as if the problem with your UK based card is that it is clearly designed for locals, not tourists, which is why they require a UK address.

 

I have not found any perfect answers for you, and all of them are more expensive than what you are looking for. Here is what I posted on another thread a few weeks ago:

 

I know someone currently using the Orange Holiday card on a river cruise, so I am looking forward to getting his input when he returns and then I need to buy something.

 

Feel free to contact me here if you want to share info as we discover better answers.

 

Tom & Judy

 

My friend returned from his river cruise, and reports that the Orange Holiday SIM worked fine throughout with no issues. I have decided to go with the Orange Holiday SIM for my trip as well, despite the disadvantage that I will have to "recharge" it halfway through my trip to get an additional 14 days. I have checked reviews of as many of these Sim cards as I have found, and as a general proposition, it seems like they work fine for most people, but for a minority of people there are endless problems reported. No data connection, can't make outgoing calls, data drains way too fast, etc. I have a hard time judging whether these are real problems with the Sim cards, or primarily user error. I might be kidding myself, but I have become convinced that a plus for Orange Holiday card is the fact that you are buying the Orange Holiday card directly from Orange USA (through Amazon). Thus you have a more direct link to customer service, if needed, than if you buy a card through some third party vendor.

 

Tom & Judy

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I've learned more....and it's good for european travel.

 

You can order a giffgaff card from giffgaff.com...free. They will ship anywhere in the world. Each card has a unique activation code.

 

Activate your card on their web site. one option is to just put 10 UKP on the account from paypal or credit card.

 

Your phone (with the giffgaff sim) can now be used around the world at their "pay as you go" rates. You do not have to buy a "bundle"...just leave the 10 pound credit on your account.

 

You will then be charged for use at the pay as you go rates. We are going to Italy so here are their rates:

 

data 5p per MB

Calls within the EU 15p per minute

texts (sending only) 5p per text.

 

Important note: these rates are only for calls within the EU. If you are calling outside the EU, cost will be 1 pound per minute on calls and 30p per text. There is a list of EU countries on the giffgaff web site.

 

Since we will only be using as an emergency or perhaps to call for reservations somewhere in the EU, our cost will be the 10 pounds...approx $13.

 

Data isn't cheap, but for 100MB data which should be more than we need for mail,quicken updates it will cost another $6...but remember this is all deducted from that first 10 UKP. If you use more data (etc) and will exceed the 10UKP, you can always refresh your credit online.

 

I believe you need to use the card every 3 or maybe 6 months to keep any remaining credit active....when you get back to the US, just try to remember to send yourself an instant message for 30p. (yes, the card works fine in the US, it's just much more expensive than other options...but for one instant message it's fine.

 

Finally, if you are actually visiting the UK, then you don't put credit on your account, you can decide if a giffgaff "bundle" or payasyougo is better for you.

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I've learned more....and it's good for european travel.

 

You can order a giffgaff card from giffgaff.com...free. They will ship anywhere in the world. Each card has a unique activation code.

 

Activate your card on their web site. one option is to just put 10 UKP on the account from paypal or credit card.

 

Your phone (with the giffgaff sim) can now be used around the world at their "pay as you go" rates. You do not have to buy a "bundle"...just leave the 10 pound credit on your account.

 

You will then be charged for use at the pay as you go rates. We are going to Italy so here are their rates:

 

data 5p per MB

Calls within the EU 15p per minute

texts (sending only) 5p per text.

 

Important note: these rates are only for calls within the EU. If you are calling outside the EU, cost will be 1 pound per minute on calls and 30p per text. There is a list of EU countries on the giffgaff web site.

 

Since we will only be using as an emergency or perhaps to call for reservations somewhere in the EU, our cost will be the 10 pounds...approx $13.

 

Data isn't cheap, but for 100MB data which should be more than we need for mail,quicken updates it will cost another $6...but remember this is all deducted from that first 10 UKP. If you use more data (etc) and will exceed the 10UKP, you can always refresh your credit online.

 

I believe you need to use the card every 3 or maybe 6 months to keep any remaining credit active....when you get back to the US, just try to remember to send yourself an instant message for 30p. (yes, the card works fine in the US, it's just much more expensive than other options...but for one instant message it's fine.

 

Finally, if you are actually visiting the UK, then you don't put credit on your account, you can decide if a giffgaff "bundle" or payasyougo is better for you.

 

Ghstudio - sounds like it might be a good option, too. I thought from your initial post that there was some issue about having to be in the UK first in order to use it?

 

Other things being equal, I prefer SIMs with a prepackaged bundle so that I don't need to worry about how much data I am using (at least within some broad limits). But I will probably end up spending more with Orange Holiday than you might with Giffgaff. My trip starts next month, and I will try to post here as to how it goes. Please do the same after your trip.

 

Tom & Judy

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I have a Verizon International Plan. It is $10 a day for all calls and data in those countries and you are only charged when you turn on the phone. The $10 is for 24 hours of service. If you leave it off for a day...no charge. Mine is Travel Pass

 

TravelPass℠: Starting at just $5 a day per line, TravelPass lets you use your domestic voice, text and data plan while traveling to Mexico, Canada and beyond. If you’re headed to one of 130 other countries, you pay $10 a day per line. Either way, you’re only charged on the days you use your phone.

TravelPass is simple to activate. Add it from My Verizon and you’ll get a text message explaining the daily fee when you arrive. The first time you use your phone, the daily fee begins. Use your phone as much as you want for the next 24 hours. You’ll only get another TravelPass charge if you use your device again after the first 24 hours. Every 4G LTE World Device from Verizon (including smartphones, tablets, Verizon Jetpack and USB modems) with a qualifying domestic plan is eligible for TravelPass.

Just remember that your minutes, texts and data will count toward your regular plan. If you go over your plan allowance, you’ll be charged overages based on your domestic plan.

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I have a Verizon International Plan. It is $10 a day for all calls and data in those countries and you are only charged when you turn on the phone. The $10 is for 24 hours of service. If you leave it off for a day...no charge. Mine is Travel Pass

 

We have used Travel Pass with Verizon for all of our trips outside the US and have found it to be extremely useful. Once you've set it up, it's always there for future excursions overseas.

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While this may be obvious to most, it is worth pointing out to some who may be reading this thread - that in order to use a SIM other than the one you have from your cell phone provider you must have an unlocked phone.

 

Most people in the US do not have an unlocked phone. I believe that legislation has been passed that requires providers to unlock phones upon request once certain conditions have been met (e.g. phone paid off, or have had a contract for X months). Years ago I used to have pretty good luck getting my phone unlocked upon request - now I only buy unlocked phones. There are also places you can take your phone to get it unlocked - depending on the phone.

 

Those looking into SIM cards likely know all this already - as I said just mentioning it for others.

 

Mike

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We have used Travel Pass with Verizon for all of our trips outside the US and have found it to be extremely useful. Once you've set it up, it's always there for future excursions overseas.

Yes, it's really simple and you can still do wi-fi calls aboard the ship.

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While this may be obvious to most, it is worth pointing out to some who may be reading this thread - that in order to use a SIM other than the one you have from your cell phone provider you must have an unlocked phone.

 

Most people in the US do not have an unlocked phone. I believe that legislation has been passed that requires providers to unlock phones upon request once certain conditions have been met (e.g. phone paid off, or have had a contract for X months). Years ago I used to have pretty good luck getting my phone unlocked upon request - now I only buy unlocked phones. There are also places you can take your phone to get it unlocked - depending on the phone.

 

Those looking into SIM cards likely know all this already - as I said just mentioning it for others.

 

Mike

 

Actually, it's quite a bit more complicated than that because phones (and cellular enabled devices) support different standards, different frequencies, different bands....carriers only support some bands/freq/stds...and they don't always match up that well.

 

I recommend checking with your current carrier (ATT, Verizon, etc). If they have an international plan that will work in your phone in the specific country you will be visiting (and your phone is unlocked) then you're probably ok with any of the GiffGaff or other Sims.

 

There are no guarantees.....the real test is when you get there, turn on your phone with the new SIM and it works. You may only have 3G data if the LTE bands don't line up, but slower data is better than none.

 

Welcome to the world of standards that aren't standard.

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We will be boarding the Constellation next month in Civitavecchia for a B2B cruise and decided to purchase a Tim for Visitors sim card available at the Roma Termini. Valid for 30 days from activation and costs €30 including the sim card, includes 18Gb of data (6 GB throughout EU).

- includes 200 minutes local and international on the 4G network.

 

This will be the best option for us as we will use wifi on the ship and is good to have data offshore available for hotspotting Ipad etc.

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We will be boarding the Constellation next month in Civitavecchia for a B2B cruise and decided to purchase a Tim for Visitors sim card available at the Roma Termini. Valid for 30 days from activation and costs €30 including the sim card, includes 18Gb of data (6 GB throughout EU).

- includes 200 minutes local and international on the 4G network.

 

This will be the best option for us as we will use wifi on the ship and is good to have data offshore available for hotspotting Ipad etc.

 

Kiwi Cruisers: is one of your cruises the October 19 cruise? If so, I may meet you on board.

 

I had considered the Tim for Visitors card, but decided against it because I saw (in my mind) too many negative reviews. Please let us know afterwards how it went, because if it in fact works well, I agree that is a good option for anyone travelling in or leaving on a cruise from Italy.

 

Tom & Judy

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Hi Tom & Judy

 

 

 

We will be on the following cruise the 30th October and 11th November with the cruise ending in Abu Dhabi.

cheers

Joel

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