9 Tips to Use Your Phone on a Cruise | Craig Travel

9 Tips to Use Your Phone on a Cruise

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“Where is my cellphone?” Every mobile device owner says this from time to time. Over the past two decades, these portable devices seem to have taken a very important role in our lifestyle, personality and habits. So much so that it can be inconceivable for some travellers to experience a new part of the world without being able to use their mobile device. However, that precious electronic of yours can quickly become a real financial glutton… especially when travelling abroad. Here are some tips on how to use your phone on a cruise without breaking your piggy bank.    
 

Pre-Cruise Tips - Plan ahead to avoid unexpected surprises

1. Make a list of your habits
The first thing you may want to consider is to find out how you use your phone and data. List out all the different purposes you use your phone for - messaging, emails, internet browsing, social media, etc. This will help you understand your daily habits and to make an informed decision as to whether you can enjoy your vacation without being connected or whether you should opt for an internet plan.
Once you’ve got your list ready, a free online data calculator can help you figure out what your surfing habits translate into in terms of data usage. This can prove useful when trying to plan how much data you will need throughout your vacation. 
 
2. Set a budget for onboard internet use
Now that you have a better idea of your internet usage habits, you may want to spend some time on finding out how much an internet plan will cost you. Budgeting the cost into your vacation expenses will prevent unexpected surprises. Should you decide to purchase one of the internet packages offered by the cruise line, it is important you know they can be pricey. If your daily data usage mainly encompasses emailing and messaging, the lowest option available should be sufficient to meet your needs. If you fancy watching videos, listening to music or video calling your relatives, you may need to opt for a package on the higher end as streaming videos and music tends to use up a more significant amount of data.  
 
3. Look into the options offered by your carrier
It is possible your carrier offers you more advantageous deals than the cruise line. You may however want to make sure all countries you are visiting during your cruise will be covered by your roaming plan. Remember that every time you are cruising to a new country, your phone will automatically search for local reception. Your telephone provider may offer a cruise-dedicated plan ensuring you are able to use your phone at each port. Also consider that you may not have access to your carrier's plan during sea days if there is no reception. A carrier plan may not be ideal for a cruise with a lot of sea days like an Atlantic crossing.
 
4. Familiarize yourself with your phone
Make sure you know how your phone works and adjust settings if necessary. Roaming settings are something to look up depending on the preferences used, they may cause overcharges you won’t know about until you receive your next phone bill. Have a look at your background data preferences as most applications will still use some of your data behind the scenes, whether you are using them or not. Change your settings to Wi-Fi only or disable roaming entirely for peace of mind. You may also want to consider disabling application updates while away so they don't consume your data automatically.
If these terminologies are gibberish to you, don’t hesitate to go to one of your phone provider’s stores and ask an assistant for help and guidance. Even your children or grandchildren could be a helpful source!
 

During the cruise: 

5. Set your phone to airplane mode
One of the best methods to ensure you do not spend money on roaming unknowingly is by setting your phone to airplane mode. When activated, airplane mode will turn off wireless features. In other words, you will not be able to use your phone to call, text or surf the internet unless you are connected to a Wi-Fi network. If you do purchase a plan that gives you access to the ship’s Wi-Fi, do not forget to turn off your Wi-Fi feature when you are done browsing the internet. This will prevent using up your data allowance when you are not actively using it. 
 
6. Know what to expect
To avoid disappointment and frustration, it is critical to understand that internet accessibility aboard a ship will never be as smooth as when on land. When at sea, your internet connection will rely on several factors - time of day, number of users, distance of the ship from land and even your location on the ship. Internet on cruise ships is only possible through satellites. Because they are in constant motion, the ships constantly need to re-establish their connection with the satellites. This may then affect the quality of your internet connection. Combined with the previously underlined variables, you can expect your connection to be slower and sometimes nonexistent. You may need to use some of your patience to send that email to friends letting them know about your great adventures, but don't fret, you’re also on vacation - you’ve got plenty of time! 
 
7. Find out about your options to stay in touch with home
Most cruise lines are responsive to guests’ enhancement recommendations and have developed messaging applications and services facilitating communication with loved ones at home. Once you are settled in your stateroom, feel free to walk over to the customer service desk and enquire about the different communication options offered by the cruise line. 
Otherwise, once you are connected to the internet, you will be able to use the same applications you may already be familiar with at home - Messenger, What’s App, Skype, Facetime, etc.
If you’re not an accustomed user of any of these applications, make sure you download the ones you want to use when you are still at home, set up an account and let your friends and family know you will be reaching out to them through those applicaions - your relatives will know how to contact you in return as well. 
 
 

In port:

8. Understand your roaming plan limitations
If you have decided to opt for a roaming plan with your provider, make sure you understand what your data allowance is prior to using your cellphone. Check how much roaming data, voice and text messaging you have included. This way, you will know best how to limit yourself. Double check with your carrier that each port of call you are visiting is covered by your roaming plan, otherwise you may just want to leave the airplane mode on for that day. Your phone service provided will likely have a map or chart on their website that details all of the countries you can access their services through while abroad.
 
9. Search for Wi-Fi
Should you need your phone for the day, know that you will most likely be able to find complimentary Wi-Fi in local cafés, restaurants and other public areas, depending on your destination. Password-protected networks will be more secure and should be prioritized for use when possible. Otherwise, be cautious of which network you are connecting your mobile device to and what applications you are using as we are never too protected from malicious hackers. For security, avoid using email and banking applications if you are not on a secure password protected Wi-Fi network.
 
We love to hear from Craig Travellers wherever they may be in the world. If you have opted  in for an internet package, please feel free to send us some pictures, stories and anecdotes as you discover the wonders of our oceans!
 
Happy surfing, happy sailing! 
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