If you're like me, you want to know how much things are going to cost before you actually use them. While we're on our cruise, we wondered if we should get international calling added to one of the phones, or whether we should just skip it, opting to use Skype or something else via wifi when we're in port.
My cellular provider is AT&T and while there are things that can be annoying (dropped calls during my commute), I have nothing but good things about their customer service for the ten years I've been with them. In looking over the various international calling plans on their website, I grew MORE confused.
Add to that confusion that I now have international messaging as part of my plan. Wait, what? In reading more about that, it seems that I now can send messages to my international friends via text for free, but only while I'm in the US. Okay, now that they clarified where I could use that, what about the Carribbean?
Some cruise lines have a package plan with AT&T, but the cruise line we'll be on only has one ship in the US, and they don't participate in it. We still wanted to be able to communicate with Allen and the boys in an emergency, so I called AT&T to clear up which way to proceed. The rep, Nelson, was extremely helpful-and I typed up a summary for my fellow cruisers.
Of course, to me, that means that I should share it with others, and now you have it, too!
AT&T info about taking a cruise and cell phone use (for US residents):
Those not planning to use their phones for calls or texts, turn off your data roaming Before you even get on the ship! You rarely need it while in the US. It must be turned off to use your ship's wifi services, anyway.
Also, if your phone is on (i.e. not in airplane mode) and you don't answer a call, you're still dinged for usage time for the person to hear your voice mail message AND if they leave a message. (one minute outgoing, one minute incoming can equal 5 bucks if you're at sea!)
It is suggested that you leave your phone in airplane mode and just check it periodically at times you think it will be safe to turn it on (for instance, Nelson recommended after business hours). Airplane mode funnels calls directly to voice mail, thus skipping any charges for you.
Incoming texts for AT&T customers are free. Outgoing texts are .50 each, and 1.30 each for any attachments, like photos. Depending on your ports of call, any calls made from it or on the ship are 2.50 per minute, Cozumel is $1.00 per minute.
If you need the pertinent numbers, to call AT&T to set up a plan, call 800-335-4385. While on the ship or in port, #001-916-845-4685.
To turn off data roaming, Select 'Settings', then select 'Cellular'. Once in 'Cellular', find data roaming and toggle it off if it happens to be on.
From the settings app icon, this screen will appear. Select 'Cellular' to access data roaming.
Toggle Data Roaming off to avoid charges. The button should look this when turned off.
Hopefully, this simplified the process for you, instead of weeding through all the information on AT&T's site. As for us, It is good to know the texts are only .50 each.
Our devices have Skype, so we potentially can use that while ashore. We can arrange a specific time to check in on the Cozumel day, as well as change settings on the phone to display the entire text. (currently, I just have mine set to show who has sent the message). That way, I can pick and choose what needs a rapid response.