People who want to stay connected to work or social networks were always out of luck when it came to taking a cruise—routine cell phone service had to be purchased from the ships at shocking markups. Data plans were nearly impossible to find at an affordable rate.
Until recently, travelers with any type of cell phone were at the mercy of cruise line operators when it came to using their devices. Enter AT&T, who has introduced a new service that, despite a few wrinkles, now makes it easy and affordable to stay connected while on a cruise ship. Cruise lines that already offer the service include Royal Caribbean International and select Celebrity Cruises ships, according to Gadling.com. Though there is one small glitch.
What’s the Glitch?
In order to save money with one of AT&T’s cruise ship packages, you must buy at least one month of service, despite the fact that most pleasure cruises are only one or two weeks in length. This rate is in addition to your normal contract rate. You can use your phone in international waters when the device marquee display reads “Cellular at Sea,” according AT&T.
What’s the Price?
While a number of executives will likely want the opportunity to disconnect from the office, others want to avoid the email backup upon return. Also, for vacationers devoted to their social media pages, updating their status is easy and less costly with these new AT&T plans. No matter if you are cruising in Alaska or the Mediterranean, bloggers and tweeters alike can keep their friends and followers in the know.
Pricing is as follows:
- 50 talk minutes for $30
- 100 minutes of video/text/pictures and 50 talk minutes for $60
- 50 talk minutes, 100 minutes of video/text/pictures and 120MB of data for $120
Additionally, with the new Cellular at Sea rates, families or friends cruising together can easily stay in touch when attending different activities onboard.
Cruise lines have a variety of helpful apps for passengers. ShipMate, for example, offers a cruise countdown, deck plans, port guides, cruising tips, cruise chat, cruise ship tracking and more. You can bet there are apps in development for booking a massage, making reservations in the upscale dining room or arranging for a day trip when stopping in port.
With the new plan, parents will be more secure leaving their kids in the cruise line’s care during the day, as they can call and check on them. Teens cannot hide when their curfew arrives — it may be that their love of technology diminishes a little while cruising.
Other carriers have not yet announced their plans for a similar program, but you can be sure they are watching the AT&T program with interest.
Cellular companies, cruise lines and app developers will begin filling the void that was created by the traditional billing methods used on cruise ships before the May announcement.