How to communicate with someone on a cruise ship

24 Feb 2022
Matt Hochberg

What is the best way to stay connected with family and friends while onboard a cruise ship?

Friends at Lime and Coconut bar

A lot of people that are about to go on a cruise want to know the best way to stay in touch with those on the same ship as them.  

Often, the question goes something like this, "I am cruising with several groups of people. How do you recommend we stay connected on the ship?"

Royal Caribbean cruise ships range in a guest capacity of about 2,000 to 6,500, so finding one person onboard is not always a simple task.  

Here are some common and useful ways of doing being able to easy contact someone, with each method coming with pros and cons. 

Royal Caribbean's phones

Utilizing Royal Caribbean's in-room phones and phones in common areas is a simple way to communicate with guests onboard your ship and onshore.

If you are trying to reach a guest onboard the ship, you can make a call to their stateroom and optionally leave a message.  Use of the phones for calls to a guest's stateroom is complimentary.  Of course, it requires the guest to be in the room to answer the call and/or check the voicemail.  This can result in "phone tag," where it seems like you are always missing each other.

The best part of relying on the cruise ship phones to reach someone else onboard is it's totally free.

Royal Caribbean Blog - Unofficial blog about Royal Caribbean cruises

If you want to get in contact with someone on land, there are two options.

Calls made from land to your Royal Caribbean cruise (shore to ship) can be achieved by calling (888) 724-7447/(321) 953-9003 to reach passengers.  The cost of this service is $7.95 per minute, and is chargeable to a Visa or MasterCard credit card.

Calls made from your Royal Caribbean ship to somewhere on land (ship to shore) can be made from your stateroom phone and also costs $7.95 per minute, billed to your SeaPass account.

Using your cell phone

Cellphone Use Onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

Almost everyone has a cell phone with them and your cell phone will function while on a cruise, although the cost of doing so will vary greatly.

You could use your phone like normal and place calls and text messages by connecting to the cell provider on the Royal Caribbean ship, but this comes with a heft roaming cost. Usually, calls cost $6-8 per minute depending on your carrier.

Using your cell phone's data plan can be prohibitively expensive, with costs of $1 per MB or more.  You are better off skipping this option and looking at Voom options (scroll down to see more about this).

I don't recommend this option at all because of the crazy high prices carriers charge for roaming. I mention it purely because it exists, and some people have work phones that don't care about running up a bill.

Ship internet

What is the difference between Royal Caribbean's Voom Surf and Voom Surf and Stream? | Royal Caribbean Blog

The best option for most people is to purchase a Royal Caribbean Voom internet package.

There are two Voom plans offered: Voom Surf or Voom Surf + Stream

  • Voom Surf
    • This offers basic web browsing, with no streaming services allowed
    • Starts at $17.99 per day for 1 device
      • The price gets cheaper as more devices are added to the plan
      • Most guests can get a 20% pre-cruise discount via the Cruise Planner site
      • There is also a Crown & Anchor Society discount once onboard
  • Voom Surf + Stream
    • Full internet access, including streaming services
    • Starts at $22.99 per day for 1 device
      • The price gets cheaper as more devices are added to the plan
      • Most guests can get a 20% pre-cruise discount via the Cruise Planner site
      • There is also a Crown & Anchor Society discount once onboard
  • 24 hour single day pass: $25.99 for surf or $32.99 for Surf + Stream

Once connected to the ship's internet, you can leverage any number of messaging apps to communicate with someone else onboard, or even at home.

These apps are usually free to use for voice and texting. Popular options include:

  • Facebook Messenger
  • WhatsApp
  • Skype
  • GroupMe

Of course, for this option to work, everyone who you need to stay in contact with needs to purchase a Voom package and have their phone or tablet with them.

Buying everyone an internet package is still cheaper than the roaming charges you would incur using your cell carrier, and more than likely there's a common (and free) app you can all agree to use.

WiFi calling

Royal Caribbean WiFi: Guide to Internet at sea | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you get an internet package, another option is WiFi calling through your carrier.

Most major cell phone carriers these days provide a means of making phone calls via an internet connection instead of relying on a cell phone connection. 

WiFi calling has no additional cost and works just like you are at home and supports voice calls, text messaging (SMS and MMS).  It works with most newer devices, including iPhone 5C and later, Android and Blackberry devices.  Check with your carrier for exact devices that are supported.

At last check, these carriers supported WiFi calling

  • Verizon
  • AT&T
  • T-Mobile
  • Sprint
  • GoogleFi
  • Cricket

To make a phone call over WiFi, put your device into airplane mode and connect to Voom via WiFi.  

If set up correctly on your phone, your calls, texts will be routed through Voom.

Royal Caribbean App

Royal Caribbean's app has a text feature that offers one-to-one guest chat, along with group chats.

Once onboard the ship and logged onto Royal Caribbean's Wi-Fi  network (no internet package required to use the app), other guests will show up as offline or online but are only online if they have the app opened and to the “chat” window.

There is no cost to use Royal Caribbean's app (this changed in 2023, as there used to be a charge).

If there's a downfall of the app, it's the lack of notifications. Many cruisers report they do not get notified of a new message unless they open the Royal Caribbean app to check.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean's onboard messaging system is now free: Here's how it works

Your Thoughts

Which means of communicating with friends and family on your ship and at sea do you find to be the best option? Did we miss one you know about? Share your comments and suggestions in the comments!

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost experts on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

Get our newsletter

Stay up-to-date with cruise news & advice

    We never share your information with third parties and will protect it in accordance with our Privacy Policy