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This is only my second cruise and I was wondering what people do to ensure that they aren't accidentally being charged an arm and a leg by their phone company while onboard and in ports. Do you leave your phone on airplane mode the whole time? I know this is a really dumb question, but I am so nervous about having my device in all of these locations. 

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On my last cruise I didn’t purchase an internet package & i didn’t put my phone in airplane mode; I just connected mi iPhone to the ship’s free guest wifi and I was able to use the free royal caribbean app, camera calculator, settings, fitness, watch, & calendar apps & I could use 20 of the apps on my Apple Watch that don’t need to connect to the internet

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Depending on your carrier, there are inexpensive international travel plans you can add (not cruise plans). For ATT, if I take my phone out of airplane mode while I’m in another country, I am charged $10 for that day and can use my phone like I was home. Obviously when you are at sea, it will not be able to connect so just leave it in airplane mode most of the time. But at least in port there is no angst if I decide to connect. 

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8 minutes ago, fa-li said:

Depending on your carrier, there are inexpensive international travel plans you can add (not cruise plans). For ATT, if I take my phone out of airplane mode while I’m in another country, I am charged $10 for that day and can use my phone like I was home. Obviously when you are at sea, it will not be able to connect so just leave it in airplane mode most of the time. But at least in port there is no angst if I decide to connect. 

This is what we do also (AT&T).  Once ship is in port if you want to use your phone you can using whatever international plan you have or just leave it in airplane mode.  Hubby needs to use his phone or i just keep mine in airplane mode and family knows if they need me they just text or call his phone.

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9 hours ago, Bakerette said:

On my last cruise I didn’t purchase an internet package & i didn’t put my phone in airplane mode; I just connected mi iPhone to the ship’s free guest wifi and I was able to use the free royal caribbean app, camera calculator, settings, fitness, watch, & calendar apps & I could use 20 of the apps on my Apple Watch that don’t need to connect to the internet

You must have had international roaming turned off.

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I will say thatI thought I knew everything there was to know about preventing charges.  I am an apple user and have multiple devices.  The only settings I touched were "cellular data" which I turned off, thinking that's all I needed to do.  I was connected to wifi most of the time, and everything worked as expected.  I did notice that I was getting text messages from time to time (not iMessages).  I assumed that they were somehow coming through via the internet.

My first bill after the trip included charges for those text messages.  It wasn't major and could have been worse.  My carrier (Verizon) told me that turning off cellular is a start but recommended next time I turn on airplane mode (which will by default disable wifi) and re-enable wifi and bluetooth.

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Many cellular plans have wifi calling option if the phone can manage it.  If you are getting the internet, you might have phone service on the ship available to you.  Your phone would be in airplane mode with wifi turned on and you can use phone as normal.  Might be worth looking into. 

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1 hour ago, Colombia20102018 said:

The cruise WIFI cannot be accessed with the airplane mode on. One thing you could do is to go to your phone settings and turn off the cellular data, the roaming and also some phones have a feature to stop the phone from automatically connectinv to a phone company network. So fat this has worked for me.

I'm not aware of any phone where you can't turn Wi-Fi on after turning on airplane mode.  After all, that's how you use the internet while on an actual airplane!

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Airplane mode is the standard and will absolutely be enough.

But if you're like me you can also manually turn off mobile data and roaming before turning on airplane mode and that gives you extra security in the event you accidentally turn airplane mode off. Those two features are what connects to the cell towers of your local area and if those are off, even with airplane mode off, your phone still won't try to connect to them.

But in both cases you can still access wifi.

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2 hours ago, Peter D said:

Many cellular plans have wifi calling option if the phone can manage it.  If you are getting the internet, you might have phone service on the ship available to you.  Your phone would be in airplane mode with wifi turned on and you can use phone as normal.  Might be worth looking into. 

Wifi calling is notoriously hit or miss on cruise ships though.

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16 hours ago, KDK said:

This is only my second cruise and I was wondering what people do to ensure that they aren't accidentally being charged an arm and a leg by their phone company while onboard and in ports. Do you leave your phone on airplane mode the whole time? I know this is a really dumb question, but I am so nervous about having my device in all of these locations. 

I turn it off and lock it in the safe for the entire cruise.

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6 hours ago, Colombia20102018 said:

The cruise WIFI cannot be accessed with the airplane mode on. One thing you could do is to go to your phone settings and turn off the cellular data, the roaming and also some phones have a feature to stop the phone from automatically connectinv to a phone company network. So fat this has worked for me.

We have iPhones, AT&T plans, and we never have any problem connecting to wifi onboard with the phone on airplane mode. No idea why you cannot, but this is definitely not the case for many/most phones.

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