How much does it cost to use your cell phone on a cruise ship?  We compared the plans, cost, and services from the three largest cell phone providers.

The cost depends on your cell phone carrier and how much data you plan to use. Some cruise travelers have been shocked by their cell phone bills after returning from a cruise, when they realized they were being charged for data usage throughout the voyage.

For this reason, we recommend putting your cell phone in airplane mode and using the ship’s Wi-Fi once you leave port. However, some people prefer the convenience and simplicity of using a cell phone carrier’s cruise plan.

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This article will compare Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile’s cruise plans to help you choose the best option for your needs.

With Wi-Fi plans starting around $18 a day on most cruise lines, it’s usually the more economical way to stay connected through your personal devices.  This is especially useful if you have Wi-Fi calling enabled.

This comparison is for cell phone use on a cruise ship, not when in international cruise ports.

Below is the basic breakdown comparison for using these cell phone providers on board a cruise ship.

AT&T:
Voice: $3/minute (cruise package for $100 – unlimited Talk)
Text: .50/text, $1.30 for images and video messages
Data: $2.05/MB  (1GB data with $100 cruise package)

T-Mobile:
Voice: $5.99/minute
Text: $.50/sent message (potentially free to receive)
Data: Not available on board

Verizon:
Voice: $2.99/minute
Text: $0.50 per text sent, $0.05 per text received
Data: $20/50MB

AT&T

AT&T offers two cruise package plans.  They each are a one-time charge with benefits that will last for 30 days.

AT&T Cruise Plus:
Cost: $100
Unlimited Talk
Unlimited Text
1GB of Data
Overage of $10 per 100MB of data

AT&T Cruise Basic
Cost: $60
100 minutes of Talk (Overage: $1/minute)
Unlimited Text
100MB of Data
Overage of $10 per 100MB of data

These cruise package plans will be activated once your cruise ship is away from shore and will display as “Cellular at Sea, wmsatsea, 901-18, or NOR-18” once you are connected.

Pay-per-use rates

For cruisers who would rather pay as they go, the cruise ship rates with AT&T are $2.05/MB of use.  This does not require having a cruise package plan.

What cruise ships will allow me to use AT&T plans?

There are 175 cruise ships that will facilitate the use of AT&T cell phone plans.  Usage of these plans still also requires a compatible device with domestic postpaid wireless service.

You can find the full list of ships here, but here are the cruise lines that are on the list:

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Azamara, Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Celestyal Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn, Silversea Cruise Line, TUI Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Windstar Cruises.

Verizon

Verizon does not offer any specific cruise packages. However, customers on most Verizon plans can use their regular plan at sea, but with some restrictions.

Talk: $2.99 per minute
Text: $0.50 per text sent, $0.05 per text received

Monthly Plan

With a $20/month plan users can get 50MB of data.  This plan will be offered on select cruise ships if the ship has data service.

Any data used over the 50MB mark will be charged at another $20 per 50MB of use.

Here is a list of cruise lines Verizon states on their website where service is available: Azamara, Carnival Cruise Line, Crystal Cruises, Cunard, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Paul Gaugin, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn, Silversea, TUI Cruises, Windstar Cruises.

Verizon also offers a TravelPass service that can be used on cruise ships. TravelPass costs $10 per day and includes unlimited talk, text, and data.

Verizon customers can use the international trip planner on Verizon’s website to know exactly what kind of costs to expect while traveling abroad.

T-Mobile

While T-Mobile has some of the best international coverage baked into their basic plans, there are some limitations if trying to use data while on a cruise.

T-Mobile recommends that cruisers turn off roaming when the ship is docked in a U.S. cruise port and then turn it back on once the ship is out at sea.  Otherwise, users may pick up the ship’s network and be charged cruise ship roaming charges.

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Here are the rates from T-Mobile when on a cruise ship.

Text: $.50/Text when sending, and received texts are the same as your plans domestic rate
Talk: $5.99/minute

There are no data plans available on cruise ships with T-Mobile.  For usage of voice and text on a cruise you will need to check on the T-Mobile website, as availability is limited and not available on every ship within a fleet.

You will also need to make sure your device is compatible with cruise ship roaming on the network.

Once in port, you can really make use of T-Mobile’s robust international perks.  With most Go5G plans there are no international data-roaming charges in over 215 countries and you can make use of unlimited basic data and unlimited texting with calls only costing $.25/minute.

Even the Essentials plan has unlimited data and texting with data speeds up to 128kbps in Mexico and Canada.

Bottom Line

Cell phone rates on cruise ships can vary widely, so it is important to compare your options before you sail.  I prefer to use T-mobile’s international perks for use in foreign ports and the cruise ship’s Wi-Fi when on the ship.  This has worked well for me.  But AT&T’s cruise ships plans can be attractive for those who want to use their cell phone provider instead.

However you decide to stay connected while at sea, make sure you know exactly what you are being charged so you don’t rack up a huge cell phone bill.

Read more: 5 ways to save money on cruise ship Wi-Fi

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