With cruise line apps and text message alerts being more and more useful for many travelers, it is essential that guests understand how to use their devices without adding up international roaming charges or other fees.

Carnival Cruise Line Brand Ambassador John Heald has recently addressed this concern after an irate guest was upset by cell phone charges during a recent sailing.

John Heald, who routinely answers thousands of questions each week on his popular Facebook page, has addressed one cruiser’s frustration at cell phone charges they accrued during a recent sailing aboard Carnival Freedom. While the sailing date was not disclosed, the guest was surprised to find hundreds of dollars of cell phone charges on their bill after returning home.

“Just got my monthly cell phone charges through and there are $470 worth of charges from my cruise on Carnival cruises Freedom,” the guest wrote to Heald.

The exact details of the charges were not outlined, though the guest claimed that “he” – perhaps a partner or family member – only played games on the phone, and did not make calls. In reviewing the charges and discussing the situation with others, this guest had also received incorrect advice.

“Someone told me that the cruise line should be responsible because nobody told us that we should have the phone in airplane mode or off,” the message read. “My complaint is this… nowhere on the ship does Carnival highlight that there will be extremely high prices for using data at sea and EXACTLY what that cost is.”

The guest goes on to state that “Carnival must be getting paid very well for this service at the expense of their passengers and they try to be a covert as possible with the pricing structure. We should be compensated.”

Phone on Carnival Cruise (Photo Credit: rafapress)

While experienced cruisers may be shocked at the expectation that a cruise line would cover cell phone charges for individual travelers who fail to put their phones in airplane mode or to turn their phones off while traveling, it is possible that a novice cruiser on their first sailing might not immediately realize that this is necessary.

However, such information is made readily available to all travelers. For example, when using the Carnival Hub app, there are reminders (when first getting connected) to put the phone in airplane mode and how to connect to the ship’s individual service.

Furthermore, reminders are often printed in the Carnival Fun Times newsletter or announced by the cruise director, especially on embarkation day, and may also be displayed on stateroom televisions. Depending on a guest’s cell phone provider, they may also receive alerts if they are about to go outside of service areas.

Those brand new to cruising may also not quite realize how quickly a cruise ship can leave a land-based cellular network behind once leaving port, therefore subjecting phone usage to expensive international roaming charges.

Understandably, Heald had to disappoint the guest and no compensation will be offered for their excessive phone charges.

“That must have been quite a shock to get home and have that bill,” Heald responded. “I am sorry that we cannot compensate for this. I am guessing that your son was doing online gaming and had not downloaded the internet and used the cellular network. I cannot agree we are being ‘covert’ and we do not get paid by the telephone companies.”

John Heald

It should be noted that the guest appears to expect that Carnival Cruise Line would know a “pricing structure” for cell phone charges, when every different cell network and usage plan may have very different fees and charges for these types of situations. It would be impossible for any cruise line to have updated knowledge of every possible option for every sailing.

It is possible, however, for individual guests to be aware of their own plans and potential charges, long before they may set sail. The information would be available through their cell service provider, either online or with a call to customer service.

Setting one’s cell phone to airplane mode is a simple process, accomplished with just a few taps or a quick swipe. Alternatively, a phone that is completely turned off and powered down will not rack up any international charges – and guests will have that much more time to discover all the fun aboard their Carnival cruise.

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