Does anyone knows if the cell phone is working in the Western Caribbean port (Cazumel, Ocho Rios, Labadee, George Town) and/or when at sea?
Also, do I need an international contract?
How much they charge?
You will not get a signal on your Cingular phone after about 5 miles out and then it returns once you are back close to port. I'm not 100% sure as I haven't dealt with company phones for a while, but when I did handle them, Cingular didn't have international service. You can get some signal in Mexico, but be very careful as they are aces at cloning your number and then you have to go to hassle of changing out your phone or your phone number. We just used ours on board for the alarm clock or on last cruise, we just locked them in the safe.
I was just in Cozumel and our new "tri-band" international phone worked. If you have a tri-band phone, you will probably be able to get service in all these ports. Rates are around $1.50-$2.00 per minute, incoming and outgoing calls!!! You may want to leave the phone off and only turn it on when you need to call unless you don't get too many random calls from chit-chatters. You may need to call Cingular to activate this feature on your phone. Check their web site.
Older and less expensive phones won't work in most of these ports as they use different radio frequencies than US phones do.
Another option I've heard of is to buy prepaid phone cards that allow you to maken international calls back to the states.
As for cell phone service on ships: a very few ships are experimenting with this, but it's not very common. People can call the ship and leave a message on your room phone if there is an emergency. You can pick up the message when you return to the room.
I tried to add on International calling with my Cingular phone and was told I could not do it because my phone was over 2 years old. According to Cingular they will get reception in the ports (Jamaica and Caymens) but you will have a fee without the International calling plan. The plan is only $5.00 a month and can be added on the month you leave and removed when you get back. Best option is to call them and have them tell you what works best with your plan. Good luck!
My Cingular phone works in those ports no problem. I do stay very current with my phone and updating it to new ones and I work for a company that is based in the UK so I know that international calls are no problem for me. I would call Cingular here in the US before you sail and find out if you need to add something to your plan for a month or have something activated.
As for cells on cruise ships my mom is a travel agent and I read a great article back in January as to how the major cruise lines are in the process of adding cell services to their ships so phones will work at sea. (Naturally there will be a charge.) Guess what company has the contract to install the service on all these ships? Cingular. So if it doesn't work now it should work on cruise ships at sea soon.
Click on the "cruise ships" link under the $2.49 per minute link below to find out which ships your cingular phone will work on. You may need to activate international calling for it to work, Check with Cingular: http://www.cingular.com/customer_service/roaming_gen
What ship were you on? For your phone to work on the ship, it must have been one of the ships that Cingular just outfitted for cell service. Most ships don't have that feature. Did you find the prices to be what they quote on their web site or were there additional fees added on by the ship? Glad it went well for you.