I am reading a description of the Freedom of the Seas, which we will be on next March (Yeah!). Anyway, it says "Extensive WiFi capabilities and connectivity for cell phones will also be available, as well as flat screens..." Does this mean we will be able to keep in touch with our kids (who are on the ship with us) via cell phones? Do we need to contact our cell phone carrier to "add" anything to our cell phone package - once again, I am NOT worried about calling back to the states - I just would love to be able to keep in touch with my kids when they are at the sports court, etc.
The bill will be quite large. Each of your phones will have roaming charges and surcharges. We talk to each other on the ship ourselves, but just be prepared for bill shock when you open your monthly invoice.
We feel that it's a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Be careful with your cell phone use. The company that runs the cell service on the ships has agreements with the land based cell carriers. Look here for details. That website will also help you determine the cost but you are normally charged international roaming rates already agreed by your contract. For Verizon it was $2.50 a minute for voice use and I think it was 25 cents a text (it might have been 50 cents.) Your unlimited texts don't apply.
MAKE VERY VERY VERY SURE that your childern know that they can't use the cell phone as if back home as it will act just like it does at home and any of their friends sending texts will find their way to their phones. The way kids text each other now, you could be looking at huge charges even at 25 cents a text.
We used our phone for one quick call home and then used a couple of texts to synchronize email contact. I would say you do NOT want to plan on using the cell phones as a mean to keep in touch with them as that could get pricey if their friends should start sending them messages and the phones are on.
When you take away the cabins and dining rooms, there aren't that many places your children can roam. Make sure they know NOT to go into any cabin with anyone, and set up scheduled times to meet or at least walk by. The ships are big, however, you can find someone when you need to.
If you are taking your cell on the boat, it should be for ABSOLUTE emergency purposes only. I would leave it OFF and in the safe in your room. Keep in mind that even if you choose not to use the phone, but keep it on, every incoming message will be another charge. I contacted T-Mobile regarding my next cruise. I was told that cruise ships have their own cell towers onboard and will charge $4.99/minute just for the convenience of connectivity, IN ADDITION to any roaming charges that would normally apply.
I was also told that normally my phone would work in Puerto Rico at no additional charge. HOWEVER... as soon as my cell phone recognizes RCI's cell tower and vice versa, the connection sticks. Even while in port, I would still be subject to the $4.99/minute charge.
Also, keep in mind that kids may not understand this concept... my teenage cousin racked up a $1500 bill just texting on her cruise because she thought it was unlimited.
Definitely contact your cell phone provider and ask VERY specific questions. I would not have known about the charges while in port if I hadn't specifically asked that... the customer service rep had to ask her manager for the answer to my question. I would also get whatever they tell you in writing just to cover yourself.
Dave, I would keep my Blackberry off if I were you. You could get burned for unbelievable charges. Please do as Krs1300 said and contact your provider. But remember, you're on vacation. If you just have to check emails, use the computers on board and purchase a package. It'll be less expensive that way.
Yes Dave, if your Blackberry is on and can find service it will "connect" then the per minute charges will start ticking. I can't imagine how many people left their BlackBerry or iPhone on while on the ship not realizing that that are being charged per minute.
If you need to check you email, turn it on and download/send messages and then turn it off (if you can turn the radio on/off like you do for airplane use, that will work instead of turning off the phone)