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Communicating with fellow travelers

I’m going on a cruise Greece to Venice with friends. What’s the best way to communicate with them? We all have different phones with different providers and will not be using data. Is there anything reliable? Thinking about individuals and possibly a group text type as well. If we’re out and about and want to share things it’s been challenging in the past.

Posted by
3925 posts

Whatsapp. You can create a group chat and everyone will be able to see what's been posted and can add tjeir own posts. Friends and I use it all the time when we're travelling. If you don't want to use data then you'll have to confine it to those occasions when you can use wi-fi. It's going to be a challenge if you don't want to use data.

Posted by
1493 posts

Hi ad,

There is WhatsApp (popular in Europe)

Also there is Skype.

All parties need to download one or the other. I have both installed on my phone.

Of course you'll need Internet (or data) connection when out and about.

  • Free
  • Easy to use
  • Messaging
  • Video talk

Check out both to see what meets your needs and your friends' needs.

Posted by
256 posts

Depending on provider...I have found it much each easier to add an International Day Passport plan for my phone...I have AT&T. It uses my own data/voice plan and is $10 per 24 hr period.

Posted by
2687 posts

Is it for onboard or in port? Do you want to expend the crazy wifi costs onboard, or does your cruise line have affordable wifi or a free wifi package?

I would also ask on CruiseCritic - the cruising forum - particularly for your cruise line and even your ship as other cruisers will know what the cruise line is offering for onboard communication. Sometimes, Post Its or a white board on a cabin door is as good as it gets.

Posted by
6147 posts

How about the old school way...face-to-face during meals or drinks? Why make this costly and complicated?

Posted by
2310 posts

If you are out and about it’s going to be tough without an international plan, and those are expensive. WiFi on the ship is ridiculously priced and unreliable. Seeking out WiFi on land to use WhatsApp can be a challenge. Maybe get the sort of international plan you pay for only on the days you use it (I think all the carriers have a variation of this) and agree that this is for urgent issues only. Plan your logistics, where and when to meet for this and that, and have fun!

Posted by
690 posts

This can be a real issue because we are very accustomed to easy communication in our daily life. I have a made a career choice that requires me to be reachable even when I am on vacation. Because I am used to being "on call" 24/7 I am sort of addicted to it. I also personally require myself to be always available to my family (3 generations). This is sometimes criticized by those with a different philosophy, but it doesn't have anything to do with others, it is my choice. Because I value it so much, I am willing to pay for it.

When in Europe I use Verizon's $10 a day plan. Anytime you use cellular data, you are charged $10 for the next 24 hours. You can use your phone and data just like at home. I always do that, so my choice of staying connected costs me $210 for a 3 week trip. Worth it to me.

I went on an Alaskan cruise last year. I paid for the ships week long wifi package. I don't even remember how much it was, so again worth it to me. My sister has a similar philosophy about her job as I do, so we kept in touch via email. To call home, I used wifi calling. It wasn't 100% reliable, but worked well enough.

So an answer to your question is--look at available options including wifi only communication on land and at sea, or using wifi at sea (or not) and data on land. Do a poll and see if everyone is in agreement. Communication is definitely going to cost you on this trip. Have a great time!

Posted by
485 posts

Definitely WhatsApp, used it in both Europe and the Far East last year worked like a charm. Just make sure everyone has wi-fi and possibly an international plan, especially when you are ashore.

Posted by
1140 posts

Compare the app GroupMe for an alternative choice to WhatsApp.
Especially if there's a mix of device types involved.

Posted by
1168 posts

You could also just text each other. It works for individuals or groups. Text (SMS) is different than MMS, which uses data. An SMS text usually around $0.25 per message for international. It does not count against your data usage. SMS is plain text, limit 160 characters, and has no pictures or videos. But it gets the job done.

One advantage of text is that it is the last to fail under weak cellular systems. It does, however, still use cellular data so won’t work at sea.

I’m assuming you’re using this for offshore excursions.

You should also have an agreeed upon place to meet in case of separation.

Posted by
3925 posts

When in Europe I use Verizon's $10 a day plan. Anytime you use cellular data, you are charged $10 for the next 24 hours.

I can't believe there's not a better alternative for Americans. I can use my phone in over 70 countries with data and calls coming out of my monthly allowance as if I were at home. As a family we travel to the US and use our phones without punitive charges, the kids will even stream Youtube for seemingly ever!

Posted by
1168 posts

I can't believe there's not a better alternative for Americans.

There is. T-Mobile has unlimited data for international travel. It’s 3G but usable.

The big problem is coverage in the US. ATT and Verizon have better coverage in rural areas (sometimes the only coverage) so the user is left to making a hard choice. Do you optimize your domestic coverage or your international one?

The US has large chunks of “empty” rural areas that Europe does not have. I suspect your data access in the US was done in population centers, yes?

Posted by
5637 posts

We always get Verizon's $70 for a month of texts and calls on one phone. We get a SIM card for the other phone with a local European number.

Posted by
6752 posts

I can't believe there's not a better alternative for Americans.

There is: Google Fi. I pay $30 a month and can use the phone, text, data--so far anywhere in the world for the one price--except Cuba. There I had to buy a wifi card like everyone else.

Once someone starts with a carrier, they have to get hopping mad at it before they change, but it's true that people in the States are really getting screwed over by these telecom companies compared to elsewhere.

Posted by
3925 posts

The US has large chunks of “empty” rural areas that Europe does not have. I suspect your data access in the US was done in population centers, yes?

Of course there are chunks of "empty" rural areas in Europe where there is little or no phone coverage. One only has to go to certain parts of Cornwall to experience this.

Yes, much of my data access when visiting the US was in densely populated areas but expectedly scarce in many of the national parks but where's the relevance? Most American tourists are going to be visiting the big cities and well populated areas where phone coverage is strong, this doesn't answer why the big American players are ripping off their customers by charging $10 per day for overseas data usage when evidently it can be provided at a much lower cost to them.

Posted by
1097 posts

The last trip to the UK and France (2018) we signed up for $40/month with AT&T, if I remember the price correctly. They used to promote it but I had to get on their chat room last time to get it. Hopefully it's still available but you know how that might be a thing of the past if they can get $10/day, and they did have that option available as well.

Posted by
3133 posts

Curious, what did you all do before smart phones when you needed to communicate? When I travelled with friends or with my parents and siblings, the usual MO was to agree to meet at a certain place and time whether it were at lunch time or the end of the day. Then we had the time of our lives. It doesn't have to be challenging. :-)

Posted by
6132 posts

I’m going on a cruise Greece to Venice with friends. What’s the best way to communicate with them?

In whatever your common language is.

I am a bit confounded by the question. If you are on a cruise with friends why is there a 'technology' question on how to communicate?

Posted by
37 posts

Ooh, that's pretty difficult if you don't have data. You'll have to resort to text... or setting a certain time and place where you'll meet each other. Just like old times. Probably a good experience for everyone :)

Posted by
1168 posts

@JC - I must not have clarified what I was saying.

If you live in a rural area of the US you may only have the choice of ONE provider for your cell phone coverage. That provider is usually Verizon or ATT. Those companies have horrible
International plans. So the rural living traveler is stuck with expensive fees.

If you live in the city you have the choice of several providers. Then you can choose a good plan for travel.

This situation has been a huge source of controversy lately. FCC chair Ajit Pai has basically given rural telecom providers a monopoly.