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Apologies for this not being a "Europe" question, but I thought this was a better place to post than the beyond Europe thread.
I am going on an Alaskan cruise out of Vancouver, up to Glacier National Park and back. I can use my phone in Canada, no problem ($5/day travel pass).
1. Verizon has no cell coverage along the Alaskan coast or in any of the ports we are visiting. Will my phone roam to another network?
2. The maritime cellular connection is available once 12 nautical miles from land. I may never be that far from land on this cruise, so will there be no cell service at all?
3. Holland America has pay by the minute wifi plans. I will purchase 500 or 1,000 minutes. I can use wifi calling to call home when on the ship or nearby enough to use the ship's wifi. Do I have to disconnect in between times to prevent my phone apps from using up the wifi minutes? Is there anyway to ensure that my kids can reach me in real time if needed?


Posted by
2467 posts

Just turn your phone off when you aren't using the WiFi. Or, if you want to use it for other things, leave it in airplane mode and only turn on WiFi when you need it.

For real emergencies, every cruise line has an emergency contact number for each ship. It's very expensive, since it uses satellites, something like $10/min. Your cruiseline website should have the number (or call them if you can't find it). Always good to leave this with someone you trust in case of an emergency at home. If they call that number, it would come through on your cabin phone. If you aren't in the room, they would leave a voice mail.

We stay away from phone calls, texts and Internet when we cruise. The only exception is a quick email session when we're in port and can use free WiFi at a bar or restaurant.

Posted by
103 posts

It's been years since my cruise (on Holland America) so things may have changed, but back then when they gave the emergency satellite phone number for the ship they warned that callers would need to have a credit card to pay for the call.

Posted by
3321 posts

While at sea, in all probability you'll piggyback on the ship's cell connection which will involve roaming and is expensive. In port you'll probably also be roaming. You might try posting this on the Cruise Critic Forum for Holland America.

We've found that if you call Verizon's regular number or go into a retail location and ask about such matters you will probably leave very confused -- ask the same question of three people and you'll get four answers. However, Verizon does have a dedicated Global Customer Service Department and the people there are very knowledgeable, helpful, and they will know the ins, outs, and capabilities of your phone and have accurate information about the cruise ship you will using. Give them a call and see if they can help. Number is 1-800-711-8300.

Posted by
694 posts

Thanks for your responses.
The Verizon guy couldn't help because there is no Verizon coverage in this area of Alaska and he didn't understand paying for wifi by the minute.
I called Holland America and the plans have changed to pay by the day, so that is good. But that guy didn't know if the maritime signal would be available on the inside passage (not 12 miles from land).
I will try to call ships services on Monday and see what they can say.

I understand that a lot of folks disconnect while on a cruise, but I am addicted to people I care about being able to reach me. Better than some other addictions I guess. : )

Posted by
6811 posts

You should ask on the HAL forum on Cruise Critic to be sure about your particular ship, but generally the ships’ wifi signals are too weak for phone calls. We were on a HAL ship in January and made calls to an elderly relative we are concerned about only when in port. Since I have a Google Fi phone it picked up the local cell signal everywhere. You’ll find out about yours and I hope you can communicate in port if you are concerned about your children.

However, I never saw anyone making a call or ever heard a phone ring the whole time we were at sea—thank goodness! Hadn’t thought about it until now answering your question, but there really were no phones, no overheard conversations, no one glued to a screen. I think you are going to like it! Edit: See you are addicted— believe me, you’ll find other addictions on the ship that are just as satisfying! Think of all the news you’ll be able to catch up on later. Have fun.

Posted by
694 posts

I have started a thread on Cruisecritic and will call HAL tomorrow and ask some questions.
Will come back and post if I learn anything new.

Posted by
694 posts

I am back to tell you what happened.
I turned on wi-fi calling on my smart phone: Pixel
I bought the most expensive wifi package on the ship that allowed streaming. I think it was $139. They changed their plans recently to different strengths (email only, social media only, streaming). I didn't have to pay that because our travel agent put money in our on board account and we didn't even use it all, plus I won $400 at bingo.
The wi-fi was a little aggravating because you had to reconnect every so often.
I could call home and send and receive texts, fairly seamlessly. Occasional lost connection or delay.
I could also use my Verizon cell connection at the ports even though Verizon told me that there was no coverage there.

So, for those of you that want to travel and stay in touch with home, this method works well.

Posted by
694 posts

Hi Ken,
So, I am not a fan of cruises in general. The trip was for Mom's 80th birthday. She did not have a good time (tired, grumpy)
However, here are the positives: Loved loved loved Glacier Bay National Park and the train ride up the pass in Skagway. Overall scenery was fantastic. Holland America, ship was nice, food was very good.

Posted by
2336 posts

We cruised a lot when our kids were small. Our middle daughter has a disability and it was just right. Our last cruise was well over 15 years ago and was a disaster. It was a Carnival cruise and we would never do that again. Fast forward, we decided we needed a romantic week away, just the two of us, and booked an Alaska cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. We have been to Alaska twice and done the excursions so we thought we’d do this differently and spend the money on spa treatments and the like. Well, what a great trip! The ship was magnificent. We booked an Aqua Class stateroom. It has a veranda, a fancy shower, It includes spa access at no charge (services are of course extra) and has a private dining room that offers some healthy choices. We got the premium beverage package. Our days were spent watching the beautiful scenery, working out in the very well equipped gym, the spa treatments (run by Canyon Ranch) lounging by the indoor pool. And, we made a great decision-we did not get the Internet package! We were off the grid except the very few times we disembarked and went to a coffee shop. So liberating! The Port of Seattle has a great service. Two days before disembarkation we filled out a form with our flights. The night before disembarkation we received our luggage tags and boarding passes. The bags went out in the hallway (we kept a small bag with a change of clothes, toiletries) and the next time we saw them was on the luggage carousel at our home airport. We loved our cruise! Yes, we are doing a RS tour this summer but looking at a repeat Alaska cruise probably 2020 and on a Celebrity Solstice class ship for sure.

Posted by
1070 posts

Here's another random input 're cell phones and cruise ships.....years ago I did a trip w my mom from new york city, we worked our way up the eastern seaboard, cities were pretty close together (second day was Boston) so we went just far enough east each night that my phone kept going into the next time zone......not real helpful as I was trying to use it as my alarm clock :)