Cruise roaming

  • 31 May 2019
  • 4 replies


Are we only charged if we use the services when connected to a cruise ship's cell tower? The cruise ship I'm on (Carnival Sunrise, previously known as the Carnival Triumph) has no data at least under the old Triumph name. I don't plan on enabling mobile data, make outgoing calls or send outbound text messages. I also have unconditional call forwarding enabled so all calls goes to voicemail immediately. As a safety precaution, I also went into my T-Mobile account and blocked all international charged roaming. If I leave airplane mode OFF (disabled), will I be charged any roaming fees if I just have my cell radio on and it's connected to the only tower available which is on the ship?

Just want to clarify how roaming works. I assume connecting to the antenna itself is not the reason for roaming fees but the actual services used.



Best answer by Anonymous 31 May 2019, 11:36

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4 replies

If you turn off data roaming and unconditionally forward all incoming calls somewhere else (e.g. voicemail) you should not incur any charges from the ship's cellular system. You should be able to receive incoming SMS for free. MMS may incur data charges but with data roaming turned off I don't think you'll get the full MMS. Just to be safe, turn off auto delivery of MMS.

The best way to be 100% safe is to put the phone into airplane mode whenever your within 100 feet of the ship.

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Cruise ships are a plague of deceipt.  Just connecting to a cruise ship tower can incur you a crapton of b/s charges fornusage you don't even use.  Because these towers are privately owned and subsequently bill T-Mobile and other carriers for a customers usage.  The vast majority of the time, these compamies see it as a free pass to bill carriers for large sums.  When within 2 miles of a cruise ship, it is highly recmended to put your device in airplane mode.

If you have purchased or if your vacation includes the onboard WiFi package, I would recommend trying to enable WiFi Calling on your device.  Some cruise ship companies do block WiFi Calling though.

@syaoran​ probably has more recent cruise ship experience than I do, so the paranoia is probably based in fact.  Some international roaming partners go to great lengths to generate revenue from roamers, some techniques border on fraud. One is to represent the roamer as still registered on the network after they have turned their phone off. This means that unconnected calls are charged round-trip tolls when you have your phone turned off. Unconditional forwarding defeats this.

Also, in the old days you could be pretty sure when your phone was connecting to cellular data because it only did on command. Today, phones do all sorts of stuff in the background. One thing's for sure, if I took kids on a cruise ship I'd collect up all their cell phones before stepping onboard the ship and not return them until we were on shore, some distance away.

Thanks for all the replies. I panicked for a short while when I forgot to turn on airplane mode after getting back on from one of the ports where roaming was free. I figure it should be fine since there's no data available on the ship (besides Wi-Fi) and I didn't make any phone calls or text messages.