If you are aboard a huge cruise ship, you need to have your cell phone as your means of communication just in case you or someone in your family gets lost. But is it expensive to call your family members or friends on a cruise ship? Or is there a way you can text on a cruise ship for free?
How to text on a cruise ship for free? Most cruise ships today have “Cellular at Sea” or “Wireless Maritime Services” that they use to give cell signals to their passengers and crew members. You can connect to the cellular service or WiFi of the ship and then send a text message or an SMS through the internet for free.
Read on to learn more about how to text on a cruise ship for free including the free texting apps for each major cruise line.
How to Text on a Cruise Ship for Free?
When on a cruise ship, there are no cell towers that can receive and transmit signals. These cell towers are only built inland and some near the shores. Stronger signals are provided by some cell towers that can reach up to 30 to 45 miles. While you are departing or coming to a port of call on your cruise, you will have no problems if you want to send a message through your cell phone.
When your ship is already out at sea, and when it is already cruising towards its destinations, you can still use your phone for sending and receiving text messages. Here are some ways you can do this for free.
1. Check If International Coverage Is Provided by Your Carrier
Most smartphones today are able to function anywhere you go. But it is still better to check if your carrier provides its services even in other countries. You can check this information on their websites. If they provide this service, then you can use your cellphone in other countries that are included in the list.
Also, check if they provide service in the destinations that the cruise ship is going. Be sure that their service includes texting. A majority of carriers provide these types of messaging services. In most cases, you don’t have to buy new plans or even change anything on your mobile device.
However, if you find out that your carrier does not provide this service in the ship’s ports of call, look for another carrier that allows you to text for free while you are on board a cruise ship.
2. Use FaceTime on the ship’s WiFi
Most cruise ships today provide internet and WiFi services to their guests. You can use their services on FaceTime, where you can send iMessages. If the cruise ship provides free internet services, you can use this service for free.
3. Use Ship Mate
When on a cruise ship, you need a mobile cruise app that allows you to text for free. A good mobile cruise app that you can download is Ship Mate. This app enables its users to send direct messages in place of sending text messages.
Currently, this app has over 2,000,000 downloads. This app has a lot of useful features, which include cruise countdowns, reviews, tips, and roll calls. But its biggest function is that you can use it while you are offline. However, you need a WiFi network to use its direct messaging features.
Here is how this app works. Once you have typed in the cruise ship’s sailing details, you will get access to deck plans, details about the ports of call, dining information, and onboard entertainment options. This app can work on both iOS and Android devices.
How to Avoid Cell Phone Charges While On Board a Cruise Ship
As soon as the cruise ship sails, you can switch your phone to roaming mode to stay connected. However, you will be charged by your carrier a huge amount for this service. You can avoid these hefty charges by turning your device to airplane mode. If you do this, all your wireless connections will be turned off until you turn them on again.
If you still want to use your mobile device, just use the internet services that the cruise ship provides. To log in to the ship’s WiFi network, you need to reactivate your wireless connection. As soon as you are logged in, open your browser, and the process will be complete. Now, through the ship’s WiFi, you can send and receive text messages for free.
If it is not possible to entirely avoid the charges, you can reduce them by using the WiFi services at the ports of call. Be aware that if you don’t resort to this method, your charges might accumulate without you knowing it.
WiFi Spots on the Ship’s Ports of Call
It is possible not to spend any amount on your text messages while you are on a cruise. You can do this if you will check and look for WiFi spots on the ship’s ports of call. There should be some cafes, restaurants, or hotels that provide free internet to their guests. Some beaches in your destinations may also provide free internet services.
Cruise ships usually dock in their ports of call for at least a few hours. You could also take advantage of these time windows by checking on your email, get the latest news, post photos and chat on social media, or update your family about your trip.
There are several apps that you can download and install on your device that will enable you to send or receive text messages. These include Facebook Messenger, Android Messages, WhatsApp, EvolveSMS, and Viber. However, be careful when accessing these public WiFi spots. Don’t use any sensitive personal information that might be accessed by thieves and hackers.
What Mobile Apps Can You Use and What Cruise Lines Allow Them?
Cruise liners want their guests to enjoy the cruise fully. For this reason, they offer a lot of treats that will make their guests happy while onboard. They are encouraging their guests to use mobile apps to stay connected with different social groups. Here are some of the texting apps that cruise liners offer their guests:
1. Royal iQ
The Royal iQ app can be used exclusively for texting and calling when you are onboard several Royal Caribbean Cruise ships. These liners include the Ovation of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, and Quantum of the Seas.
Royal iQ can be used to text or call someone on board the same ship. You can download this app for free and use it with the Royal iQ Communications Package, which charges a small fee per device.
2. Carnival Hub
If you are traveling on a Carnival Cruise ship, you can use Carnival Hub. This app is available for a small one-time activation fee. You can use this app to chat and stay connected with your family and friends aboard the same Carnival cruiser.
The recipients of your messages should also have this app to be able to communicate with you. You don’t need a separate internet package to use this app, and it is functional on any Carnival Cruise ship.
Passengers of Norwegian Cruise ships also have the option to use an app to stay connected with their social group on board the same ship. This app is iConcierge, where texting and calling others onboard the same ship is possible. With this cruise ship app, you don’t need the roaming service of a service provider to communicate with others.
iConcierge enables calling and texting by piggybacking on the WiFi system of the ship. You need to download the app on your device and then pay a small fee to activate it. The app also has other features that are useful to travelers, such as shore excursions, shows, and restaurant reservations.
Passengers can use this app in Norwegian Cruisers, such as Pride of America, Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Epic, and Norwegian Breakaway.
4. Holland America Line Navigator
Holland America Line Navigator can also be used for passengers to communicate with others on board the same ship. Aside from texting and calling, you can also use it for checking daily schedule, monitoring onboard account, viewing and purchasing photos, booking dining, shore excursions, and spa treatments.
This communication service is available on all ships of Holland America Line. If your device is WiFi enabled, you can use this service for free.
5. MSC Traveller Web
If you are taking one of the MSC Cruises, you can take advantage of their MSC Traveller Web. It is a web-based communication service for free and has app-like functions. For it to work, your device should be connected to the MSC intranet. There is no need for you to buy an internet package. This web app can be accessed through MSC Preziosa, MSC Magnifica, and MSC Divina.
6. Disney Cruise Line Navigator
Disney Cruise Line has a communication app that can be used on all its cruise ships for free texting. This app is connected to the WiFi network of the ship. Guests are not charged anything if they use this app to communicate with other people on the same ship.
Disney also announced in October last year that it will give complimentary texting to all its crew members onboard its cruisers. The company said this is done so that their workers can stay connected with their families while they are working away from home.
Disney also said that it is the only cruise ship that offers this kind of benefit to their crew members. With this service, Disney crew members with Android and iOS mobile devices will be able to send and receive text messages to their family and friends for free. They can also use this app to communicate with the guests of the ship.
7. Princess@Sea Messenger
Princess Cruises also offer their guests an app that they can use for texting and calling. This web-based app is called Princess@Sea. To use this cruise ship app, you will need an internet package to be able to communicate with others on the same ship. The WiFi network of the ship will carry your messages via your cell phone.
Other Tips When Using Your Phone On Board
1. Don’t Leave Your Device Accessories
You will be able to fully enjoy free texting on board a cruise ship if you bring along the essential accessories that will make your smartphone fully functional. Of course, you can buy these accessories at the many shops onboard the cruise ship. But that is an unnecessary expense, especially since you are aiming to get free text services.
So, don’t forget to pack your chargers, earphones, power cords, extra batteries, and so forth. Since you will be spending lots of time near the water, bring along a waterproof case for your smartphone as well as some of your accessories. Doing so will prevent water from damaging your phone.
2. Call Only When It Is Really Important
You are not prohibited from using your smartphone to call others. But since calling people onboard a cruise ship is a bit expensive, limit your calls to the really important ones, like if there is an emergency and you need to have someone attend to your needs at once.
In other words, be prepared to call if there really is a necessity. Otherwise, limit yourself to sending your message through texting using the WiFi services provided by the ship.
Conclusion – How to Text on a Cruise Ship for Free?
So yes, you can definitely text a friend or a family member onboard the same cruise ship for free. In fact, there are several ways to receive and send text messages for free.
To revisit our initial question: How to text on a cruise ship for free? A majority of modern cruise ships have “Wireless Maritime Services” or “Cellular at Sea” that they use to provide cell signals to their guests and their crew. You can connect to the WiFi or cellular service of the ship and then send a text message or an SMS through the internet for free.