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Using your phone as a hot spot on cruises

Using your phone as a hot spot on cruises

Old Mar 25, 18, 6:46 pm
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Using your phone as a hot spot on cruises

Some cruise companies have rather hefty charges for internet use, even when in port. I realize that when the ship is out of cell phone range the cell phone can't be used as an internet hotspot and I also realize that when the ship is in port one may go to places where there is free internet. However, in general do people find that using their phone as an internet hotspot works wells when the ship is in cell phone range? Also, it seems that cell phone range extends quite a bit from land. Any tips or experiences using your cell phone as a hotspot to work a laptop in your cabin w/o incurring ship internet charges? Any tips for working with a weak cell signal? Thanks.
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Old Mar 25, 18, 7:42 pm
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Sure, you can run off a hotspot, but depending on where you are, the cell signal may not be the best. That will affect both voice and data.
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Old Mar 25, 18, 9:02 pm
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If you mean running a hot spot off the internet package on board and only paying for a single device? I've heard that is blocked on Royal Caribbean somehow, not sure about others. If you're meaning the on board cell service, I have no knowledge regarding that question.
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Old Mar 26, 18, 4:29 am
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I think the FCC might have a problem with a cruise ship blocking access to cell service while docked. Having said that, there are some remarkable cell-service maps for our upcoming Alaska cruise, as if the cruise lines worked with local governments to leave the ports a dead zone.

Guess where the cruise ship docks are. (They are a VZ dead zone in Ketchikan AK.)

Once underway, however, cruise ships don't so much block cell phones but rather capture them, offering cell sites aboard ship that your phone will prefer to use since they have a stronger signal, and therefore provide superior service. Once so captured, it's the cruise line's service (provider) that determines what kind of traffic it'll permit, and how much they'll charge you for it. Best to turn your cellphones to Airplane Mode once the lines holding the ship to shore are dropped, regardless, but yes, that service offers voice service and TXT service, but not data service.


Cruise ships also have been known to attempt to block the use of travel routers connected to their Internet service. Presumably they do this by way of blocking certain ranges of MAC addresses, but it's an imperfect mechanism. My travel router worked perfectly on our recent Caribbean cruise.
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Old Mar 26, 18, 2:01 pm
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I've never had a problem getting a off-shore cell signal on a cruise port or while traveling along a coastline. I've found that the cruiselines turn off their cell service when docked. If one does not automatically find the off-shore signal, then getting into your phone's cell service section and choosing the off-shore signal will solve the problem.
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Old Mar 26, 18, 6:44 pm
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Originally Posted by 747FC View Post
I've never had a problem getting a off-shore cell signal on a cruise port or while traveling along a coastline. I've found that the cruiselines turn off their cell service when docked. If one does not automatically find the off-shore signal, then getting into your phone's cell service section and choosing the off-shore signal will solve the problem.
i also have no issues connecting to shore when close enough. I was talking about blocking the sharing of their wifi packages which may have confused the poster.
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Old Mar 26, 18, 11:46 pm
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As the original poster let me clarify. On a recent Seabourn cruise in the Caribbean I had no problem using my cell phone at Verizon rates almost all of the time when the ship was docked or anchored. I also had a bunch of shipboard credits so the ship's internet was essentially free. However, the ship's internet was slow. And I was using the internet exclusively on my laptop, not my cell phone. The one time I tried to use my cell phone as a hotspot for the laptop on the ship it didn't work for me. Seabourn later advised me to be sure to turn off my cell phone's wifi if I want to use the cell phone as a hot spot and also advised that in certain public areas they may block cell phone access. Looking back, I think they only blocked cell phone access in one or more of their more formal dining rooms.
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Old Mar 27, 18, 2:25 am
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Originally Posted by jonsail View Post
Seabourn later advised me to be sure to turn off my cell phone's wifi if I want to use the cell phone as a hot spot and also advised that in certain public areas they may block cell phone access. Looking back, I think they only blocked cell phone access in one or more of their more formal dining rooms.
Thanks for sharing this. Iím a a Seabourn regular, and didnít know that. It explains why I got No Service indicators when I looked while in the dining room.
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Old May 24, 18, 4:24 pm
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We managed to get through a 7-day transatlantic cruise and only use a few hours of Internet time between us, it's not difficult. Why are you going on a cruise if you're just going to be on the Internet the whole time?
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Old May 25, 18, 4:54 am
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Originally Posted by TribalistMeathead View Post
We managed to get through a 7-day transatlantic cruise and only use a few hours of Internet time between us, it's not difficult. Why are you going on a cruise if you're just going to be on the Internet the whole time?
Gosh I'm sure there is something between "a few hours" and "the whole time" when considering a 7 day period.

Having said that, when I see people talking about using the Internet on their cruise, many of them are talking about enhancing the cruise experience by way of Internet use, not "being on the Internet".

First, many of them are using this first block of truly free time that they've had for months, a sea day, for researching the city they're going to visit the next day. If you really want to know (for example) where to shop in Nassau, don't rely on the cruise director or the first local you encounter when you get off the ship. Rather, research it online, in communities that offer information you can trust because there's no vested interest.

Second, and more commonly, many of them are talking about sharing the highlights of their vacation with friends at home, in the moment. After months of sharing their Starbucks coffee, what the appetizers look like at the local pub, and the cute family of deer encountered on a local hike, how could people not share a whale sighting, the view from the top of a glacier, and the lumberjacks climbing a spar pole?

This might be a bit generational. I know a lot of people in my generation who are very insular and judgmental, and never came to understand the new, modern sociability that the Internet fosters and that is practiced by many in the younger generations. They will never really understand why anyone would pay for Internet service aboard ship.

I can readily see a person using 8 hours of Internet time while aboard ship, on a 7 day cruise, maybe more. Holland America selling packages in increments of 100 minutes, 250 minutes, 500 minutes, and 1000 minutes. I bet most people buying the 100 minutes for anything other than "just in case" (i.e., no real intention to actually use it every day) end up shocked when the get the "time's up" message before the end of the cruise. 100 minutes goes fast, especially since you pay for the whole time you're logged in, regardless if you're actually uploading or downloading any data, and especially since the Internet service aboard ship is so much slower than most people think it will be.

I think 250 minutes perhaps will serve for those who are just "researching". They will probably use it up though, so I can see people choosing 500 minutes "just to be safe". Those who are "sharing" their vacation with friends at home will feel constrained by even 1000 minutes, I bet, as slow as the uploading and downloading is aboard ship.
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Old May 25, 18, 5:54 am
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Just off a tatl HA cruise. They, like most cruise cos, they block using voice or streaming video on their internet service. Though HA did offer an ďupgradeĒ

We got an ATT cruise package which had a set price for entire cruise. This utilized the ships cell service. When I needed internet, just used data roaming, and when needed on our ipad, enabled hotspot. While pricey at $100 for the cruise (18 days), as itís a cell signal, didnít have to worry about the insecurity of the public (but paid) wi-fi.

On this same trip, In spite of warnings, my spouse did use the public wifi at St Regis in Maldives, and got her SPG account hacked.
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Old May 25, 18, 9:59 am
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Originally Posted by bicker View Post
Gosh I'm sure there is something between "a few hours" and "the whole time" when considering a 7 day period.

Having said that, when I see people talking about using the Internet on their cruise, many of them are talking about enhancing the cruise experience by way of Internet use, not "being on the Internet".

First, many of them are using this first block of truly free time that they've had for months, a sea day, for researching the city they're going to visit the next day. If you really want to know (for example) where to shop in Nassau, don't rely on the cruise director or the first local you encounter when you get off the ship. Rather, research it online, in communities that offer information you can trust because there's no vested interest.

Second, and more commonly, many of them are talking about sharing the highlights of their vacation with friends at home, in the moment. After months of sharing their Starbucks coffee, what the appetizers look like at the local pub, and the cute family of deer encountered on a local hike, how could people not share a whale sighting, the view from the top of a glacier, and the lumberjacks climbing a spar pole?

This might be a bit generational. I know a lot of people in my generation who are very insular and judgmental, and never came to understand the new, modern sociability that the Internet fosters and that is practiced by many in the younger generations. They will never really understand why anyone would pay for Internet service aboard ship.

I can readily see a person using 8 hours of Internet time while aboard ship, on a 7 day cruise, maybe more. Holland America selling packages in increments of 100 minutes, 250 minutes, 500 minutes, and 1000 minutes. I bet most people buying the 100 minutes for anything other than "just in case" (i.e., no real intention to actually use it every day) end up shocked when the get the "time's up" message before the end of the cruise. 100 minutes goes fast, especially since you pay for the whole time you're logged in, regardless if you're actually uploading or downloading any data, and especially since the Internet service aboard ship is so much slower than most people think it will be.

I think 250 minutes perhaps will serve for those who are just "researching". They will probably use it up though, so I can see people choosing 500 minutes "just to be safe". Those who are "sharing" their vacation with friends at home will feel constrained by even 1000 minutes, I bet, as slow as the uploading and downloading is aboard ship.
I guess my question is "why are you spending so much time on the Internet that you need to consider the cost-effectiveness of using your phone as a hotspot vs. ship's wifi?" You won't need to if you do your research ahead of time and print it out, or make it available on a computer or tablet onboard; type out your emails while offline and only connect to wifi to send them; and save the social media for your arrival.
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Old May 25, 18, 1:36 pm
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Originally Posted by TribalistMeathead View Post
I guess my question is "why are you spending so much time on the Internet that you need to consider the cost-effectiveness of using your phone as a hotspot vs. ship's wifi?"
Which was the question which I answered in the message to which this is a reply. Perhaps you need to refresh your screen to see the entire message to which you replied?

Originally Posted by TribalistMeathead View Post
You won't need to if you do your research ahead of time and print it out, or make it available on a computer or tablet onboard; type out your emails while offline and only connect to wifi to send them;
It sure does seem as if you have missed a great deal of the message to which you posted a reply.
Originally Posted by bicker View Post
First, many of them are using this first block of truly free time that they've had for months, a sea day, ...
Originally Posted by TribalistMeathead View Post
and save the social media for your arrival.
Again, this was covered in the message to which you replied:
Originally Posted by TribalistMeathead View Post
Second, and more commonly, many of them are talking about sharing the highlights of their vacation with friends at home, in the moment. After months of sharing their Starbucks coffee, what the appetizers look like at the local pub, and the cute family of deer encountered on a local hike, how could people not share a whale sighting, the view from the top of a glacier, and the lumberjacks climbing a spar pole?

This might be a bit generational. I know a lot of people in my generation who are very insular and judgmental, and never came to understand the new, modern sociability that the Internet fosters and that is practiced by many in the younger generations. They will never really understand why anyone would pay for Internet service aboard ship.
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Old May 27, 18, 1:07 am
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As a non-retired lawyer who enjoys cruising, the internet lets me keep in touch with my clients and with my partners who are filling in for me while I am on vacation. Not everyone on a cruise is able to avoid or postpone all work obligations until the end of the cruise. By doing some work on vacations I can take more vacations and pay the credit card charges for my travel.
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Old May 29, 18, 6:32 am
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Originally Posted by jonsail View Post
However, in general do people find that using their phone as an internet hotspot works wells when the ship is in cell phone range? Also, it seems that cell phone range extends quite a bit from land. Any tips or experiences using your cell phone as a hotspot to work a laptop in your cabin w/o incurring ship internet charges? Any tips for working with a weak cell signal? Thanks.
Yes. We use a T Mo ipad mini as a hotspot in port for email and stuff, and a project Fi Moto X4 if we need speed in port. The travel tech part of Flyertalk might help with some info. https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-technology-169/

I am not sure how to improve a signal using a phone hotspot in a cabin. It seems in my experimentation that the metal structure of the ship will block cell signals depending on where the tower is. There are apps that will help you locate the antenna. When the signal looks blocked, I typically put the phone/ipad on the veranda...

The most amazing phone hotspot use for us was in the Beagle Channel many miles from Ushuaia.
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