They say worse things happen at sea – and that can certainly be true where phone bills are concerned, as one cruise passenger found out.
Molly Saxton, 24, revealed that her monthly phone bill soared by 3,290 per cent after she went on a cruise around the Caribbean and left her phone in roaming mode – without having purchased the correct roaming bundle.
Mobile phone retailer Fonehouse is now warning cruisegoers of the perils of unintentionally connecting to a ‘maritime’ network or a neighbouring country without having the appropriate roaming bundle.
Sheffield native Molly told Fonehouse: ‘Before the holiday, I made sure to pay for a data and text bundle to make keeping in touch with people on the cruise cheaper. I had a feeling that I’d exceeded these but didn’t worry too much as I expected my phone provider to place a cap on spending, or at least notify me if I was running the risk of using too much.’
Molly was using the phone to keep in touch with her now-husband via social media and texting while on the family holiday. She says: ‘You can imagine my shock when I saw that my usual monthly phone bill of between £30 to £35 ended up being £1186.59!
Sheffield native Molly Saxton (not pictured) revealed that her monthly phone bill soared by 3,290 per cent after she went on a cruise around the Caribbean and left her phone in roaming mode – without having purchased the correct roaming bundle
‘Whilst I expected a slightly larger phone bill due to using it abroad, I didn’t for one minute think that it would be anywhere near £1,000 – I could have gone on another holiday with that money.
‘The high costs were down to excess use of the data and text bundle as well as accidental roaming whilst at sea. I had no idea that your phone could automatically connect to maritime roaming in this way, neither did my friends or family.
Molly adds: ‘Thankfully, my phone company did agree to half the bill after speaking with them.’
How can high holiday bills be avoided? Experts at Fonehouse suggest that before you travel, you contact your mobile provider to see if it has any travel bundles for customers going on a cruise.
Above are two of Molly’s holiday snaps from her Caribbean cruise. She says: ‘You can imagine my shock when I saw that my usual monthly phone bill of between £30 to £35 ended up being £1186.59!’
Certain networks, such as U.S networks AT&T and Verizon, offer ‘Cellular at Sea’ packages that kick in once the vessel is 12 nautical miles (22km) from land.
More common, however, are roaming packages that cover using data and making phone calls while the ship is docked at port, but not while you’re at sea.
Why? This is because international roaming charges from land-based cellular devices cost considerably less than those from maritime networks.
Experts at The Points Guy explain: ‘Once you’ve drifted away from the nearest land-based cell tower… your phone will go into roaming mode. That’s when hefty charges can start to accrue. We’re not talking about your average international roaming charges, but extra-expensive satellite roaming charges.
‘Surfing the internet, using social media, reading emails or checking the weather will all use data charged at a premium rate. Phone calls and messages, regardless if they are incoming or outgoing, will also be charged at a premium.’
Experts at Fonehouse suggest that before you travel, you contact your mobile provider to see if they have any travel bundles for customers going on a cruise
If you don’t have a roaming bundle that covers using your data at sea, it’s imperative you switch your phone to airplane mode, switch off your mobile data or switch your phone off altogether to avoid incurring charges.
If your roaming is left on, even if you’re not using your device, you could be charged extra, as apps can still be running in the background without you realising.
To use the internet on your trip, connect to the cruise ship’s Wi-Fi. To do this, you will have to purchase an internet pass from the cruise line, Fonehouse reveals.
The quality of cruise ship Wi-Fi varies depending on the cruise line you’re travelling with. As a result, anything that requires a fast internet speed – such as downloading films or music – should be done prior to your trip.
Reflecting on her experience, Molly reveals: ‘I’ve learnt a lesson from this. Now when I go on holiday, I really limit my phone use, and will only really use it when I know I can connect to Wi-Fi in bars, restaurants or hotels.’