Cruising and cell phones don’t mix PSA

For those that have been on cruises before you either know this or have learned this but….cell phones and cruise ships don’t always mix. This is for a variety of reasons. Cruise ships are fancy floating hotels. It’s awesome because you don’t have to unpack more than once and when you wake up each morning you are at a new destination. It’s like a dream.
In reality cruise ships are made of metal. Each cabin has metal walls and ceilings and floors so cell phone and computer signals are weak anyway. In addition since the ship leaves the country and is at sea it is away from cell towers once you can’t see land. The cruise lines figured out a long time ago that this is a money making area. So they installed cell phone transmission equipment so you can use a cell phone while on-board in many areas. The problem is that it’s expensive as shown in the article below. There is a balance though. Basically you can use your cell phone while in US ports just like you do now, although signal strength below deck can be bad because, well….it’s metal like I said.
Once you leave land you are at the mercy of the cruise ship roaming rates. Once you reach a new port you can roam on that country’s cell phone providers which is a mixed bag that you need to check with your provider on. Usually it cost more but maybe not as bad as the ship.  Keep in mind that most USA cell phone providers have USA service in ports you would think of like Long Beach, Miami, New York but ports like Key West, San Juan are still part of the USA so roaming while there is not usually an issue it’s part of the USA after all. 
Internet is a whole different animal. Cruise ships offer internet plans for a price and the speed is often not great, like dial up modem speed at times, although technology is getting better. So what is the best plan of action? What my wife and I do is make our last minute texts, facebook posts, phone calls at the port before leaving the USA. Then just before we say Bon Voyage we turn our phones to airplane mode. Most phones have this option and it will allow you to manually turn on wifi later if needed on the ship. It’s almost a ritual that says we are unplugging and starting our vacation. We then would use wifi for short sessions just to do a quick check of email so we know everything is OK back home and have peace of mind.
Another option in ports can be free wifi at restaurants, cafe’s, hotels, etc. This is becoming much more common than in the old days of the internet cafe Jason Bourne hangout days. Plus cheaper, as in free. Just keep in mind that these are public wifi areas in foreign port of call so it may not be too wise to log into your facebook, email, bank, etc. without using a VPN or really at all in my opinion. Plus remember that what happens at the Senor Frog’s beach bar in Cozumel at 5pm needs to stay at the Senor Frog’s.
One newer option with decent speed on free public wifi can be voice internet calling platform apps on mobile devices like Google Voice apps or even your own cell phone’s voice over wifi option. This can allow voice calls for free if unlocked on your device. That way you can leave a voicemail for Grandma who is baby sitting since she never picks up the phone anyway 🙂 “Hi Grandma, we just thought we’d call and “try” to talk to our kids for minute while we are in Grand Turk away from the beach leaving you another voicemail. I guess everything is OK since you posted that video of your cat on facebook yesterday that took us 20 minutes and $30 of internet ship charges to watch. Love you, we’ll try again when we reach Saint Marten. “
In addition we usually leave instructions with our family at home on how to contact the cruise line in a major emergency. Here is more info on that from carnival:
Here is the link to information from Cruise Critic which is a great resource:

How to find a “Theme” cruise. Or…..avoid one.

Ever want to go on a theme cruise? Maybe your really into doing a Christmas cruise or an art focused cruise. A cruise that caters to disabled people or fitness junkies. Does a wine cruise, religious or maybe a Harry Potter cruise appeal to you?Then I have the site for you.  It’s Theme Cruise Finders.

Theme cruise finder 2

They list all sorts of themed cruises. They don’t list EVERY themed cruise but they do have a bunch. Sounds great right.

What might be more important to you is to avoid a theme cruise. For example let’s say your booked on the Carnival Pride later this year. You can find out some of the theme cruises that are going to take place on that ship. Keep in mind not all theme cruises will be on the list however.

First click on the “Advanced” search feature on the home page.

Theme cruise 3

Then enter the name of the ship you are booked on.

theme cruise 4

The result will pull up any theme cruise that people have listed.  Here is an example of what came up when I searched “Carnival Pride”

Theme Cruise Finder   Search Result

Now maybe you want to be on the Big Gay Pride Wedding Cruise or maybe you don’t. Maybe you hate the band “The Embers featuring Craig Woolard” whoever they are? At least this way you won’t be surprised.

You can click on each cruise listed for more details on the exact date, etc.

Theme Cruise Finder   2015 Making Waves Cruise with The Embers Featuring Craig Woolard

Again they don’t list EVERY themed cruise but should catch most of the popular ones. Also remember ships are big and just because 150 Star Wars fans will be on-board doesn’t mean it will ruin your vacation. But if say 1,800 Justin Bieber fan’s are on-board it could be a different story.

Theme Cruise Finder lists over 500 Theme Cruises...

VacationsToGo and some Cruise lines you may not know about

I love taking cruises. It only hurts that my day job doesn’t allow me to go on many more cruises. One of my favorite places to search for cruises is Vacationstogo (I don’t get a kickback from them) but I am a big fan. It really helps me dream of my next trip but also do a ton of research. They are great. You do have to register by giving them your email address but it’s well worth it. They have a ton of search ability.


Basically just enter your dates and where you want to go or use the “90 day ticker” and it will pull up the options.

90 Day Ticker

They even have some odd cruise lines you may not know very well like this Astor cruise example. Can you imagine 38 night cruise for $3,009 per person. Not bad.

cruise example

One of the ones I’ve been looking into lately is Pulmantur which is a Spanish line with many options. Pullmantur Cruises is a Spanish cruise line that offers cruises to a mostly Spanish-speaking clientele. Spanish is the primary language onboard but many staff members also speak English. English-speaking guests looking to immerse themselves in the Spanish may enjoy cruises with Pullmantur. The Spanish link is here


Another lesser known cruise line is AIDA. Apparently they are owned by some other cruise investors. It is a German speaking cruise line that you won’t find on VacationsToGo.


Another lesser known cruise line is the UK line Thomson Cruise Lines. They are a UK based line with various ships and options for mainly English speaking clients. The are affiliated with Thomson Airways and have some interesting options for veteran cruisers that can sail from the UK.

Thomson   Cruise Itinerary   Myths   Legends   Cruises that suit your needs

These are just a few options out there if your tired of the run of the mill Carnival, NCL, type cruises or if your a veteran cruiser and are looking for some other options. A word of warning that these can be a bit more adventurous and typically the ships are a little older ships that they obtained from the big guys. Some of these ships are smaller which allows for unique port calls also.

I’ll try to follow up this post with some more cruise lines in the future. Oh and I don’t get kick backs from any of these links in case your wondering. Enjoy.