Cruise tips you can trust
Be aware of factors such as cost:
You can place calls onboard, but charges are quite expensive for most budgets. The standard ship-to-shore charge is about $6 per minute That's $120 for a 20-minute call.
A far less costly alternative
Place your calls in the ports you visit, using a calling card.
Use your cell phone
It will work on the high seas only under certain conditions. Your phone must be programmed to work with the right satellite service. Or, your ship must be equipped with modern satellite or Wi-Fi technology that allows your cell phone to access the system (few ships currently have it).
Near shore, your phone will work, but only if the land transmitter accommodates your cell phone service.
Someone is calling you
Emergencies back home could occur. If your cell phone won't work onboard, provide your family, friends and associates with the satellite communications phone number of the ship. Remind them to use that number (supplied by the cruise line) only in a true emergency. It could be a costly addition to their telephone bill.
Most modern cruise ships provide passengers with internet access using satellite transmission, but bear in mind:
Onboard internet access time rates on some ships can shock many budgets. Ditto for fax, Telex and radiogram services.
Best time of the day
Demand for available computers on a ship can be high, so it's best to do your onboard emailing and surfing in the early morning or late evening. During peak periods, both waiting lines and internet access can be painfully slow. The worst time is usually just before dinner.
Lower rates onshore
Drop by an internet cafe in the port you are visiting. Its rates should be considerably lower than those onboard.
Temporary web-based email
Before you leave, set up a temporary web-based email account that can be accessed on the internet, such as the ones provided free by Google, MSN, Yahoo! and other organizations. You gain two major advantages:
Ease of access
Your regular email accounts might not be accessible on the internet without doing a lot of fiddling with the computer you're using - and even that effort may not work.
It is often risky to access your regular email account on a public computer. Wrong-doers secretly install programs on them that steal passwords for malicious purposes.
To read your regular email onboard, instruct your regular email account to forward messages to your temporary email address.
To keep a record of the messages you send using your temporary email account, send a BCC to your regular email box.
Keep abreast of the latest news while sailing the high seas:
Your cruise ship downloads and distributes a free daily, small-sized newssheet summarizing major stories.
More detailed news
Some cruise ships download and sell special full-sized 6-to-8-page versions of major newspapers such as USA Today. For late-breaking news, there's onboard television and the internet.
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