Royal Caribbean Informative - Beware of cell phone use while on a cruise ship
My wife and I took a 12 day cruise out of Baltimore last month to The Caribbean (San Juan, St Thomas, St Maarten, etc) on the Enchantment Of The Seas of Royal Caribbean. The cruise had a bad start because of the terrible boarding procedures. This was our sixth cruise and on every prior cruise, as soon as we finished with the agents who checked our papers and gave us our cabin keys we walked up the ramp and onto the ship. This time however, we were herded into a large room and told to take seats. Royal Caribbean then began boarding people who had cruised with them before. The more prior cruises, the quicker you were allowed to board. We waited about an hour for permission to board.
Our biggest single problem didn't surface until about 4 days into the cruise. My wife got a message from Verizon Wireless that she had exceeded $50.00 in data charges on her cell phone. She had not used her phone at all but had kept it on to use as a camera. Naturally I was not happy about these charges and began to try to get to the bottom of it. Here is what I found:
All cruise ships have recently installed equipment on board to create a cell phone tower on the ship that is connected to the satellite network. When a passenger turns on their cell phone it connects with the ship's tower and the phone shows strong signal strength. Many people think they can make and receive calls just as they did at home, and in fact they can. The difference is that in this case, a charge of $1.49 per minute is billed by their cell phone provider and is paid by the provider to the cruise line. This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing but I feel that the cruise line has an obligation to inform passengers of this situation BEFORE they incur unexpected charges. In our case my wife's IPhone had updated itself several times a day resulting in the data charges. Once we discovered what was happening we switched her phone to airplane mode so it could not send or receive signals. The Guest Services Manager initially denied that the ship had anything to do with it and was not receiving the money for the charges but when I presented him with a statement from Verizon Wireless (which I had obtained while ashore in San Juan) he agreed to help with the charges. My single problem here is that I did not know about these procedures and I feel that Royal Caribbean is disingenuous in not telling guests about it on their first day on board.
Other than that problem we enjoyed the cruise. Our toilet failed to flush several times and I had to call maintenance about four times but by and large, the crew did a great job and I would highly recommend cruising on The Enchantment Of The Seas.