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onboard cell phone usage charges in Alaska

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A month and a half after returning from a Princess Alaskan Cruisetour, I receive my cell phone bill from AT&T and discover a whopping charge of $297. for roaming charges at $4.99 per minute apparently for charges made with my cell from the ship as we traveled down the Alaskan coast. I hadn't received any info about this charge and was unaware of it. My cell service has national coverage and it worked inland and on the ship in ports with no extra charge. I figured that if it shows bars, I was in range of a tower and was able to use it. Cruising down the coast, I had bars so assumed I was within range. No roaming indicator was apparent on the phone so I used it. Apparently there is some type of signal repeater on the ship that is turned on when they are a certain distance from shore and when it's on, you pay whether you know or not.
AT&T doesn't have the authority to remove these charges and after looking at the Princess website I find no place to call or write to complain. Any info on that would be appreciated.
When in and near the U.S. I think the average person would assume a cell with domestic coverage would be usable without the outrageous surcharge or notification of it .

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