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Wireless Communications on Cruises

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Our HAL brochure conveniently tells us that we can use our cell phones on board their ships. I followed up with our cell service provder (mine is AT&T Mobile) and learned that our cell phones would have to have to be adjusted for the month our cruise takes place costing $20 per phone, a one-time charge and we would be charged $1.99 per minute for phone usage for all calls my partner would make to make to each other (eg. "Honey, where are you? Meet me on the Promenade deck in 5 minutes"). The customer service representative suggested text messaging as a possible cost saver. I'm thinking possibly using a pair of inexpensive, short range two-way walkie/talkie radios both on board ship and when we venture ashore.

What kind of rates and charges have you had using your cell phones at sea and while ashore? How reliable is the service provided by the ships and when you are ashore on excursions?

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