Personal Cell Phone Technology Making Waves on Cruise Ships

DES MOINES, Iowa, August 22, 2006 – Guest demand for ship board cell phone usage is driving virtually all of the major cruise lines to offer personal cell phone connectivity via the very latest in cellular technology at sea.

“It won’t be long before expensive satellite phones are a thing of the past on most cruises,” said Bob Levinstein, CEO of, the world’s only competitive cruise pricing Web site.

“The cruise lines are aggressively installing the technology necessary to enable passengers to make and receive calls from their own cell phones in international waters. We tell our customers that personal cell phone usage will soon be as commonplace as onboard Internet connections.”

To date, only Norwegian Cruise Line has implemented personal cell phone usage aboard its entire fleet of vessels. Royal Caribbean International offers cell phone service on ten of its twenty ships, including the brand new Freedom of the Seas. Carnival Cruise Line recently announced cell phone service is available on the Carnival Triumph cruise ship and will be available fleet wide by early next year.

In addition, a number of other cruise lines expect to offer the personal cell phone service on some or all of their ships by the end 2007. These include Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Holland America, MSC, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silverseas Cruises and Windstar Cruises.

Use of personal cell phones on cruise ships is being made possible through a combination of satellite and wireless technology. Guests must have GSM and CDMA phones that operate at 1900 MHz, which is standard in the United States.

When a person makes a call at sea, a cellular antenna on the ship relays the call to an onboard base station that then relays it to a satellite. The satellite relays the call to a base station on land, which sends it through its cellular network. The service is activated once a ship is 12 miles off shore.

NCL passengers can make and receive both voice calls and text messages.
In addition, passengers with data-capable GSM/GPRS devices can access data services, such as email, Internet and picture messaging.

In most cases, cruise guests are billed roaming rates set by their carrier, as if they were on land instead of the sea. This cost ranges from $2-$5 per minute based on the different roaming zones across the world. Cruise ship stateroom phones can run $5 to $25 per minute; some satellite phones charge $10 per minute or more.

According to the Cruise Lines International Association, service providers that install such technology for its members include GeoLink, MTN, Seamobile and Wireless Maritime Service.

“Personal cell phone technology on board a ship at sea is a great convenience, but I hope that the cruise lines are sensitive to all of their guests and instill some general rules for usage,” said Steven Gelfuso, president of, one of nation’s leading cruise travel agencies. “I think they will all eventually forbid cell phones in dining rooms and other public areas where people want to simply relax in peace.” saves consumers time by finding the agent with the best
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