The End of the $10 Per-Minute Ship-to-Shore Call?

October 4, 2006
Following a trend initiated by Norwegian Cruise Line, guests aboard Holland America ships will soon be able to use their cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDA's) to stay in touch with land-locked friends and family.

Currently available on Volendam, the service will be operational fleetwide by March 2007. Whether in Canada, the Caribbean or Europe, passengers will simply make and receive calls and use text messaging as they would while driving or gossiping loudly in public. Besides activating their phones and PDA's for international dialing with a home provider, no additional changes -- inputting codes, adding software -- are needed. International roaming fees apply to all shipboard cell phone usage; charges will appear on the guest's personal cell phone bill.

Implementation of cell phone usage on cruise ships has been met with some controversy -- amongst folks who go on cruises to disconnect and those who want to stay in touch at all times.

Other ships offering access include:

Carnival: Carnival Conquest, Carnival Triumph and Imagination are already equipped. Fleetwide updrades are to be completed by early 2007.

Celebrity: Scheduled to make one ship per month cell phone ready until service provided fleetwide

Costa: Available fleetwide.

MSC Cruises: Passengers aboard MSC Musica, MSC Opera and MSC Lirica can use their cell phones.

NCL: Available fleetwide.

Royal Caribbean: Just over half of RCCL ships offer service. There are plans to offer service to all ships by year's end.

--by Dan Askin, Editorial Assistant