Costa Adds Onboard Cell Phone Access

September 18, 2003
For cell phone users, staying connected at sea is getting a little easier now that Costa Crociere has signed an agreement that will permit passengers to use mobile phones in Italian waters – and beyond. The five-year deal with Telecom Italia Communication (TIM) means, bottom line, that travelers who use GSM cell phones can save mightily – Costa estimates about 60 – 77 percent – over the cost of using the in-cabin ship-to-shore phone, which is $9 (or 9 euros) per minute.

Traditionally, cell phones have only worked a few miles beyond the coast (or less), which means that passengers have had to rely on the more expensive satellite phones.

According to Costa’s announcement, the arrangement with TIM also will expand usage. Passengers will be able to send data, text messages and images.

Of course, this new arrangement only applies to folks who are signed up with TIM or who are foreign customers of the company’s roaming partners. However, passengers with other mobile phone partners can buy a TIM card onboard.

The technology partnership will launch in November and begin with CostaFortuna, the line’s newest ship, which is also slated to debut that month. Costa estimates it will have the service in place by the end of the year on CostaRomantica, CostaAtlantica, CostaTropicale, and Costa Europa. Shortly thereafter – estimate is January – the service will be available on Costa Victoria. Beyond those ships, Costa says its arrangement with TIM will be fleetwide by 2006.

Interestingly, CostaMediterranea, the cruise line’s latest new-build, will be among the last to get the new technology because that vessel will not go into dry dock for nearly two years.