Is The AT&T Cruise Package Worth It?

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While we all dream of the chance to go on a cruise holiday and completely cut ourselves off from modern life, we don’t always have that luxury.

A man in a black shirt stands thoughtfully with his hand on his chin in front of a large, brightly lit cruise ship docked at a port during twilight. The sky is partly cloudy, adding a dramatic backdrop to the scene.

Sometimes, you just need to stay in touch with the real world, whether it’s checking in on how things are at home, or keeping tabs on the emails from work. Or you might just like being able to stay connected.

While all cruise ships offer some form of WiFi, there is an alternative if you’re cruising from the US – the AT&T Cruise packages.

Let me explain what they are, and whether they’re good value compared to a cruise line WiFi deal.

The AT&T Cruise Package Explained

A man in a suit sits at a desk, looking at a laptop screen displaying an AT&T cruise package advertisement. The ad features a woman using a smartphone on a cruise ship deck with the text, "Set sail and stay connected," and "AT&T has you covered on over 175 cruise ships."

The last thing you should do is let your phone connect to international roaming signals when you’re at sea. The costs are astronomical. But AT&T offers a special package that allows you to still connect to a phone signal when you’re out on the ocean.

It’s a package that you sign up for in advance, and it lasts 30 days. It then covers you for your talk and text costs, and gives you a certain amount of internet data that you can use as well.

It is only for use at sea. It replaces the international phone signals that you’d otherwise connect to, so you won’t be able to use your phone freely when you’re in port (or as you approach land—basically, as soon as you’re within range of a country’s cellphone signals).

It’s essentially an add-on for your existing domestic wireless service – so you don’t need a separate SIM or anything like that. As long as you’re already on a typical contract and you’re in the US, then you’re eligible.

AT&T Cruise Package – Ships Covered

The front portion of the brand new Disney Destiny cruising through the ocean during the purplish-orange sunset

The AT&T Cruise packages aren’t available on every cruise ship in the world, but you should be fine if you’re sailing from the US as pretty much all major cruise lines are covered.

You’re covered on 175 ships in total, including:

  • Azamara Cruises – all ships
  • Carnival – all ships
  • Celebrity Cruises – all ocean-sailing ships (so not the expedition ships)
  • Celestyal Cruises – all ships
  • Disney Cruise Line – all ships
  • Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines – Balmoral & Braemar
  • Holland America Line – all ships
  • MSC Cruises – all ships
  • Norwegian Cruise Line – all ships except Pride of America
  • Oceania Cruises – all ships
  • Princess Cruises – all ships
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises – all ships
  • Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection – all ships
  • Royal Caribbean – all ships
  • Seabourn – all ships except expedition ships
  • Silversea – all ships except expedition ships
  • Virgin Voyages – all ships
  • Windstar Cruises – all ships

You’re also covered on some other cruise lines that are smaller, including Cordelia Cruises, Dream Cruises, Japan Grace Cruises, P&O (Australia) Cruises, Sky Sea Cruise Line, and Star Cruises.

AT&T Cruise Package Rates

There are two different cruise packages you can choose from:

PackageCostTalkTextData
AT&T Cruise Basic$60100 minutesUnlimited100MB
AT&T Cruise Plus$100UnlimitedUnlimited1GB

Both have a one-off fee, but if you go over the allowance, you’ll incur extra charges.

Talk minutes are charged at $1 per minute, so if you plan on doing a lot of calling, then it makes sense to buy the Plus package since you get unlimited minutes included.

Data costs $10 for every 100MB you use over your limit.

As a guideline, social media apps normally use around 1MB of data per minute when you’re scrolling your feed, or around 2.5MB per minute if you’re watching videos on your social channels.

So expect to get around 100 minutes of regular internet use from the Basic package, or 40 minutes if you browse social media and watch videos.

With the Plus package, you get a lot more – around 17 hours of regular internet use, or just under 7 hours of internet if you watch videos.

AT&T International Day Pass

Remember that the AT&T Cruise packages only cover you at sea. If you want to be covered in port, the AT&T International Day Pass is worth looking at.

It works in over 210 destinations and, for $10 per day, gives you the same allowances you would have with your regular phone plan, including unlimited data if you already get that.

If you think you’ll want to use your phone a lot while you’re in port, then this is another add-on worth considering.

Cost vs. Cruise Line WiFi

Wifi receivers lined up on  a cruise ship to provide internet on cruisers.

With pretty much any cruise line you sail with from the US, you can only buy WiFi in unlimited packages that typically run for the whole duration of your cruise. Prices vary, but on average, you should expect to pay around $20 per day for a standard package for one device.

If we assume a 7-night cruise, that means your WiFi costs you $140 – significantly more than either of the AT&T packages. But your internet use is also unlimited – you don’t have to worry about how much data you’re using.

Cruise line WiFi doesn’t include talk and text, but these days, you can call someone using social media apps and everyone has at least one WiFi-based messaging service such as iMessage or WhatsApp, so that’s not really a concern.

Setting Up The Package

Getting set up with an AT&T cruise package is really simple. You just need to visit the AT&T website and set up an account, if you don’t already have one.

From there, you’ll be able to select which of the two packages you want, and set the start date. Remember that it lasts for 30 days once active, so could be used to cover longer cruises or even multiple cruises if you were lucky enough to be travelling twice within a month.

Once it’s activated, you don’t need to worry. Once you’re onboard and the ship reaches a certain point offshore – typically between 9 and 11 nautical miles – then your phone will automatically connect to the correct network, which will be one of four:

  • Cellular at Sea
  • wmsatsea 
  • 901-18
  • NOR-18

AT&T Cruise Package Reviews

Reviews of the AT&T packages on social media are mixed. Some people have said that the package worked really well for them, others have claimed it wouldn’t be useful due to the lack of data, while some people have had issues while using it.

“I see a lot of negative comments for AT&T cruise package but I wanted to give a decent review instead for anyone considering it, to save money or whatever the reason.”

If you use the plan as intended – as a way of staying in touch mainly via text or talk minutes – then it seems to work well, and signal isn’t an issue for most people. It can be a problem, though:

“I used the AT&T package many years ago and it was not worth the money. Your money is MUCH better spent on a Voom internet package, in my opinion.”

Is It Worth It?

Whether the AT&T package is worth it comes down to whether you mainly want to use your phone for calls and texts, or if you want to get online.

The limited amount of data you get – and the cost of $10 per extra 100MB – means it really isn’t good value for getting online.

Most people will burn through their data allowance really quickly and can still rack up huge charges – it’s only once you get to $300 that AT&T will put a freeze on the account and stop you from spending any more.

It also doesn’t tend to cost a lot more for WiFi packages on a cruise ship, especially if you’re sailing for less than a week – it may actually be cheaper, and then you can enjoy unlimited data.

But if you are sailing for a week or more, and you want to stick to calls and texts, then the AT&T packages might be worthwhile, since they will typically be cheaper, and the signal is mostly good.

Some people have reported issues with the cruise line charging them in error, but those charges can be taken off once you query them. Whether the hassle of that is worth the $40 or so you’ll save is ultimately up to you.

If you do decide to pay for an AT&T package, make sure you go into your phone’s settings and, app-by-app, remove access for data to make sure your apps aren’t burning through your allowance in the background.

Then, try to limit any high-demand apps like social media to the times when you can get free WiFi in port.

That way, you shouldn’t accidentally get a huge bill at the end of your cruise, and you will have saved money compared to the internet packages onboard.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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