Staying in touch during a cruise can be a dicey proposition. In the not-too-distant past, the only way to communicate with family back home was through the ship's satellite telephone system. But prohibitive fees (usually around $7.00 per minute) made that option impracticable at best.
International calling booth businesses at foreign piers offered much cheaper prices. But, language barriers and long lines (all those crew members eager to call home) detracted from their appeal.
A Little Research
Everyone has a cell phone now. But not everyone takes the time to research their carrier's international calling plans. If not, they're in for a rude surprise when those international roaming charges kick in. If passengers try to use their cell phones while at sea (assuming they find a signal) they can face a double whammy. Both the cell phone carrier and in some cases, the onboard communications company, charge fees.
Skype and other internet-based services are one potential alternative. Callers still, however, incur charges for onboard Wi-Fi, which can be prohibitively priced and slow on mainstream cruise lines.
Norwegian Cruise Line passengers can take advantage of the Norwegian iConcierge App. It's a free download for Apple, Android and Windows smartphones.
With the App, passengers can use their smartphones to interact with onboard systems from anywhere on the ship. It's a way to access real-time information about everything taking place on board. And let's face it, cruise vacations are a hotbed of activity. Lines want passengers out and about, enjoying shows, shops, demonstrations and everything else they can come up with.
Tips for Using iConcierge
If you're planning to take advantage of the iConcierge features, it's important to download the App before you leave port on Day 1 of the cruise.
The App works exclusively onboard each ship’s Wi-Fi network. So, enable the Wi-Fi connection on your phone. It's a good idea to also switch your device to airplane mode. That way, you'll avoid cellular roaming charges from your carrier.
Connect to the ship’s Wi-Fi network by searching for “Norwegian_Internet_Ship Name,” and then register using your stateroom number.
To call or text, select the phone or messenger icon on the App's home screen. You have to first select a Phone & Messenger package on the Rates tab. The package will give you unlimited calls and texts to other iConcierge registered devices for one flat rate.
You'll also have a unique onboard number to use with iConcierge. It's located on the Contacts tab, at the top of the phone screen. Other registered mobile devices in your stateroom are automatically added to your contacts. You can also add other guests with a registered mobile device.
The unique phone number is what you'll use to make and receive phone calls and text messages. Provide this number to friends and family back home or other onboard guests using Norwegian iConcierge App.
To make a call, simply dial the extension you're trying to reach. Or to make an on-ship call, dial 1 + the area code and number. Or add the number to your Contacts tab.
To send a text, click on the Messenger bubble next to a Contact on the Contacts tab.
The communications conundrum has traditionally been one of the least-favorite features of cruising. The industry recognizes that, and most major lines have rolled out apps to make things easier for passengers to keep in touch.