I still remembering the time when we went to the tiny island of Caicos during one of our cruises and I needed to call home to check on the family. We had waited to disembark in order to purchase a phone card and use a public phone instead of paying a ridiculously high per-minute rate on the ship. To our surprise the only two public phones on the island were broken, and if it wouldn’t had been for a good samaritan who lend us his phone, we would have been force to pay the cruise rate or not call home at all.
A new little invention called Magic Jack is a money saving device that will allow any cruise passenger to call home from the ship at a much lower rate.
Magic Jack is basically a small device that you connect to any USB port of any computer with internet access, then you connect a regular phone to Magic Jack and voila! You have free unlimited calls to the US and Canada.
The device costs around $39.00 and it comes with the first year of unlimited local and long distance calls. After the first year, the service is $20.00 a year. All calls to the US and or Canada are free, it doesn’t matter where are you calling from. So, you might be in Europe using Magic Jack and the call is still free.
In order to use Magic Jack on a cruise ship, you still need to pay for regular internet access, but because the price of internet access is around $0.75 per minute (even wireless internet access) compared to $6.99 per minute for a phone call, you’ll be saving over $6.00 per minute on phone calls.
Many cruise lines have now signed contracts with wireless phone companies such as AT&T and T-Mobile that allows you to make calls from any ship using your cellular phone; however the rates is considered as international roaming by your cell phone provider and it might cost you between $1.75 to $4.50 per minute. This is cheaper than using the cabin phone, but much more expensive than calling home using the Magic Jack.
If you have a laptop and don’t mind taking it on board, I’ll recommend you use it instead of the computers at the internet café. Many ships now offer Wi-Fi connections on your room and you’ll have plenty of privacy to make your calls. The prices for Wi-Fi vs the Internet café is almost the same.
For a very comprehensive list of internet access in all the different cruise lines, check this wonderful article written in CruiseMates.com
You can try Magic Jack for free for 30 days, so if you are planning to go on a cruise in the next month or so, just ordered it (it might take up to two weeks to get the device). If you didn’t like it, just return it and pay nothing. If you like it and decide to keep it, you can use it in any of your travels and you will be calling home w/o having to pay those exorbitant hotel phone fees or using your cellular minutes.