Roaming cost trap: Mobile communications and internet at sea can be expensive

Anyone who is out at sea by cruise ship, ferry or freighter should use cell phones, smartphones, tablets and smartwatches carefully and with sufficient information. Calls and SMS via cellular network as well as the Internet accessed via the cellular network provider can be really expensive. With the network operator Telefónica in particular, the costs for mobile communications services used on the ship can climb into the four to five-digit range, as there is no cost brake. The Schleswig-Holstein consumer advice center warns of this on the portal Marktwächter.de.

Cellular communications at sea can be expensive. If you are traveling by cruise ship, ferry or freighter, then it is better not to use the internet - or contact the provider beforehand!

Cellular communications at sea can be expensive. If you are traveling by cruise ship, ferry or freighter, then it is better not to use the internet - or contact the provider beforehand!

EU roaming regulation does not apply at sea

Even those who are on European waters and use their mobile phone can fall into the cost trap. Because the EU roaming regulation, which regulates that there are no longer any additional costs for the connection in the confederation, only applies in terrestrial networks. At sea, therefore, sometimes exorbitant costs can arise that are not warned directly - the prices for telephony, SMS text messages and the Internet only appear on the mobile phone bill at home. 

"If the consumer watches a ten-minute YouTube video in HD quality on board, for example, then he could expect around 200 megabytes, i.e. around 5.000 euros. We have a specific case in which a consumer should pay more than 11.000 euros“, Says Per Prins, telecommunications expert in the market watchdog team at the Schleswig-Holstein consumer advice center. "In order to avoid such a bill, telecommunications customers should urgently inform themselves about possible cost risks on the website of the consumer advice centers before their vacation."

Tip for the vacation: Digital detox

Telefónica without cost limit or precise info SMS

If you come abroad or use the mobile phone network made available at sea, you will usually receive a corresponding info SMS from all operators with information on foreign / sea use of the booked tariff. At Telefónica, the information text provides the most necessary information, but no exact prices:

Welcome on board! Please note: Calls, SMS and data use in airplanes and at sea will incur different costs to your current roaming option. Billing is not subject to any automatic cost limitation function.

The lack of a cost limit can lead to an invoice as described above. So if you go on vacation on a cruiser in the future and your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE want to use, inform yourself in advance what it could cost. With some providers, the customer app or the online portal may also offer the option of setting up your own cost brake.

Incidentally, these providers operate in the Telefónica network (previously o2 and E-Plus network): o2, BASE, Aldi Talk, Ay Yildiz, Blau, the "Drillisch" brands (DeutschlandSIM, WinSIM, Smartmobil, Simply, Eteleon Bild Connect, McSIM, etc.), Fonic, K-Classic Mobil, Netzclub, Simyo, Yourfone, and a few more.

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