Cruise ships and cell phones don't sail

Posted: Updated:
By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Here's a little consumer warning for you, taking your cell phone on a cruise ship isn't necessarily a bad idea.

However, not turning your cell phone off on the ship is a bad idea.

“I travel both international and domestic, many times a year," said Sheila Acala.

Sheila loves to travel and has pretty much been everywhere.

"Last year I was in London, I went to Vancouver, I've been to Alaska, I've been to Scandinavia," she said.

And just this February she took to the high seas.

"I was going on a cruise to the Caribbean, it was vacation time, I'd had rough year," Sheila explained.

Sheila traveled to Texas to board the cruise ship and of course, she took her cell phone on her way there.

However, once she boarded the ship, she had no plans of using her phone because she wanted to relax and not be bothered.

"In this particular case, I had every intention of when I left, I was basically checking out. I didn't want the phone call, I didn't want the text messages, I didn't want the emails," Sheila stated.

Sheila says the cruise was awesome until she got back on land and got an email from AT&T.

"This email is a courtesy notice to inform you that your international data usage has exceeded $400," read the email.

Sheila couldn't believe it.  She says she realized she didn't turn off her cell phone on the ship, but she also knows she never used it.  That’s when AT&T told her this:
"Even when your phone is on, it's still updating itself"

And when it's updating in the middle of the ocean that means the phone apparently runs up international data charges.

3 On Your Side contacted AT&T, who immediately looked into the matter.

AT&T says consumers should be aware that if they don't turn off their phone completely or get an international data package, your phone could rack up charges when it automatically updates itself.

After 3 On Your Side's involvement, though, AT&T decided to waive the more than $400 in data charges for Sheila.

3 On Your Side, and Sheila of course, appreciate that.

"What people don't realize is that these phones aren't what they used to be, just because you don't use the phone doesn't mean it's not costing you money to take it with you," said Sheila.

AT&T was quick to resolve this issue, so a big thank you to them. 

This is a good reminder that if you are going on a cruise or possibly leaving the country, contact your cell phone provider first.