Using a mobile on a ferry

Mobile Phone Charges on Ferries

UPDATE - Roaming fees or "roam like at home" does not apply when offshore and using a satellite link to the ship.

Mobile phone charges are making the news at the moment. Not only because of what effect leaving the EU will have on plans for roaming charges, but also the various charges which can apply when on a freight ferry.

Many of our freight customers use their phones daily whilst travelling across the continent, maybe to stay in touch with family or to speak to head office. With that in mind, we thought we'd take a look at the various charges that can apply, how mobiles work at sea and also what are the alternatives.

What Do Ferry Operators Charge On Board?

One question which constantly raises its head is 'Who charges me for my calls on board a ferry?' Depending on who you ask, the answer can vary. Lets take a look at a few different operators.

Stena Line

According to Stena Line, the costs are not within Stena Line's control. Once the ferry has left port, mobile phones will attempt to connect to the MCP (Maritime Communications Partner) network. After being informed by way of a SMS message, calls will be charged at "World Rate 6". Details of which are available from your service provider.

Brittany Ferries

Brittany Ferries use Skybridge, a satellite based marine mobile provider. Once away from port, charges will be 'considerably higher than your standard tariff'.

  • Make a call - £2 / minute
  • Receive a call - £1.50 / minute
  • Send a text - 50p / message + standard rate
  • Send a picture message - 45p / message
  • Data usage - daily charge of £6 / MB up to 5 MB, then £30 for each 5 MB after that


UPDATE - Telenor Maritime who provides the communications services for DFDS have announced that they will be deploying enhanced connectivity services on DFDS vessels including Premium Wi-Fi, Ka VSAT and mobile broadband.

Neither DFDS or its satellite supplier sets the tariffs. The final charge is determined by your mobile operator. DFDS states that it is important that you contact your mobile operator to confirm relevant international roaming tariffs prior to use.

Irish Ferries

Irish Ferries also reiterates that the responsibility lies with the mobile operator. They do however emphasise that 'This satellite service is expensive to install and operate, and as a result the cost of making a call or texting while at sea will be more expensive than normal international mobile tariffs.'

How Do Mobile Phones Work at Sea?

Two of the mobile networks provided on ferries are Skybridge and MCP (now Telenor Maritime). Both networks provide 2G, 3G & 4G GSM mobile phone connections to the mainland via VSAT satellites and earth stations. Onboard WiFi also connects to the Internet using the same technology.

Mobile network on ferry

What are the Alternatives?

  • Switch off your data roaming or turn on 'aeroplane mode' unless absolutely necessary
  • If you really need to use your phone onboard a ferry, check with your mobile provider before you travel and way up the costs
  • Most ferries now have WiFi, maybe even free WiFi. Even if it's not free, it's probably going to be cheaper than the satellite services
  • Are you on holiday? Turn your phone off and enjoy the trip

Need some more advice? Speak to our customer service team.

04 October 2016

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