Cruise To Alaska and Canada Technology Problems

Cruise Line: Princess Cruises
Cruise Ship:
Island Princess
7 Day Alaska – Inside Passage
Cell Phone Service Provider:
Phone: LG-V30
Date: May 1 to May 8, 2019

I do recommend Princess Cruise 7 Day Alaska – Inside Passage.  This blog post only criticizes some external factors that were a surprise to me.

Our cruse ship does offer Internet service for a fee that I think is quite high.  We decided not to pay for that service.

I am a bit of a news and weather interested person.  At home, I check both news and weather frequently.  The trip to Alaska was wonderful in many ways except for receiving news back in the main states and weather around me and for my next destination.  Weather in Alaska can change quickly and it would be nice to plan how to dress for the day before leaving my cabin.

None of my cell phone weather applications would show up to date weather during our stay in Alaska and Canada.  No weather applications worked while in Vancouver Princess Cruises dock, over 4 hours duration at dock.

None of my cell phone news applications would update and store more current news for most of the trip.  Even when arriving at Vancouver and docked better part of a day my news applications failed.

The Weather Underground application would fail to open and update way more frequently than Yahoo Weather even when back home where there is rock solid Internet.

For most of the trip, lousy e-mail into my cell phone. T-Mobile’s coverage map for Alaska and Canada is way less than the main part of the United States but it does show some coverage in places we traveled. Why then this failure?

For some reason, text messages did work at times.  At the end of the trip I traded texts with friends on board ship while in Vancouver.

Odd:  Starbucks cell phone application did work in Vancouver while weather applications failed.

In Vancouver, about a 15 minutes bus drive from boat dock to airport, I got weather application to work but frequent signal dropouts.

At Vancouver Airport Terminal. Weather applications did function.  But, not NEWS!

Our cruse ship TV failed to provide any weather channel. The only option we could find was to watch the BBC because they show the world weather as part of their news but it is a large over view lacking any detail. There was a channel dedicated to the ship’s course on a map including the current outdoor temperature only at the ship’s current location.

The AP News application updated very slowly.  I must keep the application open for AP to receive updates, it seems.  When in the air and no Internet, the full story text is missing.  This application sucks for later reading almost as bad as all the other news applications.  The New York Times would still not updating, a near total waste.

Weather Underground application started showing temperatures for locations but no expanded weather information.

The New York Times cell phone application fails to show last stories but shows white screen.  Once it updated with few days old stories and then removed them for much older stories.  Really weird and stupid.

At the end of our trip and at the Portland Oregon Airport, I was finally able to sync my Fitbit Ionic to my cell phone Fitbit application and then the Ionic now showed the correct time!!!  So for most of the trip, my Fitbit Ionic showed the incorrect time by one hour because we moved into another time zone. Why the Ionic fails to synchronize to the cell phone application time by Bluetooth is really stupid.

Portland Oregon Airport provided good cell phone connectivity.

Note:  The cruse ships are made of thick steel and as such are really shielded from cell tower signals.  The further inside you go into the ship the chance of receiving any cell phone signal is minute.   It is my guess that one may need to go outside those shield confines to increase your chance to get good phone service.  We did, at times, walk on outside decks but it was very, very, cold to do so.

Solution:  Because the weather in Alaska can change and my cell phone weather applications failed me and day trips are away from getting to needed change of clothing, I decided to take along a comfortable, rather small, back pack made by Eagle Creek (no longer made).  It has enough space for a rain jacket or pack able jacket and two side pouches for umbrellas and water bottles and a back pouch for snacks and first aid kit.

Summary: Once home I realized that not much had taken place in the United States for the week we were out of touch with the news. The ship did provide free TV in our rooms with a good selection of news channels. Problem is, I spend so little time in my cabin. I rather read the news in the dinning rooms. As for weather, absolutely no provided information from the ship and my cell phone.  My cell phone, T-Moblie service provider, really was quite awful in Alaska and even in larger cities of Canada, such as Vancouver. It was not until I got into Washington and Oregon that it provided good service.


Posted May 11, 2019

JayBird X2 Wireless Bluetooth Headset Problem Solved.

I purchased a JayBird X2 headset for about $180 in 2016.  After using them for no more than 20 times, the device failed.  It would ONLY power on just after taking the headset off the charger.  I had been turning the headset ON and OFF each time I needed it.  My son came up with the solution.  He told me to keep the headset ON all the time!  In short, this was the near perfect solution.  He said the battery drain was minimal, so why not keep them ON all the time?  I just carried the headset around until I needed it and linked it to my cell phone. This worked very well for me as I only use the headsets when I go to the gym or take a walk outside with my wife and friends on the weekend.  Soon as I get home with, I put the headsets back on the charger.

This was not a perfect solution because the JayBird would disconnect from my Samsung Galaxy S5 some times.  I never had a disconnect problem between the phone and our RAV4 car so I suspect the headsets were at fault.  If you have this problem, just go to your phone Settings and select Bluetooth.  Make sure that Bluetooth is turned ON.  Look at the Paired Devices list and you should see Jaybird X2.   Finger select that device but not the gear symbol to the right.  By finger tapping that headset you are telling the phone to pair up to the headset.

CAUTION: I found that I had to turn Bluetooth OFF on my cell phone to get the phone speaker and microphone to work without the Jaybird.  The reason is that the phone expects all communications to take place through that Jaybird if the phone and headset are paired. The phone speaker and microphone will be turned off.  If you are NOT using the Jaybird, the phone will act dead if Bluetooth is ON.  Just turn Bluetooth off and the normal phone audio should work.  To make this all simple, just go to the phone and turn Bluetooth ON when using the headsets and OFF when not.

Update:  2018 I switched to an LG V30 cell phone.  The Jaybird X2 also shows problems connecting to my new cell phone.  It times, I need to turn off my cell phone Bluetooth and/or turn off and on my cell phone to get the headsets to connect.  This process is a pain.

Update:  I typically leave my Jaybird X2 headsets sitting behind my neck.  One day I completely forgot to take care of them and they ended up in my wash.  The headsets were washed and dried.  When I removed them from the dryer they worked!  The only down side was that the foam ear attachments that slip on each ear piece dissolved.

Revised April 7, 2018

How To Transfer Music (and other files) From A Mac Computer To A Samsung Galaxy S5

I hated my Samsung Galaxy S5 cell phone because the battery life was awful.  It was slow and unreliable.  It was a pain to use.  It began to get worse and then it bricked up the end of May 2016.   I had to un-brick my Samsung Galaxy S5 cell phone by pressing 3 keys at the same time (power, volume up and home keys).  I then chose factory reset from a menu of options.  I then had to wait for a very long time for the new system updates to take place and reboot.  I then had to install all the applications that I had  lost and customize the phone to my liking.  The Play Store showed the applications I had paid for so reinstalling those was easy.

What I found out was my battery life was spectacular after this new installation.  The battery would last longer than one day.  I also found that my internal 16 GB was only half full.  The look of the desktop was different.  I now had rounded icon buttons.

The next problem was to get my iTunes music into the phone, which is the reason for this post.  I tried a long list of methods but nothing would work.  I then asked our computer guru and he recommended WiFi.   It worked.  Here are the steps:

  • Watch this video:
  • Using your cell phone, go to the Play Store and search for “Portal”.  you are looking for “Portal – WiFi File Transfers” by Pushbullet.
  • Install the Portal application on your cell phone.
  • Once the Portal application has finished installation on your phone and has loaded, it will show you to go to this web site on your Macintosh computer:  (Watch out as there is another web site with a similar name that will charge you money).
  • You will be prompted to then use your cell phone camera to take a picture of the code on the open web page showing on your computer screen.
  • Hold the cell phone up to the computer screen and press “Scan” button showing on your cell phone screen.
  • Immediately, a new web page should open up on your computer screen allowing you to drag music files into the web page.  A new screen also shows up on your cell phone hopefully showing “Connected” and “Waiting for files”.
  • Drag your music files on your Macintosh computer into the web site screen and you will then see them, rather rapidly, go over to your cell phone.  The process is impressively fast.

That is it.  I now can play my music stored on my Samsung Galaxy S5.  I just might keep this cell phone for a while longer.

By the way, not only can music files be transferred but other files also.  I have only tested music files so far.  Good luck.