Cruise To Alaska and Canada Technology Problems

Cruise Line: Princess Cruises
Cruise Ship:
Island Princess
Cruise:
7 Day Alaska – Inside Passage
Cell Phone Service Provider:
T-Mobile
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

Princess Cruise Booking Process Evaluation

January 3, 2019, my wife and I called Princess Cruises to book an Alaskan cruise. There were a number of complicating issues, like cancelling an prior cruise, non refundable deposit on the prior cruise, cabin location, etc. The lady who answered the phone, Regina #1, was the most amazing person I have ever interfaced with from a corporation. Typically corporate sales people come across as worn down by the job. Not Regina. She was amazing in every regard. She understood each issue we presented her with and deftly dealt with each one. She seemed to have all the time in the world to help us with planning and executing the trip. She had answers for every issue and made the trip planning a wonderful experience. We have traveled with Princess Cruises before and have found them very good. My impression of Princess Cruises has gone up with this experience.