Top 5 Tips How to Use Your iPhone on a Cruise Ship

How to use an iPhone on a cruise ship - Lucy Williams Global

Have you ever gone on a cruise and wondered why your iPhone is not working the same way it does at home? Here I am going to tell you my top 5 tips on how to use your iPhone on a cruise ship.

(This post was updated in January 2023)

I get asked a lot of iPhone questions on board and at home. I am not an IT expert, but I know how to use my iPhone. Probably because I cannot put it down!

Back to how to use your iPhone. Why doesn’t your iPhone work the same way on board as it does at home? This is mainly because when you are travelling on a cruise ship you are not going to be connected to the internet 24 hours a day.

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How to Use Your iPhone on a Cruise Ship

Once you have left shore the 4G will only stay connected when you are near land or if there is a satellite above you. There is Wi-Fi on board, but on most cruise lines this is a paid extra or you have a package of minutes or MBs included in your ticket.

When you are on land, 4G and your home Wi-Fi is always connected to your phone. So, you have no idea which apps require the internet to function.

We really do not realise how much we rely on our phones these days, so I am going to tell you my top 5 questions and hopefully give you some answers.

Coffee at sea


The time changes on board when arriving in different countries. Sometimes it is a few hours difference so you may be changing the time over a few days at sea and your phone will not set automatically to ship time.

How do you change the time?

  • Go to Settings App
  • Press General
  • Press Date and Time
  • Switch off, set automatically
  • Change time zone to the city you are going to be in or just change the time manually

Fitbit/Fitness Tracker Watch

If you have a Fitbit or another fitness tracking device and you would like to sync your, daily steps you will need to do the following:

  • Change the time if there has been a time change
  • Make sure your Bluetooth is on and your phone is connected to your Fitbit
  • Log on to the ship internet
  • Go to the Fitbit app
  • Pull down the home screen of the Fitbit app to sync
  • Wait for the sync to finish
  • Log off the internet 
How to Use Your iPhone on a Cruise Ship - Lucy Williams Global

How to Use Your iPhone on a Cruise Ship

Airplane Mode

While on board and sailing put your phone on airplane mode to save the battery and stop receiving calls or use your data when you are close to shore. This way you will not receive phone calls in the early hours that you may not want to answer. As your hometown may be in a completely different time zone.

To put on airplane mode on, go to:

  • Settings
  • First option airplane mode
  • Switch on

Background App Refresh

Switch off background app refresh as if you are using the ship Wi-Fi, this will eat a lot of your data plan. You can update your apps when you return home.

How to switch off background app refresh:

  • Go to Settings
  • Press General
  • Press Background App Refresh
  • Switch off background app refresh

Saving the Battery Power

Phone batteries do not last like they use to, due to using the camera app, the internet, playing games, etc.

There are a few ways to save your battery power while ashore and on board:

Switch off the location services (just switch it back on when you would like to use maps or set your location for your Facebook photos).

  • Go to Settings
  • Press Privacy
  • Press Location Services
  • Switch off location services

Put the battery on low power mode

  • Go to settings
  • Press Battery
  • Switch on Low Power Mode

If not using 4G, switch it off

  • Go to settings
  • Press Mobile Data
  • Switch off Mobile Data

If not using your phone for phone calls or data while ashore, put on airplane mode.

To put on airplane mode on, go to:

  • Settings
  • First option airplane mode
  • Switch on

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Cruise Ship Essentials

Here are some cruising accessories from Amazon you may find useful on your next cruise. To see more, have a look at my Amazon shop page and click here.

Lucy Williams Global Shopping






I hope these tips have helped you. Do you have any top tips for using your iPhone whilst on a cruise ship? I would love to hear them, just comment below.

If you enjoyed reading about these iPhone tips, please share them on Facebook and Pinterest so your friends and family can read too. Sharing is caring!

Happy Cruising!

How to Use Your iPhone on a Cruise Ship - Lucy Williams Global
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  1. marjiemare
    February 10, 2018 / 9:33 pm

    That’s good to know, 3 years ago, we went to a cruise, we did not have signal for the 5 days. Now, thanks to you, I am prepared for the next time.

  2. February 10, 2018 / 9:53 pm

    I never realized how complicated it could be when you are off land. I don’t plan on going on a cruise soon but these tips are a must for when I do go.

  3. Narkis
    February 11, 2018 / 10:07 pm

    This information is so useful! Thank you for all the ideas and tips. I will defiantly be using this.

  4. February 12, 2018 / 2:47 am

    Smart ideas! I never used my phone on a cruise because I had no idea what to do with it!

  5. Stephanie
    February 12, 2018 / 3:33 am

    Where was this last time I went on a cruise?! I don’t think I’ve ever had the service on while on a cruise except once when my mom and I were on a weeklong Mediterranean cruise and called home just for a few minutes.

    • October 6, 2018 / 12:58 am

      Unless you have a roaming in your contract your phone will not work out of your home country. While onboard and at sea your phone will only have the option to connect to the ship network if you have roaming. Hope this helps you in the future.

  6. February 12, 2018 / 6:56 am

    These are all such great tips! You’re an iPhone master!


  7. Tonya
    February 12, 2018 / 5:31 pm

    I have never been on a cruise and didnt even know that these were issues! These are great tips I need to remember! Even just when traveling out of the country!

  8. February 13, 2018 / 12:11 am

    I didn’t think of putting things in airplane mode. But that does make such a lot of sense as far as power drains.

    June 3, 2018 / 6:23 pm

    Really good tips! I love how specific you were with your suggestions and instructions. I’ve pinned it on my Cruise Tips board :-)!

    • October 6, 2018 / 12:46 am

      Thank you Ilana! I have been asked so many questions onboard and handed iphones I knew I needed to share the info to fellow cruisers!

  10. Deborah Fortin
    March 5, 2019 / 3:12 am

    Thank you Lisa! All your tips are super helpful as I plan on sailing my very first cruise vacation within the year. I’m super excited and now feel very armed with tech info that will make the trip so much smoother.
    Deborah :)

    • March 5, 2019 / 3:28 am

      Hi Deborah, I’m so pleased my cruise tips have helped you! If you need any more cruise help, please reach out. Happy cruising 🛳 Take care Lucy

  11. Haley
    March 10, 2024 / 4:49 pm

    What should I do with my Apple Watch while on a cruise? Should I just leave it at home?

    • March 10, 2024 / 10:31 pm

      Hello Haley, your iWatch will work on a cruise, it follows what your iPhone does, so if you change the time on your phone, it will sync the same time on your watch. It will track your movement, for your fitness goals. The functions that will not work are the ones that require the internet, so therefore when you are not connected to the internet, for example email and facebook notifications will not come through. But if you are connected to the internet on your phone, your watch will also connect. A lot of the functions will work while you are on your cruise. I hope this answers your question. Have a great cruise!

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