The Best SIM Cards for Seafarers & Seamen

Best SIM cards for Seafarers

Accessing reliable mobile coverage can be challenging when your line of work takes you to remote places — like the middle of the ocean. Connectivity is a struggle at sea, especially when no cell tower (or land) is in sight. What is a seafarer to do? We've put together this guide to the best SIM cards for seafarers and seamen.

Staying Connected While Out at Sea

Connecting at sea isn't like finding mobile service on a camping trip. It's a bit more complicated. Not only will you be in remote areas where service doesn't exist, but you'll also have to worry about things like:

  • What country you're in. At sea, it's not always obvious when you cross borders. Your only sign could be your phone racking up roaming charges.
  • How much data you'll need. Seafarers have different data needs from other travelers. You'll need a plan that supports data-rich activities like video calls and streaming.
  • How long you'll be gone. It's not uncommon to remain at sea for several months. That can make re-upping plans or buying new SIM cards difficult. You'll need to plan your data access ahead of time.
  • Whether your ship has Wi-Fi. Some ships have Wi-Fi. If that's the case for yours, your data needs will decrease. Try to find this out ahead of time, and have a backup plan if you need to rely on data. 
  • How much time before you travel. This will determine whether you can get your hands on a traditional SIM card solution for seafarers or need to look at something like an eSIM.

The 3 Best SIM Cards for Seafarers & Seamen

You have a few options when choosing a SIM card for a long trip out at sea. Here are the three best SIM cards for seafarers and seamen, plus some thoughts on which solution is better.

Global SIM Cards for Seafarers

Global SIM cards have long been the traditional choice for people at sea. They're typically physical SIMs that you need to order ahead of time. They offer global coverage and plans with enough data to meet your needs at sea.

A global SIM card is a good option if you:

  • Have a phone that doesn't support eSIM technology
  • Need to stay connected across several countries and regions
  • Have the time to wait for it to be shipped and delivered

Local SIM Cards for Seafarers

Local SIM cards are just what they sound like: SIM cards purchased in the region or country you're currently in. You'll usually get a local number and access to data plans at local rates. That can make them incredibly cheap while still giving you fast data, making them attractive.

Local SIM cards aren't always the best option for people at sea. When you dock, you need to search for them and make sure the re-seller doesn't offer you one at a higher price. Generally, they're a bit more limited unless you find one that offers regional service. Likewise, it's unlikely you'll be able to top up online, which means you could find yourself out of data.

Local SIM card options are nonetheless something to consider if you:

  • Will stay within the waters of a single country
  • Will be at the port for an extended period
  • Need a local number for calling and texting

eSIMs for Seafarers

An eSIM, or embedded SIM card, is an excellent option for seafarers and seamen. It's a much more convenient alternative to physical SIM cards. Unlike international and local SIM cards, there's no physical component associated with an eSIM. Instead, you can purchase and download an eSIM package from our eSIM store. It's easy to install, and you'll be able to connect to a mobile network in minutes.

The eSIM is the most flexible of the three best SIM cards for seafarers and seamen. You can purchase a single country, regional, or global data plan and install and store multiple eSIMs before your trip. Need more data? It's easy to top them up online to prevent disruptions in your service. The only downside is that not all phones support eSIM, and you need to be connected to the internet to install it. Check if your phone is eSIM capable here.

An eSIM from Airalo has many benefits if you:

  • Want to stay connected in 200+ countries and regions worldwide
  • Want the flexibility of switching your mobile plan as you travel
  • Want to use affordable data via eSIM and continue receiving calls and SMS with your primary SIM card
  • Want a global plan with data, call, and text services

Staying connected at sea has its challenges — and an eSIM simplifies everything. With a single eSIM, you'll have coverage wherever you sail, no physical SIM card is required, and you can easily stay in contact with your loved ones back home. 

Happy sailing! Check out the Airalo store for eSIM data plans and instant connectivity.

Ready to try eSIMs and change the way you stay connected?

Download the Airalo app to purchase, manage, and top up your eSIMs anytime, anywhere!

Airalo | Download mobile app
Airalo | Use your Free Credit

Use Your Free Credit.

You can earn USD $3.00 in Airmoney by sharing your referral code with friends.