I recently returned from Italy that included traveling to the Dolomites and Sicily (Oct 2014). I purchased the VZN International plan (less than 30 days) for $4.99. I would pay $0.99 cents per minute vs. $1.29 and about $0.50 cents for each text sent and/or received. They sent the specs in a fairly simple to read document describing global rates, in my case for Italy. I planned only to use the phone, less than 30 days, for emergencies, to advise family and/or perhaps to verify hotel and plane reservations. Peace of mind more than anything. I had talked to VZN customer services numerous times (just to see if their responses were consistent). They were and they assured me the phone would work fine and it did not need to be "unlocked". Supposedly it would be ready to go when I got in the country. I turned the phone off while flying and when I landed in Milan and turned it on, it recognized the time change, etc.. AND THE PHONE WORKED GREAT the entire trip!
I was skeptical because other reviews and comments, including Rick Steves travel info, described service with VZN as not being good...if you got service at all. I'm thinking that with the recent VODOPHONE/VZN partnership, calls bounced from those towers, somewhat mystically to find a VZN tower. I'm not sure about that but the few calls I made to the US plus those in Italy proper, produced prompt connections and clear voice articulation. Easily as good as using the device in the US.
I did not want to get hit with roaming charges and did not want to use my data plan; only WIFI if I needed to look up something, etc.. Customer service even went through the settings on my LGG2 to make sure I would not have "unexpected charges". Of course if I accidentally turned something on, I'd likely incur additional charges. I didn't. And the LGG2 found WIFI whenever I needed.
I also ask.... what if the phone doesn't work or I can't get a signal once I land? Customer Services recommended that I immediately contact their 24/7 contact number and advise them BEFORE I tried anything further. It didn't happen in my case but FYI....I was told if you don't call but instead continue to rack up time fooling with the phone etc., you could incur a hefty bill that might otherwise have been avoided or at least mitigated had you notified VZN first.
I was truly surprised and pleased with my first VZN international calling in Italy. Would like to think I'd find the same in other parts of Europe. Who knows, but I'm not as worried about the possibility of good service in England and maybe Ireland?
Unfortunately you will not find the same thing in other parts of Europe. Europe is great in some ways as far as Phone not being proprietary but the phone will work on and off intermittently depending on the contracts with the companies in Europe. as you travel around Europe some of these companies will charge you $20 to connect and $20 a megabit. it varies so wildly that you're better off just buying an unlocked GPS phone and putting European simms in it as you travel.
Verizon has greatly improved its European service over the years however. that much is true as it gains new contracts with CDMA companies.