Alternative to cell phones abroad/on cruise?
May 13, 2012 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Alternative to cell phones abroad/on cruise?

Going on a cruise to several different countries in europe with some friends. Is there a way to keep communication lines open without paying crazy fees.

While communication on the cruise isn't overly important, we want to be able to keep in touch when visiting the different countries.

-Swapping out SIM cards isn't an option
-Some type of heavy duty walkie talkie?
posted by telsa to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you have iPhones and the cruise has Wifi coverage, you can keep in touch with iMessages.
posted by telegraph at 2:28 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I clicked in reading about alternatives to suggest an Iridium phone, but it's pricey. The only inexpensive alternative I've heard of is a local sim. There may be international sims that have a reasonable rate. Perhaps a Kindle for short emails?
posted by sammyo at 3:11 PM on May 13, 2012

Try MaxRoam. You switch out the SIM card ONCE before your trip and you're good in all the different countries. Roaming is 49 cents per mb and prepaid.
posted by reformedjerk at 3:20 PM on May 13, 2012

Maybe investigate the option of prepaid European cell phones that would work in multiple countries?

Telegraph has a good point - iMessages are a great idea (or text messages via google voice, which uses data instead of cell phone minutes).
posted by kdern at 3:30 PM on May 13, 2012

Use skype on your phone or computer.
posted by unreasonable at 3:37 PM on May 13, 2012

If you all have smartphones, you could use Whatsapp. You'd want an international data plan for your phones, though there's hardly any data involved, or restrict your messaging to wifi.
posted by ceiba at 3:48 PM on May 13, 2012

I recomend walkie talkies.
Walkie talkies these days with 20 or 30 miles range (line of sight, that drops to a fraction of that in a city) are cheap and often not a lot more bulky than cellphones.
They're also fantastic for groups, because it's a party line - when you transmit, everyone in the group with a transceiver hears the message. (They often also include scrambling codes so only members of the group get the message.) You can get headsets for them too.
They're also useful in day to day life - if you're out hiking beyond cell range, or in a blackout, etc, so it wouldn't be a throwaway expense, except perhaps:

A limitation may be that I think the EU and USA use different frequencies, so if you buy a set in one place, you can use it there, but it may not be legal to use it in the other place.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:46 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd definitely go with GMRS walkie-talkies which have an over 30 mile range. Much more suited to the kinds of communication you're looking to do. Much cheaper than cells of any kind, much more reliable, and much better battery life.
posted by odinsdream at 5:51 PM on May 13, 2012

Go with walkies. Many cruise ships have their own cell network/wifi (shows as "Ocean" on mine) so no local SIM is possible and the roaming is CRAZY expensive.
posted by saradarlin at 6:17 PM on May 13, 2012

Strongly agreed on the walkie talkies. I do NOT recommend iMessage, because in order to use that you'll have to keep your phone on the network, and ship wifi is also typically charged by the minute, at around $1/minute. Also, if some schmuck calls you, you'll get hit with $2.50/minute phone charges -- even if you let it go to voice mail.
posted by CruiseSavvy at 7:20 AM on May 14, 2012

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