Best Walkie-Talkie (2-way radio)???

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#1
275 Posts
Joined Aug 2005
I would like to hear from those who have actually used various walkie-talkies on large cruise ships. In particular, I would like to know how GMRS/FRS walkies compare to eXRS walkies, as far as range.

I have used GMRS walkies on past cruises, but as the ships have become larger I have had to get walkies with greater range. Now, I can find only one walkie of the best pair that I have, so I am going to have to get another pair. I am considering eXRS, because of they offer less interference. However, I am concerned that they may not have the range of a high-end GMRS walkie, on a large cruise ship.

We typically get a suite, high up, facing aft. That means that we often need to communicate the full length of the ship and maybe even several decks down, at the same time. To us, RANGE is much more important than privacy or lack of interference.

I know that the range claims of manufacturers are hugely exaggerated. However, I do know that a GMRS walkie that claims 20 miles or so, will do the job, albeit with the possibility of lots of interference, what with more and more people using those walkies.

The eXRS walkies "claim" up to 30 mile range. However, since they operate on a different frequency range, you can't even use that as a comparison with the GMRS range claims. They might work better or worse, through steel. If I can get an eXRS walkie that will do as well, on board a large cruise ship, as the last GMRS walkies that I had, then I will opt for that one. But, if an eXRS walkie can't communicate from the aft top deck bar, all the way to the forward main theater, then they won't work for us.

BTW, since the only place that I ever use these walkies is on a cruise ship, I don't care about licensing requirements. Once you are at sea, the licensing requirements mean nothing.

Does anyone have any hands-on experience with eXRS walkies on large cruise ships? Better yet, does anyone have any practical experience using BOTH eXRS and GMRS walkies on large cruise ships and can provide a real-life comparison?

Thanks.
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#2
Beijing, China
1,239 Posts
Joined Apr 2002
Motorola PRO5150 UHF is ithe best choice for shipboard use.
That's why most cruise lines use them for internal communications.
#3
424 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Umm, that's a commerical UHF radio - probably out of reach to the average GMRS/FRS radio crowd. (About $250 per radio or more)

1. It's not type accepted for FRS use in the United States.
2. It's a PC-programmed Part 90 type radio.

WIth that being said, I used an Icom F4 UHF walkie talkie, programmed into the ham radio bands on my last cruise. I was able to keep comms with my wife from one end of the ship to the other and thru multiple decks.
#4
Maryland
3,173 Posts
Joined May 2005
I assume we are talking about FCC-regulated (i.e. U.S.) radios and frequencies in this thread. What about in Europe?
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#5
275 Posts
Joined Aug 2005
Originally posted by Philip217
Motorola PRO5150 UHF is ithe best choice for shipboard use.
That's why most cruise lines use them for internal communications.
I am aware of the commercial UHF radios. However, since the only time that I would use such radios is onboard a cruise ship, I would prefer to keep the price down. Most commercial radios start at $250 and go up rather dramatically, from there.

Therefore, the much less expensive GMRS or eXRS walkies are much better, for that limited purpose.

Besides, my old high powered GMRS walkies worked just fine on large cruise ships, from end-to-end and top-to-bottom, before I lost one of them. The only problem was interference from the other 500 or so similar walkies on the ship at the same time. Sometimes, you have to wait till some other traveler gets off of your frequency. That's why I am considering a pair of eXRS frequency-hopping walkies. I just don't know if their signal will have the same reach as our old GMRS walkies.

I will take range over lack of interference. But, I would like to have both, if that is possible. If eXRS will provide the same or better range, compared to GMRS, then I will go with eXRS, because of the lack of interference. But, range is the key.

BTW, I know that the GMRS frequencies are in the 460MHz range, while the eXRS frequencies are in the 900MHz range - the same as many US cordless phones and use Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) technology, to avoid interference. Because the two operating frequency bands are so close, within the UHF frequencies, I suspect that the range on board will probably be very similar, for similarly powered units. I just need to confirm this.

Originally posted by Terpnut
I assume we are talking about FCC-regulated (i.e. U.S.) radios and frequencies in this thread. What about in Europe?
Every country has different radio laws and allocates frequencies differently. That said, I think that most "developed" countries have adopted the GMRS frequencies for personal radio use. Licensing however, varies from country to country. For example, the USA still requires an $85 license for GMRS, while I believe that Canada does not. Check the laws in your own country.

There are countries that do not follow the spreading GMRS convention. One that comes to mind is Colombia. I believe that GMRS radios use some of the same or close to the same frequencies as some of their military radios.

Now considering all that, if the only place that you intend to use it is onboard a cruise ship, at sea, you might want to consider that it is extremely unlikely that the FCC or any other country's radio enforcement body is going to chase down a cruise ship, miles from any land, where there are probably more than 500 people using such radios on board. Think about it...

If however, you are planning to use them on shore, at home or abroad, you should check the local laws regarding GMRS (or eXRS) radio use.
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#6
Maryland
3,173 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by Ferrets
Every country has different radio laws and allocates frequencies differently. That said, I think that most "developed" countries have adopted the GMRS frequencies for personal radio use. Licensing however, varies from country to country. For example, the USA still requires an $85 license for GMRS, while I believe that Canada does not. Check the laws in your own country.
My understanding is that most European countries do not allow GMRS frequencies for personal radio use.
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#7
424 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Ferret:

The radio characteristics of 460mhz radio vs 900mhz radio are not going to be the same.

I find that 900mhz is very "line-of-sighty" over 460mhz and is more prone to signal reflection and absobtion than 460mhz.

With all of that steel, I don't think you're going to get the range that you think you would. Plus, you're dealing with 1watt or less radio. 1 watt at 900mhz. It will perform about as well as your 900mhz cordless phone does.

In short, give them a shot, but I don't think you're going to be happy with them.
#8
San Antonio spaceship earth
6,765 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
FRS/GMRS radios are not allowed in Europe. In several countries that frequency range is used for emergency crews. If you interfere with their communications, you could cause a loss of life.

As already mentioned, eXRS radios are 1 watt. GMRS radios can be up to 5 watts and therefore a lot more powerful. The suggestion that 460 Mhz is not that much different than 900 Mhz is wrong. The eXRS radio band is 2x the frequency of the FRS/GMRS band. As you go higher in frequency, the signal does not travel as well and becomes more susceptable to interference from objects such as metal in this case.

If you have had an older 900 Mhz FHSS cordless phone that typically used about 1/2 watt (~500 mw), then you know about the eXRS capabilities. The range of a radio wave is proportional to the square of the power. In other words if I wanted to double the range (2x), I would have to increase the power 4x. Increasing the power from 500 mwatts to 1 watt will not double the range! The eXRS radio's 1 watt will increase the range over a FHSS cordless phone by about 1.4. Remember that most houses are made out of wood and not steel like a cruise ship. Metal is used to control or eliminate RF waves. Not a good situation for communicating on a ship.
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#9
Annapolis, Maryland
367 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by Ferrets
I would like to hear from those who have actually used various walkie-talkies on large cruise ships. In particular, I would like to know how GMRS/FRS walkies compare to eXRS walkies, as far as range.

I have used GMRS walkies on past cruises, but as the ships have become larger I have had to get walkies with greater range. Now, I can find only one walkie of the best pair that I have, so I am going to have to get another pair. I am considering eXRS, because of they offer less interference. However, I am concerned that they may not have the range of a high-end GMRS walkie, on a large cruise ship.

We typically get a suite, high up, facing aft. That means that we often need to communicate the full length of the ship and maybe even several decks down, at the same time. To us, RANGE is much more important than privacy or lack of interference.

I know that the range claims of manufacturers are hugely exaggerated. However, I do know that a GMRS walkie that claims 20 miles or so, will do the job, albeit with the possibility of lots of interference, what with more and more people using those walkies.

The eXRS walkies "claim" up to 30 mile range. However, since they operate on a different frequency range, you can't even use that as a comparison with the GMRS range claims. They might work better or worse, through steel. If I can get an eXRS walkie that will do as well, on board a large cruise ship, as the last GMRS walkies that I had, then I will opt for that one. But, if an eXRS walkie can't communicate from the aft top deck bar, all the way to the forward main theater, then they won't work for us.

BTW, since the only place that I ever use these walkies is on a cruise ship, I don't care about licensing requirements. Once you are at sea, the licensing requirements mean nothing.

Does anyone have any hands-on experience with eXRS walkies on large cruise ships? Better yet, does anyone have any practical experience using BOTH eXRS and GMRS walkies on large cruise ships and can provide a real-life comparison?

Thanks.

We use, and very successfully, Motorola RDU 2080 Radios. It is an 8 channel UHF, portable radios. 450/470 MHz range. The programming is available for free from Motorola or you can use the stock channels that come in it. My DH wanted specific channels so he requested the free programming from Motorola and programmed ours himself. I am sure that if you had any questions he would answer you.
The radios are great they are small, easy to carry and the signals go through the steel bulkheads and decks so we can always hear each other. He always uses digital code squelch for privacy. We love them and use them often. Please let me know if you have any questions, and I hope that this has been of some assistance to you.
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#10
Scotland
530 Posts
Joined May 2007
I can hardly believe what I`m reading here. Using walkie talkies onboard? Whats wrong with good old fashioned making plans for rendezvous and sticking to them. You would be very unpopular with Europeans if you tried this over here. You`re on holiday not planning military operations!
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#11
82 Posts
Joined Nov 2001
Originally posted by Nippy Sweetie
You would be very unpopular with Europeans if you tried this over here.
Quite the opposite.

I'm from Canada but live in Europe for most of the last 15 years, and I can tell you that the average European, compared to most Canadian and Americans, is much less uptight over what other people do.

In Europe you would likely find that most people would not care. Worrying about how other people should live their lives is much less a part of european culture than it is of North American culture, despite our assertions of North America being the lands of freedom.
#12
Arizona/Missouri
14,848 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
Please, for the sanity of other passengers, leave the d**** walkie talkies at home or only take them on shore. REALLY, REALLY irritating.

As Nippy Sweetie posted, you aren't planning a military operation. Make do with post it notes and advance planning. Those things should be banned on cruise ships.
#13
Klein, Texas
6,074 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
They are a complete waste of time to bring on ships. If you have to be in constant contact with someone while on vacation than you are probably better off staying home.
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#14
Maryland
3,173 Posts
Joined May 2005
Why is it any more unreasonable to want to communicate while on vacation aboard a cruise ship versus wanting to communicate while on vacation in California or at a resort, for example, or even when you're not on vacation? And if the real issue is the manner in which they are being used (i.e. they disturb you in some fashion), then let's not lecture people and "work the problem" by discussing the courteous and non-annoying ways to properly use radios, such as exhibiting courtesy, and using the radio's silent modes and headsets. Hmmm, sounds like the same problem as mobile or cell phone use!

I don't understand why some of you all heap all this venom on radio users while most of the civilized world routinely finds unsafe and/or irritating uses for the ubiquitous mobile phone. And everyone one of us who makes or takes a call in the presence of others, does so knowing that it is a bit inconsiderate and potentially annoying to others.
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#15
Annapolis, Maryland
367 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by Nippy Sweetie
I can hardly believe what I`m reading here. Using walkie talkies on-board? Whats wrong with good old fashioned making plans for rendezvous and sticking to them. You would be very unpopular with Europeans if you tried this over here. You`re on holiday not planning military operations!
That is not your business or mine the OP asked a legitimate question about radios and which type of radio he would have the most success with on a large cruise ship. It is a perfectly legitimately question.


My DH and I use radios when we cruise, always. IF you feel that it is your business I will tell you why. We like to do different things while we on on-board. I like to go to the different pools and spas while on-board and my DH likes to walk around, explore the ship and also to sit on our balcony and read. I don't know what time we are going to want to have lunch, I don't want to plan lunch as soon as I am finished breakfast, I am on vacation, I DON'T WANT TO MAKE PLANS AT ALL, I don't know when we will be hungry. We have radios that have privacy squelch, no one else hears us, we have ear plugs, if I bother you I will apologize. There have been times when my DH wants to find me, so he calls and asks where I am and vice versa. If I get hungry, I ask when he would like to do lunch. We own these radios and we have the right to use them if we want to.
We do NOT "smuggle illegal aboard"
We do NOT "share soda cards" which is stealing.
We DO dress properly on Formal Night(s)
We do NOT smoke, so we are not burning holes in other passengers clothing or eyes
We do NOT hog lounge chairs at the pool.
We DO tip properly.
We always try to be polite to all of our fellow passengers.

As far as I know 2 way radios are permitted on-board cruise ships. We do our very best not to "bother" other passengers when we use them. Therefore we will continue to use them.

You act like you are the only person that has ever traveled outside of the U.S. We spent a great deal of time on the mainland of Italy and in Sicily, and in Japan. We did not use these radios in those countries as we did not own them then, nor did we have any use for them. Cell phones were a lot cheaper there and in Italy and Japan EVERYONE has cell phones and uses them ALL of the time. In fact in Japan you use your cell phone to purchase items from machines, such as canned, hot espresso drinks, cold soda (all from the same machines), etc. IF our cell phones were that cheap to use on a cruise ship we would use our phones instead of radios, but.....
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#16
Southwest Florida
741 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
We use them too, but I simply purchased an inexpensive pair of Audiovox ones and they work just fine. It's a great way to keep in touch if you're doing separate things and need to check in.
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#17
275 Posts
Joined Aug 2005
Originally posted by Nippy Sweetie
I can hardly believe what I`m reading here. Using walkie talkies onboard? Whats wrong with good old fashioned making plans for rendezvous and sticking to them. You would be very unpopular with Europeans if you tried this over here. You`re on holiday not planning military operations!
Hello???!

I think you have the whole concept of "making plans" turned on its head.

My wife and I spend most of our working lives "making plans" and living according to strict schedules. One of the reasons why we go on vacation, is so we can have a brief respite from "making plans". OK. So we have to be back on board by 5:30 and dinner is at 8:00. But beyond that, we have no schedule. In fact, we often have dinner in the specialty restaurants, at a different time or have it served in our suite. Plans - shmans... we're on vacation. "We don't need no stinking plans."

As for Europeans being upset with two-way radios, you have it all backwards again. We just moved back from living in Europe just over a year ago. While we were living there, we took a 12 day Med cruise. We saw at least as many two-way radios on that cruise as we usually see on other cruises and most of the people on that ship were Europeans. In fact, some of the Europeans carried much more powerful, commercial two-way radios, that are legal for Americans, only with an expensive license. It seems that Europeans like their modern technology and the freedom that it affords them from having to "make plans", just as much as Americans.

The arguments against two-way radios are just the old cell phone arguments, but with a slightly different spin. It all comes down to the fact that people who don't embrace technology, are upset when the rest of the world does. So, they complain. People who complain about me talking on the phone while I drive, with both hands on the wheel, while looking straight ahead, think nothing of much worse distractions, such as repeatedly turning around to reprimand a child in the back seat, while driving, routinely looking down to flip through radio stations or change a CD, while driving, drinking coffee, while driving or even carrying on a conversation with others in the car and looking at those others when addressing them, while driving. It seems to be pretty clear that it's really our use of technology that bothers them.

I don't mind if some people don't want to embrace new technologies that make our lives easier. That's their right. Why should they mind if most of the rest of us do? After all, that's our right.

My wife and I go on cruises for, among other things, to get away from "making plans" and dealing with rigorous agendas. Without our two-way radios, we would be back to "making plans" and dealing with those rigorous agendas from which we are trying to escape. Our two-way radios help us to relax. That's what cruising is all about, anyway. Those who don't use two-way radios, should try them. It really does help - that is, unless you just don't have enough "making plans" and regimentation in your life.
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#18
Texas Gulf Coast
2,614 Posts
Joined Nov 2002
We've had experience for about 12 cruises with radios as our daughter grew up cruising.

The first ones we tried were the FMRS models from Motorola. While nice looking and easy to use we might as well have thrown them at each other. As you know they are lesser powered and have limited range. We gave them to the neighbor kids about 4 hours after we left the ship.

Second investment was a FMRS/GMRS set of Motorola radios. We bought the US license and found them incredibly valuable for our cruises for the next several years.

Over time we found uses for them at church for audio ministry stuff and festivals and have added two other pairs to the collection. The most recent ones claim a 12 mile range on land, but we know they all have the same wattage. They work splendid from cabin to lido deck and other public areas of the ship.

One note; cruise lines sell FMRS/GMRS combo radios in the gift shop. Not sure about those in European port rotation, but we have seen them on three cruise lines.

Recently I added Vertex/Standard 5 watt UHF 8 channel radios to the mix. Not one beep prior/after radio transmission and really amazing on the ship, in ports and from ship to port if we are shopping close to the pier.

I use these radios for a small business I own and while not cheap, they are rugged, have great battery life and can be carried in a pocket under a casual shirt for men.

A very informative gentleman with a lenghty history of military and amateur radio use posts here sometimes in response to the OP questions and perhaps he can share a better educated answer.

My only question about a radio that transmits on ham bands is listed (or was) in the prohibited items for bringing aboard ship. Might be worth checking

.


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#19
Mission, TX
3,092 Posts
Joined Dec 2003
Originally posted by Ferrets
I would like to hear from those who have actually used various walkie-talkies on large cruise ships. In particular, I would like to know how GMRS/FRS walkies compare to eXRS walkies, as far as range.

I have used GMRS walkies on past cruises, but as the ships have become larger I have had to get walkies with greater range. Now, I can find only one walkie of the best pair that I have, so I am going to have to get another pair. I am considering eXRS, because of they offer less interference. However, I am concerned that they may not have the range of a high-end GMRS walkie, on a large cruise ship.

We typically get a suite, high up, facing aft. That means that we often need to communicate the full length of the ship and maybe even several decks down, at the same time. To us, RANGE is much more important than privacy or lack of interference.

I know that the range claims of manufacturers are hugely exaggerated. However, I do know that a GMRS walkie that claims 20 miles or so, will do the job, albeit with the possibility of lots of interference, what with more and more people using those walkies.

The eXRS walkies "claim" up to 30 mile range. However, since they operate on a different frequency range, you can't even use that as a comparison with the GMRS range claims. They might work better or worse, through steel. If I can get an eXRS walkie that will do as well, on board a large cruise ship, as the last GMRS walkies that I had, then I will opt for that one. But, if an eXRS walkie can't communicate from the aft top deck bar, all the way to the forward main theater, then they won't work for us.

BTW, since the only place that I ever use these walkies is on a cruise ship, I don't care about licensing requirements. Once you are at sea, the licensing requirements mean nothing.

Does anyone have any hands-on experience with eXRS walkies on large cruise ships? Better yet, does anyone have any practical experience using BOTH eXRS and GMRS walkies on large cruise ships and can provide a real-life comparison?

Thanks.
We gave up on the walkie talkies - we found them to be a pain in the butt - and we did think they distrubed others.

We carry our cell phones for emergency use only - and we've never used them except for the one time we checked to make sure the calls would go through. We do set rendezvous times and check in schedules and everything else that makes sense when you're dealing with kids.

We also agreed on a "single ring/ Hang-up" as a reminder in case our kids were late. But we never needed that either.

I know the cell phones can get expensive - but we could make quite a few emergency calls for the cost of a set of decent walkie-talkies.
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#20
Scotland
530 Posts
Joined May 2007
2Sunny
"You act like you are the only person that has ever travelled outside of the U.S. "
Some of us actually have lived outside America all our lives. We are what are called non americans- an incredible concept for some on this forum apparently! I have travelled to america & Canada though. West and East coast of both. Europe & north america certainly are " 2 nations separated by a common language"
I will definitely give American ships a wide berth in future (although there do seem to be some considerate cruisers who got my point.)
Roger and out!
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Previous cruises: QE2 X3, Viking Pride X1, Arcadia X1, Avalon Scenery X1, Avalon Creativity X1, QVX1. Viking Douro X1