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Has anyone successfully used walkie talkies in a cruise? Ones that work REALLY well? Would like to take them on cruise with the kids to keep in touch.

what brand and model? Trying not to break the bank...

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Unfortunately, there aren't any that work.

 

The ship's metal infrastructure doesn't allow for them. The ones that the crew use connect to internal repeaters.

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There are dozens of threads here on walkie talkies. Agree with 1025cruise, they really don't work all that well. And they annoy the heck out of your fellow pax. You don't need 24/7 communication.

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The answer to your question is no.  They do not work well and only have a very limited on board range due to, as mentioned, the significant steel structure on board.  The ones that the ship crew use are expensive and function because there are transmitter repeaters tied to a dedicated ship frequency that are located throughout the ship.  But this is a dedicated frequency for crew use only and not commercially available to you.

 

What winds up happening is the passengers who have them typically spend a lot of time talking very loudly into them trying to get them to work frequently saying - as the cell phone commercial used to say - "Can you hear me now?  Over!"  With the squelch and static of the electronics punctuating every repeated loud attempt.  The typical result is that the only people hearing your conversation are the other passengers around you.  This is very annoying to the other passengers.

 

The other concern is that walkie talkies are prohibited on many of the islands due to interference with other official frequencies in use.

 

The ships are not that large to require that form of communication to keep in touch and in short order you will find the likely places where your kids will be at any given time.  There are also many less invasive ways to keep in touch. Many ships provide connectivity through their wifi systems and smart phones.  You can discuss plans over meals or in your staterooms and set guidelines and rendezvous places and times.  Most cruise lines have children's programs through which your kids can meet others and be in coordinated, planned activities.  There are house phones to leave voice messages in your rooms.  You can us post it notes on the doors.  Etc., etc.

 

My suggestion is, since they don't work well, don't buy any in the first place and - as most families on board do as a result - determine other equally effective ways to communicate on board.  Our three children grew up cruising with us and we never took walkie talkies on board or felt the need to use them.

Edited by leaveitallbehind

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My only experience with walkie talkies is listening to those using them. "Mary?  Mary?!!  Are you there?  Can you hear me? Mary?!"

 

:classic_biggrin:

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Walkie talkies are the easiest thing for kids to just turn off and claim, "nope, never heard you".

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thanks everyone!  my boys are only 9, so no they will not have phones for wifi... also I do plan to only leave them in kids club... they will not have free roam of the ship... this is their 5th cruise but we are traveling with another family whose kids are cruising for the  first time... we were trying to find a way for all of us to stay in touch but I remember trying walkie talkies once and it not working well.... just thought I would check here in case anything had improved... THANKS!!

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1 hour ago, crui5eg1rl said:

thanks everyone!  my boys are only 9, so no they will not have phones for wifi... also I do plan to only leave them in kids club... they will not have free roam of the ship... this is their 5th cruise but we are traveling with another family whose kids are cruising for the  first time... we were trying to find a way for all of us to stay in touch but I remember trying walkie talkies once and it not working well.... just thought I would check here in case anything had improved... THANKS!!

 

You don't say what line you are going to be on.  Most mainstream lines have a phone app which will allow messaging between guests.  For kids who don't have phones, it is very inexpensive to purchase a used phone (you don't need a phone plan, it just needs to be able to attach to wifi), download the app, and use it.  On Carnival it is the HUB app and the messaging feature is $5 per device for the entire cruise.  I know that Princess, NCL, and RCL all have similar applications.

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I believe NCL and RCL have what they call dect phone.  You can check them out at guest services. They are not really walkie talkies; they are a phone that can call directly to any cabin on the ship.  I have personally used Motorolla walkie talkies;  they cost around $100 for the pair and they worked pretty well on my cruise.  However now I use the ships intranet to txt back and forth;  Princess new medallion program has a chat app that is made just for use onboard their ships.

Edited by AF-1

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As stated, your standard two ways just aren't powerful enough to work. What you'll discover is no matter the size of the ship, it's not that big. Depending on the time of day, you'll find your party will only be in a handful of locations. Never took me longer than 10 minutes to find someone.

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10 hours ago, crui5eg1rl said:

Has anyone successfully used walkie talkies in a cruise? Ones that work REALLY well? Would like to take them on cruise with the kids to keep in touch.

what brand and model? Trying not to break the bank...

Yes, I have used portable radios on a ship that worked well. However, they were expensive, high power VHF/UHF radios that utilised the ship's repeater system.

 

However, without access to the ship's repeater system, even expensive portable radios will be minimally useful. So from experience, consumer walkie talkies do not work.

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1 hour ago, Heidi13 said:

Yes, I have used portable radios on a ship that worked well. However, they were expensive, high power VHF/UHF radios that utilised the ship's repeater system.

 

However, without access to the ship's repeater system, even expensive portable radios will be minimally useful. So from experience, consumer walkie talkies do not work.

Do you own a cruise ship?  I'm just wondering how it is you get use of the ship's repeater system.

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8 minutes ago, fyree39 said:

Do you own a cruise ship?  I'm just wondering how it is you get use of the ship's repeater system.

I believe Captains get to use the repeater systems, right @Heidi13?

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14 hours ago, crui5eg1rl said:

Has anyone successfully used walkie talkies in a cruise? Ones that work REALLY well? Would like to take them on cruise with the kids to keep in touch.

what brand and model? Trying not to break the bank...

 

When our kids were small/young we tried the walkie talkies.  Couldn't give you any specs other than we probably got them at Radio Shack.  They worked, even between decks, but it was pretty sketchy.  We took several family group cruises with kiddies.  We never took the walkie talkies after that one time.   Just wasn't worth it to us.   

 

PS: Apparently others have different experiences but I cannot remember having ever been bothered by them on a cruise.  

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2 hours ago, fyree39 said:

Do you own a cruise ship?  I'm just wondering how it is you get use of the ship's repeater system.

Not hard to figure out...Heidi13 was an officer on a cruise ship.

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Since nobody appears to know what a repeater is. A network of antennas hardwired to each other about every 50 feet on each deck. A low powered radio transmission (most likely a UHF) is picked up and is rebroadcast throughout the ship. It is passive and can't be overloaded. System is setup to rebroadcast only certain frequencies the ship has set. Your common walkie talkie uses the same channels CB radios use.

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8 hours ago, fyree39 said:

Do you own a cruise ship?  I'm just wondering how it is you get use of the ship's repeater system.

 

6 hours ago, CruiserBruce said:

Not hard to figure out...Heidi13 was an officer on a cruise ship.

Well, in addition to the secret handshake, they give you a radio with the proper frequencies, and a piece of white label tape on it.  Mine said "Chief Engineer", and Heidi13's said "Captain".  :classic_tongue:

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At age 9, they should either be in the kid's club or with you. Maybe a quick trip to the soft serve machine but definitely not off roaming the ship. For adults, you can leave messages on cabin phones. Post it notes also work. You can meet for breakfast and discuss your plans for the day - e.g., going to the pool, then plan to have lunch at noon, then going to trivia. Been cruising with kids long before technology took over. This stuff works. 

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12 hours ago, jlp20 said:

Since nobody appears to know what a repeater is. A network of antennas hardwired to each other about every 50 feet on each deck. A low powered radio transmission (most likely a UHF) is picked up and is rebroadcast throughout the ship. It is passive and can't be overloaded. System is setup to rebroadcast only certain frequencies the ship has set. Your common walkie talkie uses the same channels CB radios use.

 

 

Not exactly.

 

There are passive and active repeaters.

 

Passive repeaters are like you say, just antennas that are connected.  Anything received on one antenna is transmitted (and very low power) on the others.  Most are only two antennas.  Many more and the signal strength gets VERY low (received power divided by the number of antennas minus losses in the cables).  With the size of the ship and the number of antennas needed, I doubt these would work.  But will see what Chengkp75 says.

 

More common are active repeaters.  These are transmitters and receivers around.  On a ship, they would be linked, so that anything receive by one, would be actively transmitted by all the others.  Most times, these use two frequencies, one for receiving (at the repeater, transmitted from the hand held) and the other is used to transmit (from the repeater and received by the hand held) so everything happens at once (Person A talks, every other person listens and hears as they talk).  
 

There are single frequency repeaters that record what is said, then rebroadcast, but they are rare these days.

 

And no, common walkie talkies do NOT use CB frequencies.  CB frequencies are High Frequency (HF), in the 11 Meter band, around 26  MHz.  CB is also AM or SSB mode of transmission.

 

FRS and GMRS radios (and ship hand helds) are VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency). If for no other reason that antenna length.  In the days of CB hand helds, the antennas were several feet long.     Radios in these ranges are typically FM mode of transmission.  They are in the 462 MHz to 467 MHz range.

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15 hours ago, jlp20 said:

Since nobody appears to know what a repeater is. A network of antennas hardwired to each other about every 50 feet on each deck. A low powered radio transmission (most likely a UHF) is picked up and is rebroadcast throughout the ship. It is passive and can't be overloaded. System is setup to rebroadcast only certain frequencies the ship has set. Your common walkie talkie uses the same channels CB radios use.

I thought repeaters were beans? 

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On 2/13/2019 at 6:39 PM, Elaine5715 said:

I believe Captains get to use the repeater systems, right @Heidi13?

HaHa, most definitely, but it is one of the few remaining perks. However it is a perk available to the Captain & Chief Engineer that we kept from the owners.😁

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8 hours ago, SRF said:

 

 

Not exactly.

 

There are passive and active repeaters.

 

Passive repeaters are like you say, just antennas that are connected.  Anything received on one antenna is transmitted (and very low power) on the others.  Most are only two antennas.  Many more and the signal strength gets VERY low (received power divided by the number of antennas minus losses in the cables).  With the size of the ship and the number of antennas needed, I doubt these would work.  But will see what Chengkp75 says.

 

More common are active repeaters.  These are transmitters and receivers around.  On a ship, they would be linked, so that anything receive by one, would be actively transmitted by all the others.  Most times, these use two frequencies, one for receiving (at the repeater, transmitted from the hand held) and the other is used to transmit (from the repeater and received by the hand held) so everything happens at once (Person A talks, every other person listens and hears as they talk).  
 

There are single frequency repeaters that record what is said, then rebroadcast, but they are rare these days.

 

And no, common walkie talkies do NOT use CB frequencies.  CB frequencies are High Frequency (HF), in the 11 Meter band, around 26  MHz.  CB is also AM or SSB mode of transmission.

 

FRS and GMRS radios (and ship hand helds) are VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency). If for no other reason that antenna length.  In the days of CB hand helds, the antennas were several feet long.     Radios in these ranges are typically FM mode of transmission.  They are in the 462 MHz to 467 MHz range.

ChEng can better discuss the systems on modern cruise ships, but on my Ro/Pax we installed a toned repeater system, with active repeaters. Repeater system aerials were installed on every deck about 150 to 200 ft apart, depending on amount of steel bulkheads.

 

The Captain and Officers carried high/low power, dual band marine VHF and UHF frequencies. The ratings and hotel staff received low powered UHF radios. All portable radios assigned to a specific ship were toned for that ship's repeater system. When a radio was keyed, it emitted a tone and radio identifier. The tone opened the repeater system, which rebroadcast the transmission ship wide. The Master Receiver on the Bridge also displayed the identifier of each radio transmitting.

 

When using UHF without the repeater system, I believe it is a simplex system, but once we accessed the repeater, it was a duplex system, with separate Rx & Tx frequencies.

 

Without the correct tone, even radios with the correct UHF frequency could not access the repeater system.

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6 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

ChEng can better discuss the systems on modern cruise ships, but on my Ro/Pax we installed a toned repeater system, with active repeaters. Repeater system aerials were installed on every deck about 150 to 200 ft apart, depending on amount of steel bulkheads.

 

The Captain and Officers carried high/low power, dual band marine VHF and UHF frequencies. The ratings and hotel staff received low powered UHF radios. All portable radios assigned to a specific ship were toned for that ship's repeater system. When a radio was keyed, it emitted a tone and radio identifier. The tone opened the repeater system, which rebroadcast the transmission ship wide. The Master Receiver on the Bridge also displayed the identifier of each radio transmitting.

 

When using UHF without the repeater system, I believe it is a simplex system, but once we accessed the repeater, it was a duplex system, with separate Rx & Tx frequencies.

 

Without the correct tone, even radios with the correct UHF frequency could not access the repeater system.

Not sure about the "locking" tone, never really cared to check since it always worked, but that is the system used on cruise ships.

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Tones are used to prevent others from accessing the repeater (but with limited tones, it is not a huge deal).

 

They can also be used to activate the system in certain ways.  If the system can tell which hand held has been keyed, it seems each radio had a tone that was used to ID the radio.  Modern radios can also send a digital ID as a burst when you key the transmitter.

 

On deck, I would suspect you might tend to use simplex, especially if it was for communications only for deck personnel.

 

You can do all sorts of things if you want.  You could set up a dual VHF and UHF system such that some radios (Captain) retransmits on both bands.

 

BTW, my knowledge of repeaters from from ham radio.

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Corre

14 hours ago, SRF said:

Tones are used to prevent others from accessing the repeater (but with limited tones, it is not a huge deal).

 

They can also be used to activate the system in certain ways.  If the system can tell which hand held has been keyed, it seems each radio had a tone that was used to ID the radio.  Modern radios can also send a digital ID as a burst when you key the transmitter.

 

On deck, I would suspect you might tend to use simplex, especially if it was for communications only for deck personnel.

 

You can do all sorts of things if you want.  You could set up a dual VHF and UHF system such that some radios (Captain) retransmits on both bands.

 

BTW, my knowledge of repeaters from from ham radio.

Correct - due to limited availability of UHF frequencies, for our entire fleet we only had 1 inter-ship and 1 intra-ship frequency.

 

Therefore, all ships used the same intra-ship UHF frequency. To manage internal communications, each ship was assigned a specific tone. All radios assigned to a ship were programmed with the correct tone, so only those radios could access the repeater system. If we were alongside another company ship, their radios could not access our repeater system.

 

To talk to another ship, we could disable the tone feature, which reverted to a simplex transmission.

 

While I had a dual band radio, I could not Tx on multiple bands or frequencies with a single transmission. 

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