The Best Walkie-Talkies for Cruise Ships: Everything You Need to Know

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Going on a cruise with your family and friends is fun, but have you ever lost track of where everyone is and got completely lost? You might think about sending messages online, but that means you have to pay for the ship’s WiFi, which can be expensive if you only use it to send messages.

Some cruise ships have their own messaging app for which you don’t need WiFi, but they’re not always great. Often, you have to keep checking the app to see if someone sent you a message. 

But what if you could use walkie-talkies to talk to each other anytime you want? 

A person's hand holding a yellow and black walkie-talkie against a blurred blue background.

This article I’ll cover the use of walkie-talkies on cruise ships, including information on whether they are allowed, the types that are best suited for use on board, and suggestions for the top models.

Are Walkie-Talkies Allowed on Cruise Ships?

You can usually bring walkie-talkies on cruise ships, but some restrictions exist. Most big cruise lines, like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line, and Princess, don’t mention walkie-talkies as prohibited items. However, NCL started banning walkie-talkies in July 2023.

Royal Caribbean even sells walkie-talkies in some of their onboard shops. But remember, not all walkie-talkies are the same. If you want to bring a GMRS walkie-talkie, ensure you have the required licence.

While on the cruise ship, be careful not to use a walkie-talkie that could interfere with the ship’s distress signals. There’s a story where people were asked to stop using 2-way radios on a certain frequency as it caused problems with the ship’s communication system.

Using walkie-talkies might not be allowed when you’re docked at a port. In some countries, you could accidentally use a frequency reserved for security and safety services, which would be against the law.

In short, bringing walkie-talkies on a cruise ship is generally allowed if they are FRS-type. However, check the specific cruise line’s rules before you sail and be mindful of the local laws when visiting ports.

A security guard in a white shirt with a badge labeled 'SECURITY' attentively uses a walkie-talkie, with computer monitors in the background, illustrating a professional in communication.

What Types of Walkie-Talkies Work on a Cruise Ship?

On a cruise ship, you can use two main types of walkie-talkies: Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). While GMRS devices offer better performance, you need a license to use them. Both types might have trouble working inside cabins but generally work better on decks and public areas.

FRS and GMRS Walkie-Talkies

FRS walkie-talkies were made for families to use easily and don’t interfere with essential services. They range from simple toys to good-quality gadgets that can work for a couple of miles.

GMRS walkie-talkies are more powerful and use frequencies between 462 MHz and 467 MHz. Governments regulate these frequencies because emergency services use them. You need a license to use GMRS devices in the US, costing around $80, and their use can be limited in some countries.

FRS devices use Very High Frequency (VHF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) bands. VHF works well over long distances and in open spaces, making them suitable for big events or ship-to-ship communication. UHF radios have a shorter range but work better indoors as they can go through solid surfaces like metal.

Choosing the Right Walkie-Talkie for a Cruise

The best walkie-talkie for a cruise is a GMRS one, but you must be careful with its use and need a license. The more common choice is a UHF FRS walkie-talkie.

It’s important to know that walkie-talkies may face some signal problems on cruise ships because of their metal structures. You might struggle using them inside your cabin, but they should work better in corridors or open public areas.

The main advantage of using FRS devices is that they don’t require a license. This means you can use them freely without worrying about getting into trouble with port authorities.

Two turquoise and black walkie-talkies with antennas up, placed side by side on a white background, showcasing the buttons and speaker design.

Should You Take Walkie-Talkies on a Cruise?

If you’re going on a cruise and expect to be separated from your group for various activities, walkie-talkies might be a good option for staying connected. Using Wi-Fi onboard can be pricey, as cruise lines often charge for the entire journey. Though some cruises offer their own messaging apps without Wi-Fi fees, these apps might not be efficient, often requiring frequent logins to check messages.

Instead of shelling out money for Wi-Fi or relying on ineffective apps, walkie-talkies can provide better communication on a cruise ship. However, keep in mind that others might be annoyed by walkie-talkie conversations, so:

  • Keep the volume low. Make sure your walkie-talkie isn’t too loud to avoid disturbing fellow passengers.
  • Use an earpiece. Opt for a walkie-talkie with an earpiece so that others aren’t forced to hear your chats.

1. Retevis RT22 Walkie-Talkies

The Retevis RT22 walkie-talkies are a fantastic choice when going on a cruise. They offer good battery life and are known to work well in enclosed indoor spaces. Although no walkie-talkie is perfect on a ship due to the metal, these walkie-talkies perform as well or even better than other similar devices.

Their slim and lightweight design makes them easy to carry around, either clipped onto a belt or placed in a pocket. The 6-pack is perfect for larger families, and the single docking station makes charging them a breeze.

On the downside, these walkie-talkies do not come with earpieces, but you can easily connect your own. Additionally, the belt clip can be a bit fiddly, and the instruction manual might be unclear. However, these are minor drawbacks compared to the benefits.

Pros

  • Works well in enclosed spaces
  • Slim and lightweight
  • Suitable for families with the 6-pack
  • Easy charging with a single docking station

Cons

  • No earpieces included
  • Tricky belt clip
  • Unclear instruction manual

In conclusion, the Retevis RT22 walkie-talkies are an excellent choice for keeping your family connected on a cruise due to their good range and user-friendly features.

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05/07/2024 04:29 am GMT

2. Pxton Walkie-Talkies

With Pxton walkie-talkies, you get good performance at a wallet-friendly cost. Though you might have to compromise on some features, the important ones like sound quality and range are not affected. They are capable of working over half a mile in busy spaces, like the inside of a ship.

Pxton walkie-talkies provide wraparound earpieces, an advantage over some pricey models. The earpieces are comfortable and won’t fall out easily. However, there are a few downsides:

  • Battery life is not very long
  • The build quality is average, so they might not handle too many falls
  • Charging requires separate battery chargers
  • Only two handsets are available
  • Antennae are quite big, making them less discreet

Despite these drawbacks, Pxton walkie-talkies still have their strengths:

  • A great blend of performance and affordability
  • Includes wraparound earpieces
  • The loudspeaker is potent

These walkie-talkies might feel inexpensive with average battery life, but they offer a good range and sound quality for the price. They’re definitely adequate for use on a cruise.

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05/07/2024 06:29 am GMT

3. Midland Two-Way GMRS Radio

The Midland GMRS two-way radio is excellent for those who want good performance and sound quality. This well-known brand provides crisp and sharp communication across a ship. However, don’t forget to obtain a license and avoid using it in ports to stay out of trouble.

These radios come with comfortable cushioned earpieces for better comfort. A single charging station is provided for your convenience, although you’ll need to charge the radios daily as the battery life isn’t impressive.

Be aware that the included accessories, such as the charger or cables, might not be as durable as the radio handsets themselves. You’ll receive only two handsets in the set.

Benefits:

  • Great performance and sound quality
  • Cushioned earpieces for added comfort
  • Convenient single charging station
  • Trustworthy brand

Drawbacks:

  • GMRS license needed to use radio channels
  • Legal issues are possible if used in port
  • Limited battery life
  • Lower-quality accessories
  • Only two handsets included

This Midland two-way radio is the most reliable choice among walkie-talkies. However, due to the need for a license and the potential legal issues in ports, it’s best suited for serious enthusiasts. Make sure to handle and use it responsibly.

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05/07/2024 05:59 am GMT

4. Four-colour Rechargeable Walkie-talkie Set

The Rechargeable Walkie-talkie 4-Pack is a good choice for families travelling together. They come in four different colours, letting each person choose their favourite.

These walkie-talkies offer a decent range but be aware that their performance can be affected by the metal structures on a cruise ship. They should still work well on deck and in larger spaces, but they might not be as reliable in certain areas.

The battery life is impressive, which is helpful because the set only includes one charger. Keep in mind that you can only recharge one walkie-talkie at a time. An earpiece is included for private conversations, but it may not be of the best quality or comfort.

Pros:

  • Good battery life
  • Up to a mile range in crowded areas
  • Four walkie-talkies in the set

Cons:

  • Low-quality earpiece
  • Only one charger for all four walkie-talkies
  • Potential performance issues on cruise ships

If you’re considering these walkie-talkies for a cruise ship, remember that the performance might not always be perfect. However, they still offer an excellent overall package for families.

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05/07/2024 06:24 am GMT

5. The MOICO Walkie-Talkie Set

The MOICO walkie-talkie set is an affordable choice if you are not too worried about high performance and just want four handsets for your family. But remember, you might face some limitations with this product.

When it comes to range, these walkie-talkies are not the best. They may not work well in corridors, but if you are in more open spaces like an open deck and not too far from each other.

The sound quality of these walkie-talkies isn’t brilliant, but you can enhance it by buying separate earpieces. However, they are not very durable.

These walkie-talkies are ideal if you need four handsets and don’t want to spend too much money.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Comes with four handsets, perfect for families
  • Decent performance in open areas

Cons

  • Limited range in indoor spaces
  • Low build quality
  • Earpieces not included
  • Average sound quality

To sum up, if you’re in search of a low-cost option with four handsets and are willing to compromise on range and sound quality, the MOICO walkie-talkie set serves the purpose. Just keep in mind that more reliable options are available for using inside a ship.

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05/07/2024 06:34 am GMT

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I'm Hannah and I've been cruising for as long as I can remember.

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