Can I take my walkie-talkie on a cruise ship? This is a question that I’ve heard a bunch of times now. It’s a hotly debated topic, but the short answer is, yes. I’m not going to tell you if you should or shouldn’t use them. But, if you are reading this, you would probably use them anyway.
In this article, I’m going to give you some tips and review some of my picks for the best walkie talkie for cruise ships to help you on your next cruise. All right, now before I go to the actual review, let’s talk about the pros and cons of taking a walkie talkie on a cruise.
Let’s start off with a quick pros and cons list, and I’ll follow that up with some hot picks and few tips.
Why You Should Take A Walkie Talkie With You On A Cruise
When you’re on a cruise ship, a walkie talkie may come as a handy tool in many different ways –
- It’s a fun way to communicate.
- You don’t need to go back and forth to your room to get someone.
- There won’t be any coverage in the middle of the ocean.
- Texting isn’t any fun on cruise ships.
- You can keep in touch with your kids.
- It’s a great way to communicate if you are with a large group.
- You would feel like a secret agent.
- You can play cops and robbers on your cruise.
Now, it’s not all sunshine and roses. There are few setbacks like the legal issue, licensing and all that. But, if you have everything in order, you are good to go.
The awkward moments of talking with a walkie talkie on a ship.
- Sometimes they don’t function properly.
- Annoying beeping and buzzing sound might annoy you.
- They are illegal in some countries, make sure to check before you leave.
- Extra weight on your belt.
- Others might get annoyed by the noise.
- Different people might use the same frequency or channel.
Here some few tips to consider if you really want to use them.
- Check your surroundings to see if people are getting annoyed by your activity.
- Don’t randomly change channels and eavesdrop on what others are saying.
- Consider getting those models with an earpiece. You’ll hear more, and others won’t hear anything.
- Don’t go overboard when buying a walkie talkie, you don’t need expensive high-tech models.
- Don’t shout if you hear grabbled or static conversation.
A Few Features to consider for buying Walking Talkie
While you’re going to buy Walkie Talkie for cruise ship you have to consider following features to end up with a good set –
- Good battery backup
- Dual power source
I will discuss each of them at the end of this article, till them, read the reviews and make a short list of your choices.
Now that I’ve gone through the perks and downsides of taking two radios on a voyage, it is time to look at some of my favorite walkie-talkies for the cruise.
Top 7 Walkie Talkies for Cruise Ship Reviews
1. Motorola Talkabout T280 Rechargeable Two-Way Radio Bundle – White
The Motorola T280 is a two-way radio that features 11 weather channels and 7 NOAA weather alerts. It’s a compact radio that’s easy to carry around and has good clarity and range. This walkie talkie is a must-have device for all your outdoor activity. Especially if you are traveling with a large group of friends.
Although the company claims that it has a powerful range which is 25 miles, don’t fall for that kind of marketing crap. At most you’ll get about 1 to 2 km. Which is enough for a walkie talkie of this kind. The range is good enough to keep in touch with your family and friends.
You can switch between 22 channels, and each of them has 121 privacy codes. The total combination is 2662, which is more than enough to find an available channel for your group. It’s not entirely waterproof. However, it is IP-51 rated which means it has dust protection and protection from vertically falling drops.
It will keep you updated with a real-time weather report. You can either tune into your local weather channel or receive initiating weather alerts via the All Hazards NOAA’s national weather service. Although this service isn’t available in all areas, visit the official website for frequency and details.
This radio operates using FRS and GMRS. True FRS radios require a license to operate, but if you operate a radio that has both of these frequencies, you can bypass the system by limiting the operation to FRS channels and using ½ watt effective radiated power. Also, use the integral antenna, and you won’t need any licensing.
Features I Liked Most
- Good clarity even in the condensed neighborhood.
- Easy to operate without any licensing.
- The range is good for most trips.
- Very usable and longer lasting battery.
- Small, lightweight and easy to carry around.
2. Midland – GXT1050VP4, 50 Channel GMRS Two-Way Radio
The GXT1050 is one heavy-duty two-way radio. It’s packed with features and made for outdoor enthusiasts. It has bold yellow faceplate design that boasts Xtreme range technology that gives you decent coverage in any situation. This pair of radios is tough, long-lasting and easy on the wallet.
This two-way radio comes with 50 GMRS channels with channel scan feature to check for activity. On top of that, it boasts JIS4 Waterproof Protection. It is splash resistant and protects the internals from accidental spills. This radio is available in 4 different color options.
In open areas, this radio can communicate over long distances. It has eVOX which means easy voice and sound activation for hands-free calling. In combination with the Boom mic headsets, this is the perfect hands-free walkie talkie you can find at an affordable price.
It has the Midland’s signature weather technology that keeps you updated for all weather alerts. Midland is known for its quality, reliability, and value. This product is proof of that. It has good sound quality, transmission, and reception. You won’t be disappointed with this one.
Additional features include 142 Privacy Codes, 9 Levels of eVOX, Group Call, SOS siren and many more with easy button access. Dual power option for continuous use on the go. Keep in mind that you need to obtain a GMRS license to operate this one.
Features I liked Most
- These radios are solid and better than most consumer grade walkie-talkies.
- It comes with every feature you can think of from a two-way radio.
- It has good volume and easy to operate.
- Long battery life and dual power option.
- Hands-free calling with dedicated boom mic headsets.
3. BaoFeng BF-888S Two Way Radio
The BaoFeng BF-888S is a multi-functional two-way radio that comes very handy in the construction area, for security guards or if you are traveling with a group of friends. This walkie talkie is ideal for communicating with your mates on the go. In an ideal situation, this radio has a communication range of 2- 4 km.
The transmission uses 3W RF output power and F3E modulation. 12dB SINAD sensitivity, 55dB/50dB selectivity and many more. You can find all the technical specs on the official site. It has a superb build quality and weighs around 198g with battery and antenna. This one comes with a microphone and antenna for each radio which makes them great for handsfree use.
On top of that, it features eVox. These devices are pc programmable and voice prompt able. The batteries charge up quickly and last all day. The range is pretty good except for hilly location. On a cruise, this could be very useful.
The customizable channels will allow you to weed out the unwanted crowd from your conversation. The radios are quite rugged for an affordable walkie talkie. These are loud enough to hear what the other person is saying. Prepping right out of the box takes only 10 minutes.
Additional features include a flashlight, time-out timer, low-voltage alert, battery saver option, smart charging, emergency alarm and many more. I doubt you would use all of them, but it’s nice to get so many features at a budget-friendly price.
Features I Liked Most
- Each piece comes with a microphone and headsets.
- All of them are tough, and the battery performance is superb.
- The perfect travel companion for large groups.
- Supports CHIRP to program your channels.
- Battery saver and intelligent charging with 1500mAh battery.
4. Midland – LXT600VP3, 36 Channel FRS Two-Way Radio
The LXT600VP3 is a popular radio from Midland because of the durability and performance this one has to offer. It features 36 Family Radio Service channels as well as quick channel scan feature to check for nearby channels. You can get a ½ mile or more range from this one. Don’t believe the 30-mile long range crap.
This one features 121 continuous tone-coded squelch system. This feature allows up to 2,662 channel options to block unwanted conversations. Additionally, you can use the silent operation feature to mute everything. The ideal radio for hands-free operation. Featuring eVOX voice and sound activation that has 3 sensitivity levels.
Other features such as NOAA weather alert that will scan through ten available WX band. It will automatically lock onto the strongest channel and keep you updated and alert you of severe weather condition. It also features an alarm system that will indicate if severe weather is headed your way.
The LXT600VP3 can be used to communicate using 22 channels and an additional 14 channels with programmed privacy codes. It comes in a pack of two with belt clips, rechargeable battery pack, desktop charger, and AC/DC adapters.
Sound quality, reception, and transmission are something that’s not an issue with the LXT600VP3. It also features dual power option, comes with rechargeable battery packs or you can buy 3 AAA alkaline on your own for longer use. The only problem with those rechargeable battery packs is that they take too long to charge.
Features I Liked Most
- You don’t need any sort of license to operate this radio.
- Good range for most outdoor activity.
- Hands-free operation and pre-programmable channels.
- Lots of extra features that make this radio a fun device to use.
- It is light, small and easy to use.
5. Ansoko Walkie Talkies Long Range Rechargeable Two-Way Radios
This product from Ansoko is a 2-watt programmable device that has a frequency range from 400 and up to 470MHz. This walkie talkie is meant for long-distance use. In a clean line of sight, it can reach up to 3 miles reception. In terms of build quality, it has a solid build quality with clear and loud audio quality.
In a typical scenario, you would get around a full day of usage with a fully charged battery. Easy to use navigation system, 16 channel memory, 50 built-in CTCSS tones, and 105 DSC codes, VOX, SOS siren, voice prompt and led flashlight for night use are some of the features that come with this walkie talkie.
This FRS/GMRS walkie talkie is a cost-effective solution for outdoor enthusiasts on a tight budget. No led display; everything looks old school on this one. In built-up areas where there are lots of tall buildings, these can reach approximately 0.6 miles.
In the open sea where the line of sight is clear, and there are no obstacles in between, these radios can reach 3 miles in range. For cruise ship travelers, this is more than enough. It has an ultra-portable handy design, and the size is so compact, you won’t even feel this hanging from your belt clip.
I liked the fact that Ansoko didn’t pull any 36-mile crap as others did. They were honest about the range, and they actually tested them in different locations. You can access the CTCSS/DCS function, and no programming is needed to use these walkie talkies right out of the box.
Features I Liked Most
- The reception is pretty good even on moving vehicles that have a relatively close distance.
- These have a very portable design and very intuitive to use.
- At this price, the quality is exactly what you would expect.
- It comes with a lot of good accessories.
- The volume actually goes quite high on this one.
6. Motorola Talkabout T400 Rechargeable Two-Way Radio Pair
The Motorola Talkabout T400 is n IP-54 rated radio that’s available in 4 different models. Active, Emergency preparedness, Family and Hunting. For cruise ships, I’ll be reviewing the Family version. Each of these models has four different colors to choose from, and the name suits the aesthetics perfectly.
Be it snow or rain splasher; the weatherproof design will protect your device from these wet conditions. It’s also dustproof. Another cool feature of this radio is the quiet talk interruption filter. The built-in LED light comes handy in emergency situations. Instead of the normal ringtone, you can set your own personal call tone on this one.
You can choose from ten audible tones to decide what will people hear when calling. Before you start speaking, this audible tone is a fun way to grab the attention of your family and friends. The navigation control seems easy to me, and it’s usable right out of the box.
If you want to extend the transmission range, there is a feature called Push-To-Talk. It works as a power boost to increase the power of the transmission output. Don’t worry; it won’t drain your battery too much, there is a feature to prevent that from happening.
It can communicate with other walkie talkie brands if they use the FRS/GMRS frequency. Both of the devices have to on the same privacy code and channel. Other features include micro USB charging port, iVOX/VOX and dual power. You can either use NiMH rechargeable batteries or 3 AA batteries.
Features I Liked Most
- Hands-free communication via iVOX/VOX that acts as a speakerphone.
- 5 hours of runtime for the rechargeable battery and up to 21 hours for 3 AAs.
- Compact size for everyday family fun.
- Easy to use buttons and navigations.
- Dual power source with a micro USB charging port.
7. Cobra ACXT390 Walkie Talkie
This ultra-portable and compact walkie talkie from Cobra is the best solution for cruisers on a lookout for cheap models. The ACXT390 can be just the right radio for you for occasional use. The range is what you would expect from a budget two-way radio. You can even take them on your next hunting trip.
Always be prepared for upcoming storms and emergencies with NOAA weather channel radio receiver. It has 2662 channel combinations for chatter-free communication. The combination is the result of 22 channels combined with 121 privacy codes. It’s enough to prevent interference from other frequencies.
You don’t need to hold the radio every time you need to talk to someone. Thanks to the voice-activated transmission system aka VOX, you can communicate with each other using voice prompt. On top of that, these radios are weather resistant.
There are five different call alerts to distinguish between different parties. You can select from 5 different tones for incoming parties. With the purchase, you’ll get rechargeable batteries, micro USB charging cable, a charging dock, and a user manual.
Overall, it’s a good little radio. However, the microphone volume isn’t that impressive. This is a common issue among waterproof radios. The range is quite good for a budget walkie talkie; it can easily cover a cruise ship distance.
Features I Liked Most
- An affordable walkie talkie that’s very easy to use.
- Works well for shorter range use.
- It’s lightweight, and voice clarity is also good.
- You can even give them as a gift.
- Pick up a license-free channel, and you are good to go.
How To Choose The Best Walkie Talkie For Cruise Ships
Picking a walkie talkie might seem simple at first, which often is. But did you know that there are some small factors that determine whether you can or can’t use a radio in a certain place? These small gadgets use a fixed type of frequency that vary from radio to radio.
Types Of Radio
There are basically three types of radios available for communication within the United States. These are:
These are basically frequencies that a walkie talkie uses to connect with another device.
General Mobile Radio Service aka GMRS is strongest in the consumer level segment. It allows the device to output 1-5 watts of power. Some could even go as high as 50 watts. The GMRS is used for a wide range of coverage. With an external antenna, you could reach up to 5 miles.
This extended coverage and higher output power also make these units more expensive than their FRS counterparts. Normally, FRS can only use up to 14 channels and share 7 with GMRS. But the general mobile radio service has 8 channels specific to them, from 15 to 22.
FRS, on the other hand, is considered as the smaller brother to the GMRS. It utilizes the FM waves to communicate. Much like the CB radios that operate on AM waves. These are relatively cheaper, and most of the time, you’ll find both of them mixed in a single device.
FRS radios don’t require a license to operate. For example, the walkie-talkies that you used to play as a child was using FRS frequencies. FCC only granted a maximum of 0.5 watts to this type of radio. As a result, the coverage is also low. You could most probably get 1 mile in radius.
The last one which is the eXRS is a new technology and only used on advanced devices like those used in cruise ships. You could say these are the advanced version of FRS but better in terms of range and connectivity.
I’m not going to go more detailed on this because all of the radios that I’ve listed here either use FRS or GMRS or even both.
Picking a radio with more channels is always good. It’s basically the frequency band that both users need to be tuned in to. However, only one of you can transmit at a time. You need more channels depending on the number of people you want to communicate with. If you want privacy and versatility, pick a radio with more channels.
You’ll see this term a lot when shopping for a two-way radio. It’s not that you’ll get a private chat room for your family members, think of it more like a chatter filter. You’ll hear less from unwanted people within the same channel.
The purpose of the privacy code is to divide a channel into subchannels. To use this feature, you need a key for a predetermined code and a pre-agreed channel. If you want more privacy, go for radios with more privacy codes.
By clarity, I’m referring to the audio quality of the device. You need the confidence that your message is reaching the other person clearly and efficiently. You don’t want to repeat your message over and over again.
How will you know if your radio will have great clarity? It’s not a problem if you are buying from your local store because you can test it out yourself. But what about purchasing online?
You’ll have to rely on the reviews and brand reputation. Brands like Motorola, Midland, Cobra, Baofeng are some of the popular brands out there.
Quality and Battery Life
Waterproof radios should be preferred at all times. You never know when you might spill something on your walkie talkie. If one gets damaged, the other becomes completely useless. Unless you have a bunch of them lying around.
Battery life will determine the mAH of the battery and how many watts the device can output. You don’t want a device that will drain your battery in 10 minutes.
Also, consider dual power source capable radios. It will have a rechargeable battery pack, and you can also use AA or AAA batteries when you are out of power.
Most high-end laptops will have additional features such as dedicated mic and headsets, eVOX, NOAA weather alerts, flashlights and many more.
Q1. Are walkie talkies allowed onboard?
Most of the cruise ship agencies will allow guests to rent Dect phones or commonly known as portable phones for rent. Guests can also carry two-way radios onboard personal communication.
Q2. What are the requirements for carrying a walkie talkie in a cruise ship?
If the radio has coverage up to 10 miles, maximum 5 watts power, operated transmission, internal voice, and no external mounting antenna, you carry it onboard.
In a cruise ship, there will be a lot of passengers on board and making a wrong selection of two-way radios will be the last thing you want to do. Constantly keeping track of your travel buddies will be even harder once you board the ship.
And, that’s why it’s important to get a set of walkie talkies that will have a lot of channels, a lot of privacy codes and good clarity.
Any GMRS band radio will have enough coverage to cover the whole ship. Hopefully, you found the best walkie talkie for cruise ship article helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.