Keeping in touch with family and friends can be difficult on a large cruise ship, often leading to missed opportunities, or even worse, missed lunch or dinner bookings. Web based devices are improving in scope and speed as technology advances, but they remain too expensive for regular use by many passengers, and unsuitable for some elderly and young people. The last thing you need at the end of an enjoyable cruise is a huge internet or mobile phone bill.
A communications alternative, the walkie talkie, is frowned upon by many cruisers due to the loud squeaky radio signal and invasive conversations, especially when used by youngsters in an ongoing game of high seas private detectives. Passenger harmony is important for everyone on a cruise, and here are some tried and true tips for communication, as used by experienced passengers.
Make a group itinerary
This is the most practical plan for making sure everyone meets up in the right place at the right time. Once you know the ship layout and your individual cabin locations, formulate an activities and meal plan and make copies. This personalised onboard shedule can be re-drafted daily or remain in place for the entire cruise. Make sure everyone in your group is satisfied, and give them copies of the itinerary. This simple strategy will ensure you get together for games, dinner and excursions without anyone missing out on the fun. Alterations to the schedule can be made, but keeping everyone on the same page will facilitate onboard harmony in your group.
Use post-it notes
This may seem a little old fashioned to younger travellers, but it is a tried and true method favoured by experienced cruisers. It’s natural to be in and out of your room quite often, and finding a note on your door is an easy way to stay in touch. If you are part of a large group, lead members should know everyone’s room number in order for this fail safe communication method to work.
Use in-cabin phones for daily updates
If you are coordinating a group, it’s a good idea to give everyone a morning call so they know the plan for the day, including meeting times and activities. The early morning call also gives individual group members the opportunity to forgo activities that don’t interest them, and you won’t need to worry or think they are lost. This is not a fool-proof approach, but used in tandem with the other methods is a good backup.
Text with walkie-talkies
An alternative to loud walkie-talkie conversations is the texting option available on some sets. It’s much less intrusive than the crackly beep and pop of fragmented walkie-talkie conversations, especially if you are contacted every five minutes with a request for directions from members of your family or group.
Arrange a familiar meeting place
This is another method used by seasoned travellers. A designated meeting place can be used as a general area to meet at random times with group members, or as a location for group meetings to organise your daily activities schedule. It’s also a great way to bond with your friends and share information about your day onboard.
The future of onboard communications
Some newer vessels are rolling out WiFi that is almost equivalent with land based services. Others have introduced cordless phones and iPads for keeping in touch while onboard. It’s true that many cruisers enjoy being away from distracting communications, and are happy to relax and watch the world go by. However, this option isn’t suitable for everyone, especially members of a large family or tour group. Cruise lines are fast catching up with available technology for onboard use, but in the meantime the tried and true communications methods will keep you informed about your group’s whereabouts, while saving you a bundle of money.