Do Walkies Talkies Work On A Cruise Ship?

Cruising with family is undoubtedly a fantastic experience, but staying connected in those bustling cruise ship crowds can be a bit challenging.

Cruise lines offer a solution to this issue with WiFi or cruise apps. However, many cruisers don’t want to pay for these services and choose two-way radios or walkie-talkies to stay in touch with their family. The question is, do they work on cruise ships?

The answer is Yes, walkie-talkies work on cruise ships, but it’s like chatting with a friend in a busy market; sometimes clear, sometimes not. Their effectiveness depends on the obstructions in your communication path.

So stay connected with me till the end to find out if walkie-talkies are worth it on cruise ships and on which areas of the ship they work best and worst.

So let’s get started.

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Do Walkie Talkies Work on Cruise Ship?

Walkies Talkies

Yes, walkie-talkies do work on cruise ships, but their effectiveness depends on several factors, including the specific part of the cruise ship and potential obstructions.

But let’s admit it: they’re the best communication alternative to Wi-Fi and Cruise apps, as long as you know how to use them correctly use it.

I realized their effectiveness when I observed cruise staff using them as their primary mode of communication. They are convenient.

However, there are some things to consider, such as the obstacles that hinder the handsets’ two-way communication.

But don’t worry. In the next section of the guide, I’ll discuss the best and worst cruise ship areas for walkie-talkies, which will help you make the most of them.

Walkie Talkies Hands-On Experience On Different Cruise Ship Areas

To help you make the best decision possible, I tested walkie-talkies in various cruise ship areas to see how they perform.

From the test observations, I found that you can even communicate with the person on the opposite end of the ship when the communication path has few to no obstructions.

Here are the results from some ship areas where I conducted hands-on tests with walkie-talkie.

1- Using A Walkie Talkie Inside The Cabin

inside of cabin

Using a walkie-talkie inside the cabin is only effective when the other person you want to communicate with is outside the hallway; then, the communication can be clear.

Communicating inside the cabin or balcony with a person on the above deck can create a problem. This communication may frustrate you as sometimes you’ll hear and sometimes not. And it’s all because of various obstructions such as walls, beds, ceilings, and metal posts.

As you might know, there’s no rocket science in this result that the cabins block the signals due to the steel decks, walls, and ceiling.

So, it’s clear that a walkie-talkie will not work if you want to communicate with the person above deck or somewhere else from your room.

However, if it’s necessary for you, try using the Ultra High-Frequency (UHF) walkie-talkie. But I don’t suggest it because many factors can also affect the device range.

2- Using A Walkie Talkie Outside The Cabin

As mentioned earlier, if there are no obstructions in the communication path, it will be clearer.

Using the two-way radio outside the cabins will create no problem.

So, if you are swimming in the pool located at the end of the ship and want to communicate with the member taking a sunbath at the other end, there’s no doubt you can still keep in touch with each other through these devices.

So, if your needs are in the outside areas of the ship, a walkie-talkie can be an ideal choice.

3- Communicating From The Top Deck With Person On The Bottom Of The Ship


In this situation, a walkie-talkie can encounter a slight communication issue.

It’s because the decks can be a minor obstruction to the signal. So, communication may not be as clear.

But yes, if you’re communicating from the top deck to the person on the deck below (even two decks below), it will be clear as long as the person is still outside the cabin.

So communicating with the person on the below decks is not an issue as long as it is within the device’s range capacity.

4- Using A Walkie Talkie On The Top Deck

If your needs are on the top deck, look no further because the top deck is one of the best spots to use a walkie-talkie.

If both end users are on the top deck, they can communicate without interruptions, even on the largest cruise ship, no matter how far they are from each other.

The top deck has fewer obstacles and provides a visible sight line, allowing the handheld sets to work properly.

Best And Worst Ship Areas For Walkie Talkies

worst area for walkie talkie

From the above results, you might know which areas are best and worst for walkie-talkies.

But if you’re still confused, here’s the list of best and worst ship areas for two-way radio:

Best Ship Areas:

  • Top Decks
  • Open Decks
  • Outdoor Recreational Areas

Worst Ship Areas:

  • Inside Cabins
  • Enclosed Spaces
  • Areas with Metal or Electronic Interference

What Makes Using a Walkie-Talkie Difficult On a Cruise Ship?

Using a Walkie-Talkie

Walkie-talkies are great for cruise ships as long as there are few obstructions in the communication path.

The factors listed below are things that can make walkie-talkies difficult to function properly on cruise ships:

1- Communicating From The Cabin

The walkie-talkies can’t communicate from your cabin.

It’s only possible when the person is standing outside the room or in the hallway.

This is because of obstacles starting from the cabin, including walls, metals, steel, and other things.

So, cabin obstacles are the top factor, making it difficult for the walkie-talkies to communicate.

2- Electrical Interference

Electrical interference is also a major factor limiting the functionality of handheld devices.

The cruise ship is loaded with wiring and electronic devices that can interfere with the reception of a walkie-talkie, making it difficult to communicate.

3- Longer Distance

Remember, a longer distance means fewer signals. 

Unlike a love relationship, which might increase with distance, the walkie-talkie works because a longer distance means fewer signals.

To overcome this issue, high-range or ultra-high-range two-way radio devices allow you to communicate over 500 feet apart.

4- Structural Interference

Last but not least, a cruise ship has a structure that walkie-talkies dislike the most.

It contains all kinds of obstacles to block the signal: thick walls, layers of steel framing, and electronic devices.

That’s why using a walkie-talkie on a cruise ship is best on a top deck or outside the cabin.

Are Walkie-Talkies Allowed On Cruise Ships?

Almost all cruise ships allowed walkie-talkies on board. 

These include Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, P and O Cruises, MSC Cruises, Disney Cruise LinePrincess Cruise, Virgin Voyages, Marella Cruise By TUI, and Holland America Line.

Which Cruise Line Doesn’t Allow Walkie Talkies Onboard?

Norwegian Cruise Line added Walkie Talkie to their list of 32 prohibited items.

There’s no explanation from the cruise line of why two-way radios are now prohibited, but there could be several reasons.

  • Interference Concerns
  • Disruption to passengers
  • Promotion of onboard communication systems
  • Security and safety considerations
  • Noise management

Will The Walkie-Talkies Range Cover An Entire Ship?

Walkie-Talkies Range

As mentioned earlier, the Walkie Talkies range depends on the obstructions interfering with communication, and a cruise ship has many of them.

Also, it’s important to note that the range of two-way radios mentioned by the company must not be the same on a cruise ship as many factors limit its range.

In most cases, the device’s range covers an entire ship when the other person is outside the cabin or on the upper deck.

However, some obstructions remain, like doors, walls, electrical systems, passengers, and swimming pools. However, you can still use the walkie-talkie and be ready for the weak signals.

Are the frequency types for Walkie Talkies FRS, GMRS, or PMR446?

Walkie-talkies operate using radio signals, unlike network providers, including AT&T, and these signals come in various frequency types.

Different frequencies are assigned to specific named ranges for different services. For instance, a range of frequencies is reserved for FM radio and another set aside for television signals.

There are two major frequency types for walkie-talkies: Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS).

FRS radios are ideal for shorter distances due to their lower-powered frequency range. On the other hand, GMRS radios have a higher frequency range, making them perfect for longer ranges.

Now, after understanding the concept of cruise ship obstructions, you should know which radio frequency devices will suit you the most.

But wait! You must know something about using GMRS inside and outside the US, which I’ve mentioned in the next section.

Laws Regarding The Use Of Walkie Talkie At Sea

The laws regarding the use of two-way radio at sea can be quite complicated in different countries. 

But as far as Family Radio Service (FRS) is concerned, it’s alright. 

The problem arises in the GMRS frequency. The GMRS walkie-talkies require a license to use in the USA and outside the USA due to their high range capability. 

I suggest avoiding them and sticking to only FRS ones.

Also, research the rules and regulations of operating a walkie-talkie to prevent tapping into a foreign country’s public frequency, even if it’s an FRS channel.

What Type of Walkie Talkie Will Work on a cruise ship in the UK and Europe?

In the UK and Europe, a system similar to walkie-talkies is called PMR446. They operate on a frequency of 446 MHz in the UHF band for short-range communication. 

Two years ago, I used this walkie-talkie during my sailing expedition through Ravana Cruise port. It offers a straightforward and hassle-free method to communicate wirelessly across short distances.

Below are some important things that you must know if you want to use two-way radios in the US, UK, and Europe:

  • The UK model walkie-talkie can’t communicate with the US-purchased one as they are on two different radio frequencies.
  • The two UK-purchased walkie-talkies can work in the USA, but they won’t be legal.
  • Likewise, the two US-purchased devices can be used in the UK but won’t be legal.

Could Other People On the Ship Listen To Walkie Talkie Conversation?

Others on the ship can hear walkie-talkie talks because these devices use open frequencies. 

Convos aren’t private, but intentional eavesdropping is rare. I suggest using codes, channels, or secure features on advanced models to boost security. 

Remember, frequencies are shared, so avoid discussing sensitive info on walkie-talkies aboard a cruise.

What Are Privacy Codes For Walkie-Talkies?

If you’re sharing something sensitive, try not to do it openly because two-way radios use open frequencies, and others can hear your info.

To avoid this, there’s something called Privacy Codes. This feature doesn’t encrypt the communication but adds a sub-audible tone to your voice transmission.

Privacy codes create a kind of private sub-channel. Everyone in your group tunes their radio to the same channel and privacy code.

These codes help filter out other radio signals from users on the same channel, making your conversations more exclusive within your set codes.

Walkie Talkie Battery Life And Power Options

For Walkie Talkie, battery life is a major concern. So, if you’re using them, consider the battery and power options.

I suggest rechargeable batteries for your walkie-talkies since they can be recharged during your cruise.

A rechargeable battery option is available on modern two-way radios, but it’s crucial to double-check this feature before embarking.

Another thing that you should also consider is the power outlet type, whether it’s a US or something else. So, consider bringing along a cruise-compatible power strip to ensure sufficient outlets.

In short, you’ll have these options for your devices:

  • Opt for devices with longer battery life
  • Choose a walkie-talkie with a rechargeable battery option
  • Balance power output and battery life

What Kind Of Walkie Talkies Work Best On A Cruise Ship?

Walkie-talkies come in different frequencies. The kind of walkie-talkie that works best on a cruise ship depends on your needs.

  • Low-Range: Low-range walkie-talkies usually work from 500 to 1000 feet, good for places with few obstacles.
  • High-Range: High-range set of walkie-talkies can go as far as 10 to 20 miles.
  • Ultra-High Range Frequencies: Ultra high frequency walkie-talkies can reach up to 100 miles, ensuring solid communication with your group.

Finest Walkie-Talkies For Cruise Ship Guests

Best Cruise Ship Walkie Talkies For Families:

Best Portable Cruise Ship Walkie Talkie

Best Budget Cruise Ship Walkie Talkie

Best Brand For Cruise Ship Walkie Talkies

Cruise Ship Communication Vs. Walkie Talkies? Which One Is Best

FactorCruise Ship Communication (WiFi, App)Walkie-Talkies
RangeShip-wide coverage through WiFi or appVaries; low-range: 500-1000 feet, high-range: 10-20 miles, ultra-high range: up to 100 miles in some cases
PrivacyRelatively private, depends on network securityLimited privacy on open frequencies; enhanced with privacy codes on some models
CostOften comes with additional chargesOne-time purchase cost, no ongoing fees
Ease of UseRequires device setup and loginEasy to use, just tune to the same channel and privacy code for group communication
Obstructions ImpactMinimal, works well in most areasObstructions like walls and structures can affect performance
Group CommunicationEfficient for ship-wide announcementsEffective for group coordination within a limited range
Decision Based on NeedsChoose for broader ship-wide coverage and convenienceIdeal for close-range, on-the-go communication within a group

Factor Cruise Ship Communication (WiFi, App) Walkie-Talkies

Range Ship-wide coverage through WiFi or app Varies; low-range: 500-1000 feet, high-range: 10-20 miles, ultra-high range: up to 100 miles in some cases

Privacy Relatively private depends on network security Limited privacy on open frequencies; enhanced with privacy codes on some models

Cost Often comes with additional charges, One-time purchase costs, and no ongoing fees

Ease of Use Requires device setup and login Easy to use; just tune to the same channel and privacy code for group communication

Obstructions Impact Minimal, works well in most areas Obstructions like walls and structures can affect performance

Group Communication Efficient for ship-wide announcements Effective for group coordination within a limited range

Decision Based on Needs Choose for broader ship-wide coverage and convenience Ideal for close-range, on-the-go communication within a group

Which One Is Best?

  • Cruise Ship Communication: Best for ship-wide coverage and convenience. Great for general announcements and staying connected throughout the ship.
  • Walkie-Talkies:  Perfect for close-range group talk, especially in tricky spots. Affordable with a one-time buy. Ideal for staying mobile and coordinating in tight spaces.

Is Walkie Talkie Really Worth It On Cruise Ships?

The answer to this question depends on your needs.

If you need to communicate from inside the cabin, I would not suggest two-way radios. Stick with the ship WiFi or app.

However, look no further to the walkie-talkies for open areas as they are best for communicating in open areas of the ships.

So, in the above decks and other open areas of the cruise ship, Walkie Talkies are worth it.


What Is Two-Way Radio Technology?

Two-way radio technology enables communication between two or more users using radio waves, allowing both listening and talking on the same frequency as walkie-talkies.

Are all walkie-talkies compatible with each other?

No, not all walkie-talkies work together. It depends on things like frequency and codes. Check if they match before using.

Can walkie-talkies work in areas with many obstructions?

Walkie-talkies might not work well in crowded places or near buildings and trees, making the range unclear. Test and pick based on where you’ll use them.

Final Words

Hopefully, now you should know all about using the walkie-talkie on a cruise ship. 

Things will get easier when you focus on your needs and make a decision.

Have an amazing and hassle-free family cruise experience.

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