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Has anyone operated while on a cruise ship?

Discussion in 'Mobile Radio' started by AD5ZA, Sep 2, 2013.

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  1. AD5ZA

    AD5ZA Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am planning an extended cruise and would like to operate /MM on HF while aboard the ship. I can get permission from the cruise line, Holland America, without a lot of trouble or red tape. But I do have some questions. So.... If you have some experience in this type of operation, I would like to know about your set up, antenna, ground etc and any helpful suggestions you might have.
  2. K6CPO

    K6CPO Ham Member QRZ Page

    The biggest issue has to do with where the vessel is flagged. Not only do you have the have the permission of the ship's master, but there are other requirements as well. Since the Holland America ships are all flagged in the Netherlands, things are simplified somewhat. There is more and better information than I can give at the following:
  3. AD5ZA

    AD5ZA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the link.
  4. K6CPO

    K6CPO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've only used my HT from a cruise ship, but one of our local hams has operated HF from a cruise ship. His call is KR6RG and you can look him up here. He might be able to help.
  5. W3MMM

    W3MMM Ham Member QRZ Page

    edit - Nevermind - I answered a question that wasn't asked. Like I do with my wife sometimes.

    But I do recall seeing someone's set up and it was REALLY simple.... they took a whip antenna with a mag mount - and then just plopped the mag mount to the outside of the ship as they sat on their balcony operating.

    This makes the whip horizontal with the sea - they just reached up over their head on the balcony and slapped the mag mount right there. No special grounding, just the rig and the whip.

    I suspect the antenna performance on the sea, with the ship there, is pretty wild.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  6. W4RAV

    W4RAV Ham Member QRZ Page

    After several cruises, nearly all taking an HT with me, I found I'd rather enjoy the cruise. Never used a radio once while traveling.

    Kinda the whole point of vacation is to do things I don't already do every day.

    Also saves from having to lug around gear and deal with customs or other badge-wearers without a clue.

    You're on vacation. Put down the radio and pay attention to the XYL!

  7. N0IU

    N0IU Ham Member QRZ Page

    With all due respect (uh oh, you know you're in trouble now!), I am with Frank on this one. Leave the gear at home.
  8. AD0EC

    AD0EC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Bring all your radio gear with you op and the latest issues of QST, Popular Communications and CQ. Your wife is gonna love it.
    N7MLW likes this.
  9. W5BIB

    W5BIB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Better yet !!.
    Build a kit while on your cruise !!:rolleyes:
    N7MLW likes this.
  10. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've operated from cruise ships, and it's true Holland America is one of the best choices for this as they routinely allow it. Check licensing requirements and such, of course; but last I checked their ships are all Netherlands registry and we have a bilateral reciprocal agreement with Holland.

    Still, to operate from ports of call, it's required to have operating privileges from those countries also, and in many cases a permit or license for that is required. Incredibly, Mexico is one of those countries where Americans cannot just go operate; a permit is available without taking a test, but you pay for it and if it's done via mail it can take several weeks (done that).

    Then, there's always the "high seas" where you're not in any port and there's no worries. But you would sign PA/yourcallsign/MM.

    What I've done successfully is to bring a small HF rig with a gel-cell battery (and a charger, so I can re-charge in the cabin with AC power), plus a key paddle, lightweight headphones, a handheld microphone, small amount of coax, and a clamp-on HF whip antenna that can be clamped to something metal, like a railing. Being "out of the way and unobtrusive" is not only the goal, but usually a requirement by the Captain. So, I always chose the upper deck (often the "sports deck," and there may be a running track and volleyball court there, or other things) which is the windiest place on the whip but also the least likely to be occupied by anyone at all in the very early morning hours, which is the only time I've operated (usually just before sunrise to maybe an hour after sunrise).

    The upper deck is usually the highest point on the ship except for stacks and antennas and such, so it's the best place to set up, anyway. But the noise from the wind (!) can be a bit loud so headphones are really a must.

    Working thousands of miles across the sea with 50W PEP and a clamp-on whip is pretty easy on an open HF band, even if the antenna isn't very good.

    Pays to identify yourself to the Captain and tell him what you plan to do. Last time I did that, the Captain himself was a ham (from Italy, and he introduced himself as I2 something) and just said, "No wires where anyone can trip on them, just try to stay out of the way" and that was about his only advice.
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