"What was interesting was that the cruise ship
could be heard quite clearly this time as well. They must be allowed to use a high power rig as well. Anyone know for sure"
To my knowledge, commercial
ships are limited to 25-watt output VHF
radios, just as are pleasure boats. High-end Furuno's with all the bells and whistles, for example, are just 25 watts.
No doubt the better transmission
capability of cruiseships is due to the very elevated position of their antennas and to all that steel
underneath them, which makes for a great ground plane :-)