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Old 23-06-2009, 16:58   #16
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Skype is good for cheap calls home, but nothing beats the convenience of having a local cell phone for arranging tours, calling taxis & local businesses, etc. Just having a local number that you can give out is very handy in many cases.

You can get an unlocked quad band GSM phone on ebay for about $50 that will work anywhere in the Caribbean with the appropriate sim card. Then on each island you buy a prepaid sim card which gives you a local number and airtime. Sim cards are cheap and usually start at about $20EC ($7USD) including 20 min airtime. Adding airtime is slightly cheaper after you have a sim card. You can even roam with them on other islands, but you'll burn through the airtime at 5x the rate if you make calls from an island other than where you bought the sim card. Cruising with a local cell phone will make your life a lot easier.
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Old 24-06-2009, 08:11   #17
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Skype is definitely NOT for emergencies. I would probably not rely on it for critical business conference calls (Okay, so I did when I was in a marina and had a dedicated DSL hardline to the boat) But, for periodic outbound calls while cruising, it is the most cost effective solution I believe you'll find.
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Old 27-06-2009, 11:41   #18
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ksalt, I had heard it best to use unlocked phone and sim card. Just checking to see if it was also good for cruising.
I hadn't thought about the video and bandwidth. Guess we will not be "seeing" the family except for special occasions.
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Old 14-02-2011, 11:27   #19
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Is there anything new going on with cell phones in the caribbean these days? I have a quad band phone and use TelCell in St. Maartin as the phone calls to the US are only $.29/minute but I'm wondering if there are plans that are better and cover larger areas. I can't seem to call from Anguilla or St. Bart's and it's sketchey on the french side.

Another thread had mentioned digicel. Anyone using that? What about roaming? I really don't want to have to get new sim cards for every island I go to.
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Old 14-02-2011, 11:44   #20
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I have used Skype quite successfully. While many people here have talked about using Skype for video, I actually think that doing so in a crowded anchorage or marina over wifi is quite rude. While you may get a 54Mb connection to the router, most places actually have very limited uplink speeds. While one can get decent voice connections using relatively little bandwidth, video calls often hog most if not all of the uplink bandwidth rendering the service nearly unusable for everyone else.

I'll get off my soapbox now.
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Old 14-02-2011, 11:46   #21
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sprint covers all territories of usa for free then i have to get sim cards for a different system or go skye and wifi. skype works even with business calls-- friend of mine has high stress and high speed business and uses skype more than cell fones. does that help??
btw--i use skype for voice only...
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Old 14-02-2011, 11:59   #22
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Thanks. Maybe I should have started a new tread unstead of reviving this old one but what I'm interested in is cell service in the caribbean, not skype or service in the United States.
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Old 15-02-2011, 07:02   #23
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The beginning of this thread is now over a year old and the technology has continued to improve. I agree that skype is a good system in that it allows you to place your phone calls over the internet using your phone's data plans. An alternative that works just as well and is still free is google voice. You must sign up first with google to obtain a gmail account and you will be given your own new phone number. You then download the google voice app onto your smartphone and you are able to get texts, phone calls and emails directly to your phone through your gmail account. If you want all of your calls sent to your new number you can call forward from your old number to your new google phone number. It seems to work well.
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Old 15-02-2011, 07:17   #24
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Skype rools... if I cant use voice I type... people who want to stay in touch are easily reached as I allow for time differences... as to the cell phone... never had any problems with my 3GM....
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Old 15-02-2011, 07:37   #25
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Without getting into the technical and other aspects - in our extensive experience sailing up and down the eastern Caribbean we have never been without wifi or a good skype access. Most times we can get it while on the boat using a powered external wifi antenna. But for short stays it is cheaper and sometimes free to just go ashore with our little netbook computer and use it in a cafe or patisserie or even laundry place. Lots of places are using the "free wifi" to draw in customers.
- - There is even an outfit called "Hothotspot" in the eastern Caribbean which offers wifi both onshore and in anchorages on most all the islands from St Martin to Grenada for one monthly fee. So you get to "use" your month in many places.
- - Also GSM phones (be sure to get a "Quad-band unlocked") work everywhere and either on "roaming" (somewhat expensive) or by buying a cheap Sim card which gets you a new local telephone number. This is really good if you are going to spend a month somewhere and/or need to call local services/stores/shops. Otherwise I use up the leftover minutes after I left the particular island with roaming calls.
- - Communicating home or elsewhere is light-years ahead of where it was 5 or more years ago. It is not even a worry anymore - so long as you have the equipment especially a high power (1 watt/1000milliwatt powered external USB antenna for your computer while onboard, or a little netbook (like Acer or others) to take ashore.
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Old 15-02-2011, 10:35   #26
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i am becoming a fan of skype-- helps those who cannot read my typo-ing to understand what i say.....LOL.... fancy that!!!!
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