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Old 23-06-2009, 07:20   #1
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Phone Calls While Cruising

We plan to spend the first couple years in the caribbean and am wondering about phones. Skype offer voip that is reasonably priced but does it work in the islands? We would want to be able to connect with family back home periodically but will use email for most of the time when we have access to it.

We certainly know that we will only have access to the internet at certain locations and are fine with that.

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Old 23-06-2009, 07:22   #2
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Skype works well if you've got a good connection.
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Old 23-06-2009, 08:03   #3
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Skype works fine and Wifi is available almost everywhere. Cell service is available and "unlocked" phones are avaialble. You will need to switch out Sim cards as you move from island to island. We use Globalstar for email when WiFi is not available - as everywhere, coverage can be intermittent.
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Old 23-06-2009, 08:03   #4
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Skype works great! We even use it while not cruising now. We can call to Europe, from the U.S., for pennies! You'll find that there is a VERY good cruiser grapevine in the Caribbean. They will tell you things like, "oh, you have to go to Black's point, they have the best laundry!" Why? Well the Laundry is clean, cost effective (Can't say cheap and laundry in Caribbean ) and they have great internet access under the tree with the bench. You get there, and you see, and understand. So you'll find them more than willing to share internet access locations and such. That's how we originally learned about Skype. Some other cruisers told us about it.

So, you'll find places, even in the islands. You won't /shouldn't be afraid to ask others where, how and when (Okay, maybe don't ask about anchors!) They will let you know, or will know someone who will let you know.

You'll love cruising!!!! I can't wait to get back....
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Old 23-06-2009, 08:05   #5
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Skype is a good choice. I use it every day for personal & business calls from Grenada to the US. You get the option of inexpensive direct-dialed calls or free calls to other Skype users. Voice-only calls are fairly low-bandwidth so you'll still be able to connect even on sketchy wifi. Voice calls with video consume more bandwidth, something not available everywhere you're going to stop. Going into it with the knowledge that sometimes you're only going to be able to make voice calls due to circumstances beyond your control will save you a little needless frustration down the road.
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Old 23-06-2009, 09:16   #6
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Skype is a good choice if you only want to use it while your on your computer. I have the WIFI Skype that is suppose to work with out the computer but have found that 80% or more of the WIFI sites have a proxy page you have to pass through that the stand alone WIFI Skype phone (like a cell phone) can not handle.

And since Skype can only work when you have WIFI you are out of luck when your out of range. Availability of WIFI isn't exactly everywhere.... it is only near or in Marinas, towns, major cruising locations, and some beach side establishments but rarely in most of the better more isolated anchorages or while your underway. If your going to be a marina barnacle then it is OK but very hit and miss if you actually do much cruising around.

You best option may be to get a Cell Phone, the Pre-Paid that is unlocked and where you can get different SIM chips where you cruise. Each island is often a different country and a universal phone just does not exist yet. Good steps have been made in past couple of seasons but even with the same phone company, your roaming charges can be high just by location/ different country. A few overlap but for the lowest cost and widest range even where you have no WIFI, you will develop a set of SIM chips you change out as you move about the islands.

It is a very slow process but it is evident that some progress is being made where a single phone can be used in a larger Geo area. At this time ATT appears to be the one that has the widest coverage areas but often at a high price per minute.

I would recommend you have a cell that will work in the area your sailing for emergencies and for making reservations and even clearing Customs in some locations. Use Skype for the longer conversations when you reach a good WIFI source.

Again if your not actually cruising around, the Skype may be a good single source but I like the back up of a Cell if only to get calls when they come in and not have the constant power drain of having the computer on all the time.
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Old 23-06-2009, 09:42   #7
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Google a bit on skype spyware, skype port 80, skype user agreement, skype resource use, skype hackers. It is clearly evident that Skype opens Port 80 on your computer and locks it, installs a web server, and then they do whatever they want through that port. Read the user agreement especially Section 2.4 on third party software.

Personally, I will not have it on my computers, there's no way I will allow any software company that level of access to my computer. There are other alternatives that, for us, work without the negatives.
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Old 23-06-2009, 09:47   #8
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You must have missed thread on "Magic Jack".Mine should be in the mail right now.
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Old 23-06-2009, 11:51   #9
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I did a search for Magic Jack but have no idea what I am looking for.
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Old 23-06-2009, 11:53   #10
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never mind, I searched again for Magic Jack just in the title and found it
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Old 23-06-2009, 12:11   #11
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Skype works well sometimes. It's such a phenomenal value that hardly anyone complains about the quality, but I have found out the hard way that you can't rely on it totally in situations where you must have communications -- like for business purposes. Some days you just cannot get a decent connection, even when you have a perfectly good internet connection yourself.

So you should be sure to always have some kind of backup, if you need to be reachable. If for nothing else, then for emergencies. I would always have a GSM mobile phone with me and working. It's tricky in the Caribbean with rates (very expensive if you just roam with AT&T), but there are probably some local providers which provide reasonable rates in multiple Caribbean countries. You can usually buy a local SIM card for peanuts and just pop it in your phone (make sure it's unlocked). I'll bet someone here with more experience in the islands can give you better info.
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Old 23-06-2009, 14:33   #12
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Just a note on what we used last season for mail and calls. I got a netbook, a small Acer than runs on XP. It has a video camera and microphone built in. Excellent for Skype. Worked like a charm and on the few occasions when I had to take it ashore, it was so much easier than my old laptop.
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Old 23-06-2009, 15:06   #13
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Here in the states I use MSN instant messenger and video calls. Heading to Mexico in the fall, will that work there? (with wifi)
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Old 23-06-2009, 15:11   #14
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Yes, it'll work but I prefer Skype. If it's a poor connection or not enough bandwidth you can instant message with Skype. I've done that quite often as I rely on "free" wifi and sometimes there's not enough bandwidth for voice.
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Old 23-06-2009, 16:56   #15
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Any VOIP phone service usually requires a broadband connection to work well. Skype, Magic Jack, any vendor will offer you different services and features but they still need broadband to perform well.

Once you say "video"....you open a whole other can of worms. Video requires much MORE bandwidth and some places are blocking Skype video because they just don't have enough bandwidth to share when folks use video. So...by all means, use it when you can, but remember you are consuming lots of resources when you use video. Any video, from any supplier.
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