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Old 16-08-2016, 08:15   #1
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Caribbean cruising and cell phone question.

So we are planning to cruise the Caribbean for several months and want to have cellphone coverage. We are from Canada and have a plan with Rogers. Are people using roaming, buying a pay as you go local phone or contract/sim card etc? what is the best way (cost effective) to keep a cellphone on board in the Caribbean?

We will also use the more conventional marine comms VHF etc and investing in an Inreach.

thanks for any advice

Clive.
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Old 16-08-2016, 09:01   #2
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Re: Caribbean cruising and cell phone question.

First, I strongly advise checking with your Cell Phone Provider when you travel internationally.

Many companies offer International roaming, but either charge too much, or limited the number of days you can by out of their area. Several cruising friends of mine got caught paying crazy roaming charges, because they were full-time cruising and did not spend a majority of the cell time in their home countries.

You will find that almost every country you visit has a different cell phone carrier.

We found it easiest to purchase a "Unlocked" cell phone and then purchase a new SIM Card when we entered a new country.

They usually sell SIMs with prepaid minutes and allow recharging options.

If we were in a country to the point of running out of minutes, we found it was easier to use an Internet Company to recharge the SIM. Here is the link: www.prepaid.com

Finally, my wife's mother was in Italy when we were cruising. The wife found it cheapest to use the local cell phone to call her mother using an International Calling Card ($0.03 per minute from Mexico to Italy). She purchased them here: Cheap international calls - NobelCom

Today, with a reliable internet connection, I would just use Skype.

Have fun on your trip
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Old 16-08-2016, 10:00   #3
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Re: Caribbean cruising and cell phone question.

Clive,

Just buy a new sim card in each country.
Nothing else really works.
Yes your phone number is going to change, so email, facebook messenger etc are v important.

Mark
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Old 16-08-2016, 12:34   #4
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Re: Caribbean cruising and cell phone question.

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Clive,

Just buy a new sim card in each country.
Nothing else really works.
Yes your phone number is going to change, so email, facebook messenger etc are v important.

Mark
To keep my international number the same, I have a USA Skype number which can be configured to forward to my loca cell #. This way I can just resgister/give out one number. Better yet, callers never need to know Im not in the USA.
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Old 16-08-2016, 13:29   #5
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Re: Caribbean cruising and cell phone question.

Get a Google Fi account and a Google Nexus phone. Probably the best all around deal. No messing with sim cards or worrying about roaming..

https://fi.google.com/
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Old 17-08-2016, 08:45   #6
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Re: Caribbean cruising and cell phone question.

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Originally Posted by zerompg View Post
Get a Google Fi account and a Google Nexus phone. Probably the best all around deal. No messing with sim cards or worrying about roaming..

https://fi.google.com/
I have been using Fi for about a year.
My experience has been great while traveling including remote parts of Colombia.
The new Nexus line of phones will be coming out in about six weeks.
You get affordability and flexibility with a top end phone without any strings attached (you can insert a different SIM in the rare occurrence you need to).

I use my cell for business all day and my monthly bill is around $25-30 USD.
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Old 17-08-2016, 09:46   #7
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Re: Caribbean cruising and cell phone question.

I have never tried the google fi. That will be on the list.
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Old 17-08-2016, 10:00   #8
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Re: Caribbean cruising and cell phone question.

Looking at the Fi coverage map, they don't show any Caribbean coverage past the USVI.
https://fi.google.com/coverage
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Old 17-08-2016, 10:06   #9
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Re: Caribbean cruising and cell phone question.

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Originally Posted by zerompg View Post
Get a Google Fi account and a Google Nexus phone. Probably the best all around deal. No messing with sim cards or worrying about roaming..

https://fi.google.com/

Thank you for that link! I'm tired of being tied to AT&T, Sprint, etc at $100 ++ a month.
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Old 17-08-2016, 10:36   #10
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Re: Caribbean cruising and cell phone question.

In spite of the Fi graphic coverage map not showing coverage, they do show rates for the windward islands, that is all I checked. I may sign up as well. https://fi.google.com/about/rates/
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Old 17-08-2016, 15:39   #11
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Re: Caribbean cruising and cell phone question.

So we are planning to cruise the Caribbean for several months and want to have cellphone coverage. We are from Canada and have a plan with Rogers. Are people using roaming, buying a pay as you go local phone or contract/sim card etc? what is the best way (cost effective) to keep a cellphone on board in the Caribbean?

We will also use the more conventional marine comms VHF etc and investing in an Inreach.

thanks for any advice

Clive.[/QUOTE]

First - you must have a phone with a SIM card - outside the USA CDMA and TDMA are virtually non-existent. Also make sure that the phone has all four international bands. A lot of SIM card phones sold in the USA don't cover the frequencies used elsewhere (don't know about Canada). Then buy local SIM cards in each country. I used to buy a card in Jamaica for US$10 and load it with about US$15 which would last me two weeks of calling back to the US. You then reload the card. Also use WiFi and Skype or similar whenever possible. WiFi is usually available free, and Skype-out enables you to call 'real' telephone numbers anywhere in the world for a few US$ cents a minute if you can't talk Skype to Skype. International plans are all horribly expensive in my experience. Also check on line and see who covers more than one island in the Caribbean!
Good Luck!
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Old 17-08-2016, 16:05   #12
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Re: Caribbean cruising and cell phone question.

Just did a google search on this. I know there are other companies that offer similar plans where you have to be in an area with wifi to make or get calls and also offer plans where you mostly call from wifi hotspots but can also make a limited number of calls using cell towers (maybe only in the US). You also have voice mail so you can sail for a couple of days/weeks hit a wifi hot spot and check your voice mail and make calls if needed. You can get wifi only calls for something like $US5 a month if you check around.

wifi calls

republic
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Old 18-08-2016, 04:37   #13
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Re: Caribbean cruising and cell phone question.

Google Project Fi works great. They do have coverage in the Caribbean. Data is the same $10/gigabyte, but they limit the speed. Since we never get great data speeds in the Caribbean anyway, I don't think its an issue. The Nexus phone makes a pretty good local wifi hotspot, so you can connect your laptops and tablets with ease.

On the former-English islands, Digicel has a pretty good pre-paid deal. If you buy a SIM card on one island, it works just fine on all the other Digicel islands and at local rates. We did this last winter, and were happy with it. It doesn't help you on St. Martin, Guadeloupe, or Martinique, though.
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Old 18-08-2016, 15:17   #14
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Re: Caribbean cruising and cell phone question.

If you just need phone capability, the T-Mobile's International plan is great. The long distance charges are low, you can check email, FB, and whatever. There is no hot spot capability because most of the islands are only 3G. If you need internet, which I do for work, I've found either an unlocked broadband box or a Digicel dongle are great for most of the islands. We never got anything to work in Dominica. In St. Martin, you can get high speed, unlimited wifi for just under $200 a month from the Business Point. I don't know if any of the other islands have the service as we just discovered it on out way back north last season.

Depending on how much you use your internet, it can be pretty expensive. You need to make sure that your computer updates are turned off.

Maje
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Old 22-08-2016, 05:29   #15
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Re: Caribbean cruising and cell phone question.

I have been cruising Mexico and all of Central America for a few years. I have tried many plans and phones. I have settled on what I think is the best way to go. I have a Samsung s5 international phone with two SIM cards. One for the US and one for another country. It's water proof to some degree and I am on a sailboat. It allows me to have one phone with one address book. My daughter has t mobile in the states. She added me to her plan for $10 per month. With her t Mobil account I now have unlimited data and international calls for .20 per minute. The data is at 2g, but is free. I can set up a hotspot for all my wifi devices. It's slow, but it works and is again, free. I hook to wifi when available, but this works when wifi is not available. So for $120 a year it's a great way to go.
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