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Old 12-08-2012, 07:01   #1
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Any Suggestions For Best Cell Phone Package To Use For Caribbean ?

Hello,
We are from Ontario, Canada and are going to be sailing the east coast of the US to the bahamas to the caribbean. Last year, we had a canadian cell phone with us, plus we purchased an american cell phone and a bahamas cell phone. Our Canadian cell phone is extremely expensive in the states and even more expensive in the Bahamas. We plan on sailing further south this year (antiqua, barbados, over to aruba). Can anyone suggest what type of cell to purchase, are we better to get a blackberry or an iphone, can you suggest a package to purchase, are there any packages to purchase in Canada, or can we purchase one in the states?
Any suggestion would be appreciated. Thank you kindly.
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Old 12-08-2012, 07:03   #2
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Re: Any suggestions for best cell phone/package to use for caribbean?

Get an open phone and buy sim cards in each country.
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Old 12-08-2012, 07:17   #3
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Re: Any suggestions for best cell phone/package to use for caribbean?

Verizon seems to have the best coverage along the East Coast of the U.S. for voice and data. You might also want to buy a phone that can serve as a wifi hot spot, as that is a very convenient way to get Internet coverage.

Also, consider a Globalstar satellite phone. They still have plans with unlimited use for $39.99 a month. You can get a Globalstar phone cheap on Ebay. We just used ours on a cruise to the Bahamas. Their coverage isn't continuous. Sometimes you have to wait 20-30 minutes to get a good signal. But this turns out not to be much of an inconvenience, and the voice quality is excellent once you get a signal. Plus, they are still launching new satellites, so the service should continue to improve. This was such a reliable method of staying in touch that we didn't fiddle around with getting a local cell phone in the Bahamas.

Between Globalstar and an open GSM cell phone with locally-purchased SIM cards, you should be able to keep in excellent touch for a very reasonable cost all along your route.
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Old 12-08-2012, 08:08   #4
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Re: Any suggestions for best cell phone/package to use for caribbean?

Thank you to both replies. An open phone - we presently have a motorola razor phone, which is probably 5 years old. Sound like we need to have a GSM phone. I see some for sale on ebay, advertised as 'unlocked gsm phones'. I am assuming we should purchase one of those, then purchase the sim cards. Is it difficult to find sim cards along the way and does the phone number stay the same? Thanks again.
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Old 12-08-2012, 08:11   #5
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Re: Any suggestions for best cell phone/package to use for caribbean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tia Bu View Post
Verizon seems to have the best coverage along the East Coast of the U.S. for voice and data. You might also want to buy a phone that can serve as a wifi hot spot, as that is a very convenient way to get Internet coverage.

Also, consider a Globalstar satellite phone. They still have plans with unlimited use for $39.99 a month. You can get a Globalstar phone cheap on Ebay. We just used ours on a cruise to the Bahamas. Their coverage isn't continuous. Sometimes you have to wait 20-30 minutes to get a good signal. But this turns out not to be much of an inconvenience, and the voice quality is excellent once you get a signal. Plus, they are still launching new satellites, so the service should continue to improve. This was such a reliable method of staying in touch that we didn't fiddle around with getting a local cell phone in the Bahamas.

Between Globalstar and an open GSM cell phone with locally-purchased SIM cards, you should be able to keep in excellent touch for a very reasonable cost all along your route.
Globalstar - I will look it up on ebay. Just wondering if easy to find the sim cards in the islands and I am assuming the phone number will stay the same?
Thank you, sorry we aren't up to speed on cell phones!
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:49   #6
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Re: Any suggestions for best cell phone/package to use for caribbean?

For both Internet access and phone service I go with the "purchase a local SIM" approach. SIM chips are cheap, readily available in most popular cruising venues, and local service in most venues is much less expensive than roaming. If you plan to be in an area for a while this is works out quite well.

To do this your phone must be "unlocked". Meaning that it is not restricted to operating with a particular network. If you bought it through a major cellular carrier the it is almost certainly locked.

Your phone number will change each time you swap SIMs. The way I deal with this is to keep a USA based Skype number which transfers to my local cell. This way people can still just call the same USA number.

Also, if you plan to return to an area later be aware that in some venues they will deactivate your SIM after a certain period of non-use. If you want to keep it active just call the number once a month. In most venues this will keep it from being deactivated.

Re Globalstar. Phones and service have become cheap for a reason. You get what you pay for. Before going with Globalstar be sure you actually have coverage in the area you plan to cruise. Do not believe the coverage map published by Global Star -- talk with cruisers who have actually used Globarstar in your intended area recently.
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:28   #7
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Re: Any suggestions for best cell phone/package to use for caribbean?

Try the local sim. Check mrsimcard.com +1-703-953-2272 | +44.7520763500. They have a lot of options and it looks like even have a card that will work in many locations. I used this in the BVI and it worked great for a few calls and also data.
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:38   #8
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Re: Any suggestions for best cell phone/package to use for caribbean?

We stick our phones in shrink wrap and stow them in our overboard bag till we get home !! we are old fashion and use our SSB and a modem for getting in touch with friends and family ! worked for us for a long time and costs a lot less them messing about with sim cards ect ect Of course we think folks are just getting to dependant on electronics, and forgetting that cruiseing is "saposed" to be relaxing LOL We know where we are ! and don't think everybody else in the world needs to have constant contact with us ! I know this seems backwards to some but we sorta like it that way !! just our 2 cents
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Old 12-08-2012, 19:04   #9
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Re: Any suggestions for best cell phone/package to use for caribbean?

In my (recent) experience, Globalstar works great in the Bahamas and offshore of Southeast U.S.
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Old 12-08-2012, 21:33   #10
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Re: Any suggestions for best cell phone/package to use for caribbean?

Spot Connect? $99 a year US, and can interface with your smart phone via WiFi. Big service hole in the Pacific, though......read, 90+% of the Pacific.
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Old 15-08-2012, 04:05   #11
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We're doing exactly what you plan to.

Skype number forwarded to cell phone for incoming Skype for outgoing Local sims anywhere we will be longer than 1 week

Tony

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www.ispaf.com
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Old 15-08-2012, 11:27   #12
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Re: Any Suggestions For Best Cell Phone Package To Use For Caribbean ?

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Originally Posted by Tday01 View Post
We're doing exactly what you plan to.

Skype number forwarded to cell phone for incoming Skype for outgoing Local sims anywhere we will be longer than 1 week
...
Works great for me. Only 1 number for anyone not local to remember. Makes it much easier to deal with State-side businesses etc. If I don't currently have a local number or will be away from it for a while, I just set Skype up to forward to voice mail...and I get an email notification of any new voice mails when I am back in a service area.

Only little glitch is that if I miss the call transferred to my local number then it rolls to local voice mail, which is typically a non-english greeting, and confuses people. No way to change that greeting on many pre-paid phone services I have used.

SIM pricing here in the NW Carib at least I have found amusing. It seems to be that they all cost around 50 -- regardless of the local currency. In Guatemala about Q50, Honduras 50 Limps, Belize BZ$50 (by far the most expensive of course!). I've got a little SIM collection going (about half a dozen countries now), would be handy to have a phone that could automatically switch between a couple of SIMS for those of us who cross borders often.
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