if your primary concern is that the old folks will have to reach you then there is only one service
you need to consider. Iridium
will cost you about $1500. then you buy airtime cards. but since you won't be making any (or many) calls you can easily control the cost of airtime cards. What you really want is a phone
number the old folks can call in an emergency
, and that's what an iridium
phone really gives you. you will have to keep the phone on 24/7 but that doesn't cost anything except electricity. you can also carry it around with you while you're touring the islands (try that with immarsat or an ssb!) so you really are always in reach. because iridium covers the entire globe - thanks to the good old u.s. government
- there is really no place on earth you can't be reached except maybe in a cave somewhere.
no contest. for being able to be reached and hold a conversation anywhere on this planet, iridium is the answer.
as for calling the old folks, we use Skype. unless you need to call them every day you are nearly always somewhere where internet
access is available. we have Skype on our laptop
and also on our smartphones. you can carry your smartphone around with you when you're touring and make Skype calls where you can find free or cheap internet
access. the cost of getting Skype is FREE. you will have to deposit some money
upfront in your accouint with them, but calls are very inexpensive. we call Bahamas
to u.s.a. for nine cents a minute.
we also keep in touch with the kids
using spot. every day we send a spot message which sends an email
to up to ten recipients. they know we are still alive and exactly where we are. costs about $150 for the unit and $100 a year for service
. the only downside is that the message is pretty much fixed, that is, you can't easily change the message every day, although it is possible if you have internet access.
finally there are cellphones. every country on earth - except the u.s.a. - uses the gsm system. there are now several gsm systems in the u.s.a., notably at&t, but their phones are not suitable because they are locked on to at&t and can't be used with any other company or country without being unlocked. probably not worth the hassle. here's my solution.
when you get to another country, buy a cellphone. get the cheapest one. they are all unlocked. you can now use this phone in any other country on earth by simply buying
the local sim card with talk time on it. when you get to another island, get the local sim card with time. in the Bahamas
the cheapest phone is $30, and with sim card setup and time the minimum is about $60. air time to the u.s.a. from the Bahamas was fifty cents a minute. but once you own the phone It can be used everywhere on earth - including the u.s.a. go figure.
and just to remind you, one of the reasons to go cruising is to leave all that stuff behind you.....