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Old 17-01-2024, 06:54   #1
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Please explain like I'm an idiot: cruising internet and phone (Caribbean)

I've been putting this off with the rationalization that technology changes so quickly. However, since we are heading to the Caribbean for full-time liveaboard cruising life before the end of the year, I really need to figure this out.

Let me start off by saying that despite knowing very little about these things, I am the default IT department in our family. Any advice would be greatly appreciated - pretend I know nothing, which isn't a stretch!

I've read through threads here and in other forums, watched videos, scrolled Facebook, etc., and I'm still at a loss. It doesn't help that it seems like the systems that were the best option 6 months ago are no longer the best option!

Internet
We have single sideband onboard and my husband is going to get his license, so I don't think we need wifi while underway (Or do we?) since we can get weather updates and report emergencies that way.

We'll spend much of our time at anchor - what is the best wifi option? We'll have 1-2 smartphones, a tablet, and a laptop onboard. I'd like to be able to upload photos and update our blog, but we aren't going to be YouTube stars.

Talk/Text Phone
It seems like buying new sim cards in each country is the best option. Does that mean we'll have new phone numbers in each country? Obviously, that's an inconvenience for several reasons. Is there a work around for that? I bought my iPhone and iPad directly from Apple (refurbished), so I think it is unlocked and able to accept any sim. I think WhatsApp can take the place of texting. Is there something I'm not thinking about here?

I know some people hate the "tell me everything" questions that end up in forums, and think "Google is your friend, or "do your research." But, trust me, I have and I'm still lost! So cruisers . . . what works for you?
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Old 17-01-2024, 08:21   #2
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Re: Please explain like I'm an idiot: cruising internet and phone (Caribbean)

Star Link is the answer by far to most of your questions.

Last year I didn't get a new sim card and "only" had cell service when I was on boat with SL wifi of somewhere else with wifi. Have much internet as I want, anywhere!
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Old 17-01-2024, 10:24   #3
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Re: Please explain like I'm an idiot: cruising internet and phone (Caribbean)

It really depends on where you are and what your needs are. If you need Internet for work, then in most cases it's Starlink. Some places have cell phone access that is fast enough, and other anchorages will have no cell phone access.

If you can hold of sending the photos until you change anchorages, then SIM cards are probably fine.

If you get Starlink, most carriers now support "wifi calling" and as long as your Starlink is up, your phone will work, anywhere in the world. No buying new SIMS everywhere. Although a local SIM might be cheaper than the long distance phone charges from your phone number.

It wasn't very long ago that Internet access while cruising was pure luxury. I am in the group that is addicted, and it was good for me to have nothing for extended periods. For the first few days disconnected, I would pick up my phone a few times, open Facebook, and then it wouldn't load. By the end of the first week I was picking up more healthy habits again. So, if you really don't NEED Internet, that is a consideration- and cheaper.

If you do get Starlink, you probably will never use your SSB.
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Old 17-01-2024, 10:54   #4
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Re: Please explain like I'm an idiot: cruising internet and phone (Caribbean)

Agree with the above. Sounds like Starlink is the way to go for your usage.
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Old 17-01-2024, 13:06   #5
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Re: Please explain like I'm an idiot: cruising internet and phone (Caribbean)

One extra thing you could consider is that, if you have a US landline number that you no longer need, you can park that number with a VOIP service and people can still call and leave voicemail for you.

We have our old landline number with voip.ms. They are extremely cheap and I get email when someone leaves a voicemail. The only downside is that they seem more oriented to people managing large phone systems so setup was a bit challenging, but the costs are so low I was happy to put in the effort.
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Old 17-01-2024, 15:00   #6
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Re: Please explain like I'm an idiot: cruising internet and phone (Caribbean)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Love and Luck View Post
Internet
We have single sideband onboard and my husband is going to get his license, so I don't think we need wifi while underway (Or do we?) since we can get weather updates and report emergencies that way.

We'll spend much of our time at anchor - what is the best wifi option? We'll have 1-2 smartphones, a tablet, and a laptop onboard. I'd like to be able to upload photos and update our blog, but we aren't going to be YouTube stars.

Talk/Text Phone
It seems like buying new sim cards in each country is the best option. Does that mean we'll have new phone numbers in each country? Obviously, that's an inconvenience for several reasons. Is there a work around for that? I bought my iPhone and iPad directly from Apple (refurbished), so I think it is unlocked and able to accept any sim. I think WhatsApp can take the place of texting. Is there something I'm not thinking about here?

k "Google is your friend, or "do your research." But, trust me, ?
what apple refurbished (reed used cleaned with air and water) have with caribian turist sim card.

no you need 4/5g LTO sim card router. like this.
https://www.outdoorrouter.com/produc...odem-dual-sim/

or mobile mifi router (to small antena.
https://www.amazon.com/RoamWiFi-R10-.../dp/B08G8FK29N
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Old 17-01-2024, 15:21   #7
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Re: Please explain like I'm an idiot: cruising internet and phone (Caribbean)

A work around to keep your existing phone number(s) would be to maintain your current cel provider account and forward it to whatever your new cel number(s) will be. If you don’t have call forwarding as part of your plan you may need to change or upgrade. This does mean you’ll buy a new SIM card in every country, and have to learn a new phone number each time, but your family, friends, work, etc. can still just call your current number to reach you. A local SIM also has the advantage of being able to give a local number if you need to and may make calling locally easier too. It also provides a layer of anonymity between your personal phone number and the various contacts you likely will make during your travels.

Going the local SIM route also opens up data/internet access so you can use your smart phone and tablet as you would now when within cel range in that country, which may be a fair ways off shore and may keep you connect if you plan to do some coastal cruising. If you go this route you may want to look at a cellular booster antenna for your boat which will help if you end up in areas with poor signal.

A clarification, and pardon if you already understand this but for me it was confusing. You mention wifi several times and from your questions I feel like you mean internet access. Wifi is not internet access. Wifi is a way for devices to talk to each other, which includes your phone or tablet talking to a router or receiver that is an access point to the internet. That could be a Starlink receiver, a cellular connection (like using your phone as a hotspot), or a hard wired connection such as you (probably) have in your home - a cable coming in that plugs into a router which your devices talk to via wifi.

The reason this is important is because another tool in the box to supplement local SIM (cellular) use could be a wifi hub for your boat and a wifi booster antenna, which would help you connect to public or marina wifi (which is providing a access to the internet) if it is available. Just like at home, anywhere you can access wifi for free means you don’t have to use cel plan data.


A wifi hub in your boat may also find other uses as many instruments and boat systems have wifi connectivity that requires a local wifi network. There are some good posts on the forum already about wifi networks for your boat and what you can do with them, and others on cellular boosters as well.
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Old 18-01-2024, 05:24   #8
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Re: Please explain like I'm an idiot: cruising internet and phone (Caribbean)

Our experience has been buying local sims with enough data to forage on the www is about the same price as activating the international plan from our stateside cell phone provider with an unlimited data plan.

The monthly Star link cost is slightly higher but there is always a signal even in remote locations. No more standing on deck trying to squeak out just enough signal to get a weather forecast.
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