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Planning a cruise with your family or a group of friends? Chances are not everyone will want to spend their time doing the same thing – especially with so many activities on offer.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to get everyone in the same place in time for dinner. This might sound easy enough, but what happens if someone’s plans change? How do you get in touch?

Back on land, the solution is easy – you simply pick up your mobile phone and call or text the other person. But on a large cruise ship, you'll quickly pay the price of costly mobile connections.

The good news is there are ways to stay connected onboard for free. Here are our top five:

Give them a call

If you know where the other person is, shipboard and stateroom phones offer the simplest way to reach out and let them know you’re running late. The great thing about this is that you don’t need to use your own mobile phone. However this only works if you know exactly where they are. Many cruise ships also have an in-cabin voicemail system allowing you to call and leave a message.


Walkie-talkies, or two-way radios, have long been a popular way for cruisers to keep in touch with fellow passengers onboard. These days you can purchase a pair of radios for around $50, and after that communication is completely free. Simply slip it into your pocket or on a belt clip to keep track of your kids or friends – wherever they are.

However, walkie-talkies come with some drawbacks. First, depending on the quality of radio, you might find it difficult to hear the other person, especially if there’s lots of background noise. Second, you risk annoying other passengers and disturbing the peace. The best way to overcome this is to use them with extreme consideration. Limit their use in public spaces, or switch them to silent or vibrate. And be sure to tell your kids to do the same.

Cabin Notes

Say goodbye to technology and go back to the good old days of writing notes to your loved ones. This is an easy and free way to tell people where you are and what time you'll be back. If you’re trying to organise a large group, pick one person’s cabin door as the group message board. Then give everyone a set of post-it notes and pen. Easy!

The Chosen Meeting Place

The simplest solutions are often the best – and in this case that means always having the same meeting place. So if you really are struggling to get in touch, you can simply sit in your group’s chosen lounge area and know that someone will show up…eventually!

Agree your plans

A little preparation goes a long way. Take the time at breakfast to agree when you will dine that evening and where you will meet. For shore excursions, decide on a meeting place before you disembark. With a little pre-planning, getting everyone together in one place is a breeze.

Above all, be sure to relax and enjoy the cruise. The more you try and keep tabs on everyone, the less enjoyable it will be for you and your fellow cruisers!