Did you know that there are cruise ships at sea that are longer than the Eiffel Tower? Wonder of the Seas measures a whopping 1,083 feet long, with Icon of the Seas coming in even longer at 1,198 feet.
With so many activities going on simultaneously, it's rather easy to get separated from your party. Some may want to lounge by the pool, while others want to explore the youth clubs or attend trivia at one of the lounges.
If you are planning the ultimate family vacation onboard one of today's massive cruise ships, you are likely researching how to stay in contact with everyone, especially if you do not want to pay for multiple internet packages or have younger children cruising with you.
Walkie-talkies are popular because good ones will work across the entire ship and let you talk to others in your travel group without spending hundreds on Wi-Fi packages.
Here are the best walkie-talkies to purchase for your next family cruise:
🚢 Topsung M880 FRS Walkie-Talkies
🚢 Retevis RT22 Walkie-Talkies
🚢 MOICO Walkie-Talkies
🚢 NOAA 2 Way Radios Walkie-Talkies
🚢 pxton Rechargeable Walkie-Talkies
Please note that in this article, we have linked Amazon items that contain an affiliate link. The affiliate link costs you nothing extra, but Cruise.Blog will make a small commission if you purchase the item through the link.
Are walkie-talkies actually allowed on cruises?
The majority of mainstream cruise lines permit walkie-talkies onboard, including Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, and Princess Cruises. In July 2023, Norwegian Cruise Line updated their list of banned items to include walkie-talkies, meaning that you won't be able to bring them onboard any Norwegian ship.
Unless you have a specific license, however, you should refrain from taking General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) walkie-talkies with you. While these are more powerful and operate on a higher frequency from 462 HMz to 467 HMz, they work on the same frequencies as some emergency services. These exclusive channels are reserved for emergency distress calls.
For that reason, GMRS walkie-talkies cannot be purchased without a license.
The best Family Radio Service (FRS) walkie-talkies
FRS walkie-talkies use a lower frequency wavelength, so they don't interfere with emergency services. Since they aren't as powerful, they are cheaper than GMRS walkie-talkies, too. That doesn't mean there aren't more expensive options that can operate further apart.
The best walkie-talkies for cruise vacations are those that can work through solid surfaces while indoors. These are deemed UHF, or Ultra High Frequency, walkie-talkies.
While these won't work 100% of the time on a cruise ship, they're perfect for when you are out and about in hallways and corridors (i.e., more open spaces instead of inside of your cabin) and want to ask someone what they're up to or when dinner is.
Topsung M880 FRS Walkie-Talkie
The Topsung M880 GRS Walkie-Talkies have 22 different channels to communicate on. They also have a power-saving function, which could be useful if you spend the majority of the day out and about. Moreover, a pack of two on Amazon only costs $45, making them roughly $11.25 each.
One review on Amazon posted on September 1, 2022 from Ludachrisnc reads, "We used them all over the ship. (Carnival Sunshine). They work everywhere except the casino which I expected."
The primary con is that the range varies based on the terrain. Some reviews have reported issues using them on cruise ships; however, due to the amount of metal on a cruise ship, there's always a risk of interference.
Retevis RT22 Walkie-Talkies
The Retevis RT22 Walkie-Talkies are just slightly more expensive than the Topsung M880 FRS four-pack, coming in at just about $60. They have fewer available channels; however, many reviews talk about how useful they were on cruise ships.
Like with the Topsung walkie-talkies, though, it is likely that they won't work when you are inside of your cabin. If you purchase them and are struggling to reach your kids or other individuals on the ship, try moving to the nearest elevator bank, as Melissa W suggested on Amazon:
"They worked ok. But when in the room sometimes the signal didn’t reach. But when I was out searching for my kids at night I could find them much easier near the elevators. Lol it was worth it."
The MOICO Walkie-Talkies aren't ideal for those who are interested in purchasing top-tier walkie-talkies, as the range is not as great as other sets.
These are best for families who expect their children to always be within line of sight, such as on the opposite end of the lido deck at the splash pad area while mom and dad enjoy a kid-free cocktail.
According to GLTHW from Amazon, if someone wanders to a different deck, they most likely won't work: "Didn’t work on our cruise. We bought this for our kids. We lost communication with our kids only one deck up."
At just $40, however, they are a cost-effective option for those with younger children who won't wander too far.
NOAA 2 Way Radios Walkie-Talkies
While more expensive than some of the other options on this list, the NOAA 2 Way Radios Walkie-Talkies comes with an earpiece, which is helpful so you can keep your conversations more private and not disturb those around you when trying to reach a family member and can keep your conversations more private. The quality of the earpiece isn't that of AirPods or other high-end earbuds, but it is a neat feature.
Plus, since each comes in a different color, you won't have to worry about anyone bickering over which device is theirs.
Note, however, that there have been some negative reviews about charging, as each device takes a while to fully charge, and only a single charging cable is provided.
pxton Rechargeable Walkie-Talkies
For $29, the pxton Rechargeable Walkie-Talkies are yet another budget-friendly option. What makes these stand out are the wrap-around earpieces, as they won't fall out of your ear as easily. Plus, each walkie-talkie comes with its own base, making recharging a breeze.
Of course, you'll want to keep in mind that unless you are sailing on a newer cruise ship, outlets in your cabin will be limited— some having only one or two standard American outlets!
Overall, the quality of these walkie-talkies isn't as compromised as some other budget sets. Additionally, they have a decent range.
Are walkie-talkies the best way to stay connected on a cruise?
Due to the way cruise ships are built, most walkie-talkies are not 100% reliable. If you're in your cabin and want to try and reach someone who is on the lido deck or grabbing lunch at the buffet, you most likely won't be able to get through.
Thankfully, most cruise lines have some sort of chat function that's available on their mobile app. Although not always free, this will allow you to easily communicate with people in your party no matter where they are. It's also cheaper than purchasing an internet package for everyone. On Norwegian Cruise Line, for instance, the cost is $9.95 per device.
Of course, there are sometimes age limitations. If you're cruising on Royal Caribbean with those younger than 12, they won't be permitted to use the chat function, even though it is free. In that case, you will either have to get them their own internet package (if they have a cellular device or iPod) or rely on walkie-talkies.
It's not uncommon to see post-it notes or whiteboards on stateroom doors, too. While not as instant, this is another way people communicate with those in their travel party without paying for any extra services, such as Wi-Fi or chat features. The major downside to this method of communication is that you'll have to return to your cabin to see if any messages have been left.