A lot of folks asked, "how did you get permission to operate aboard the cruise ship?" It's been quite a while since I promised I'd publish the info, but better late than never...
My wife Deb (KD0ZJP) and I scheduled a Trans-Atlantic cruise that would originate in Fort Lauderdale, FL and end in Rome (Civitavecchia) with multiple stops around the Mediterranean. Since we embarked in Ft. Lauderdale and our first port of call was Gibraltar, we had 8 days at sea to find things to do before we would ever step foot on land again... What to do for 8 days I thought.... Ham Radio! I'll ask if I can bring my equipment on board and operate while we are at sea... I've outlined below what my experience was, your experience may vary. Remember, the cruise lines own the ships so they have the right to change policies at any time...
Getting Permission from the Cruise Line & Captain
It all started with an email to the cruise line customer service email address. The exact email I used (with some edits to obscure personal information) is listed below:
My wife and I will be aboard a transatlantic cruise on the Ruby Princess (April 28, 2013 - May 12, 2013, booking number XXXXXXX). I am an Amateur Radio Operator (sometimes better known a Ham Radio operator) and would like to bring along some radio equipment to operate from the ship while traversing the Atlantic Ocean. I am inquiring as to the ability to be able to bring my radio hobby with me on this special trip as well as operate the equipment from your ship. I have obtained permission from the Government of Bermuda Department of Telecommunications (Registry of the Ruby Princess) to operate under their rules and regulations. What I am requesting is permission from the owner and Master of the Ship to operate under both Bermudian and International Maritime Law. Is there a process you company has to request such permission, and if so I would gladly provide any needed information.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.
It was as simple as that, and we were on our way. About a week later I received this response from Princess Cruise Line's Customer Relations Department:
We received your Ham Radio request and requirements. We will need your signature on the below attachment to proceed.
The attachment generally represented what I have below:
Dear: Mr Bennett
Here is the list of requirements that you would need to comply to for traveling with your amateur/ham radio. In addition, we will need a copy of your user license. Please print out and take this with you to the ship as acknowledgement of receipt. You will need to sign and fax this back to us acknowledging you have received and understood the requirements. Once returned, we will forward on to request final approval and you will be notified as soon as possible.
• The radio is used on a non interference basis;
• The transmission must immediately cease should this cause interference;
• No wire antennas are accepted;
• The maximum length of the whip antenna must not exceed five feet.
• The whip antenna must not protrude from the vessel ie: clamped to the balcony handrail and cannot be used in public areas;
• The maximum transmitted power must not exceed 25W (pep);
• Power supply, chargers and transceiver are subject to the portable appliance test prior to these being used onboard. The test to be coordinated with the staff Electro-Technical officer (SETO) via the purser's department;
• It is the responsibly of the passenger to obtain all the necessary licenses to operate the radio in the different countries visited by the vessel and to comply with all the applicable local and international regulations;
• Final permission to operate Amateur radio Equipment onboard a vessel is at the discretion of the Master whose approval is required before permission is granted. This approval will be requested once a letter showing compliant equipment details and license information has been submitted to Princess Cruises.
Have a great sail
Princess Cruises Customer Assistance
Another week later, I received this email:
Approval has been given from Captain John, for you to bring on board the radio equipment.
We look forwarded to Welcoming you aboard the Ruby Princess.
Success!!!! We had permission from both the Cruise Line and Captain to bring our equipment aboard and operate in accordance with the rules they outlined above...
Now, to get permission from the Government in which the ship is flagged so we can legally operate while on the ship... I did a quick Google search "Ruby Princess Flag" and all the information I found came back as the ship is registered/ flagged in the country of Bermuda... See my sub-page that outlines what I did to obtain a reciprocal operating permit from Bermuda...