What is Cruise Hams?


Cruise Hams is a term used to describe a specific type of radio amateur who enjoys operating their equipment while on board cruise ships. This niche hobby combines the joy of cruising with the thrill of amateur radio communication. Cruise Hams have the opportunity to connect with fellow enthusiasts around the world, even while exploring the high seas.

1. Combining Two Passions: Cruising and Ham Radio

For many people, cruising and ham radio are separate hobbies. However, Cruise Hams have discovered a way to combine these two passions into one unique experience. While on board a cruise ship, they can set up their radio equipment and communicate with other radio amateurs across the globe. This allows them to enjoy their favorite pastime while enjoying the amenities and beauty of a cruise vacation.

1.1 Benefits of Being a Cruise Ham

Being a Cruise Ham offers several benefits:

  • Opportunity to operate radio equipment in different geographical locations
  • Access to fellow radio amateurs from various countries and cultures
  • Exploring new bands and frequencies while at sea
  • Potential for rare contacts and unique QSL cards
  • Enhanced radio propagation conditions due to the ship’s location
  • Opportunity to participate in special events and contests

2. Setting Up Radio Equipment on a Cruise Ship

Operating radio equipment on a cruise ship requires careful planning and consideration. Cruise Hams must adhere to certain guidelines and regulations to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for themselves and fellow passengers.

2.1 Antennas and Mounting Solutions

Due to limited space and restrictions on cruise ships, Cruise Hams often face challenges when it comes to setting up their antennas. They need to find creative solutions, such as:

  • Using portable or lightweight antennas
  • Utilizing balcony mounts for better signal reception
  • Exploring options for temporary installations

2.2 Power Supply and Electrical Considerations

Cruise Hams must also consider their power supply needs while on board. They typically rely on:

  • Battery power to operate their equipment
  • Portable generators for longer duration cruises
  • Power converters to match different electrical systems on board

Amateur Radio Cruising: Ham Nation 227

3. Communication Modes and Frequencies

Cruise Hams can engage in various communication modes and frequencies while on board. These include:

3.1 Voice Communication

Using voice communication, Cruise Hams can engage in casual conversations, exchange information, and make new connections. They typically use single sideband (SSB) mode on frequencies allocated for amateur radio use.

3.2 Digital Modes

Digital modes offer efficient and reliable communication options for Cruise Hams. They can use modes such as:

  • Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDOP)
  • FT8 (popular for weak signal communication)
  • PSK31 (used for keyboard-to-keyboard chatting)

3.3 Satellite Communication

Some cruise ships offer satellite communication services, allowing Cruise Hams to connect with fellow amateurs via satellite. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities, as they can communicate with others even when far away from terrestrial infrastructure.

4. Joining Cruise Ham Events and Contests

Cruise Hams have the opportunity to participate in special events and contests organized for radio amateurs on cruises. These events often bring together enthusiasts from different backgrounds and countries to share their experiences and compete in friendly competitions.

4.1 Cruise Ham Meetups

Meetups provide Cruise Hams with a chance to connect face-to-face with fellow enthusiasts. These gatherings may include presentations, workshops, and social activities centered around amateur radio.

4.2 Cruise Contests

Contests on cruise ships allow Cruise Hams to showcase their skills in a competitive environment. They can participate in various categories and win prizes based on their performance.

Cruise Hams have the opportunity to explore different parts of the world while indulging in their hobby. Some popular cruise destinations among Cruise Hams include:

5.1 Caribbean

The Caribbean offers Cruise Hams a chance to experience beautiful tropical islands and connect with other radio amateurs in the region.

5.2 Mediterranean

Cruising the Mediterranean allows Cruise Hams to visit historic cities, enjoy breathtaking views, and communicate with amateurs from various European countries.

5.3 Alaska

Alaska cruises offer unique opportunities for Cruise Hams to witness stunning landscapes, encounter wildlife, and engage with amateurs from North America.

6. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Can anyone become a Cruise Ham?

A1: Yes, anyone with an interest in amateur radio and cruising can become a Cruise Ham. It is important to familiarize yourself with the necessary regulations and guidelines to ensure a smooth experience.

Q2: Do I need special permission to operate radio equipment on a cruise ship?

A2: Yes, you may need to obtain permission from the cruise line to operate radio equipment on their ship. It is recommended to contact the cruise line in advance to inquire about their policies and any required permits.

Q3: What equipment do I need to be a Cruise Ham?

A3: As a Cruise Ham, you will need a portable radio transceiver, suitable antennas, power supply options, and any necessary adapters or converters to match the ship’s electrical systems.

Q4: Are there any restrictions on the frequencies I can use while on a cruise ship?

A4: While there are designated frequencies for amateur radio use, it is essential to adhere to the ship’s regulations and any national laws regarding radio communications.

Q5: Can I make contacts with other Cruise Hams while at sea?

A5: Yes, you can make contacts with other Cruise Hams while at sea. Many enthusiasts enjoy connecting with fellow radio amateurs and exchanging QSL cards as souvenirs of their unique encounters.

Q6: Are there any specific safety considerations for operating radio equipment on a cruise ship?

A6: It is crucial to prioritize safety when operating radio equipment on a cruise ship. Always follow the ship’s guidelines, avoid interfering with ship systems, and take necessary precautions to prevent accidents or damage.

Q7: How can I find out about upcoming Cruise Ham events and contests?

A7: You can stay informed about upcoming Cruise Ham events and contests through various channels, including online forums, amateur radio clubs, social media groups, and dedicated websites that cater to the Cruise Ham community.


Cruise Hams enjoy a unique combination of cruising and amateur radio, allowing them to explore the world while staying connected with fellow enthusiasts. They face challenges in setting up their equipment on board but have the opportunity to engage in various communication modes and participate in special events and contests. Whether in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, or Alaska, Cruise Hams continue to embrace this fascinating hobby and create lasting memories.

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