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An article written by our staff and featured in The Charter Connection

USING CELLULAR PHONES WHILE ON CHARTER - in the Caribbean
by Lynne

January 2005

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

Most charter companies in the BVI have phones installed on their boats, or have them available at the base. Some charter companies will ask in advance if you would like a phone for your charter. When you arrive, you activate the phone with a credit card, and a cell phone number is assigned to you. There is no rental fee, but a $175 deposit is taken up front for prepaid usage. This will be refunded to your credit card less any charges for incoming or outgoing calls. In addition, there is a $250 security deposit which is refunded with the safe return of the phone.

BoatPhone calls are expensive - up to $4.00 per minute, and you are billed for both incoming and outgoing calls. There is no charge for calls made to the charter company base office. See CCT Boatphone's website at: www.bvicellular.com for more information and an explanation of the charges. Once you are in the site, click on "Services". If you are bringing your own phone with you, check with your provider regarding roaming in the British Virgin Islands, on the Boatphone's website, click on "Roaming" for complete information about what you need to know to activate your cell phone for use in the BVI.

After your charter, if you have any questions regarding your billing, please contact CCT Boatphone directly. They will not negotiate refunds due you or charges under dispute unless they are speaking directly with the customer:

CCT Boatphone
Geneva Place, Road Town
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Tel: (284) 444-4444

US VIRGIN ISLANDS

Your own cell phone may work in the US Virgin Islands. Cingular Wireless and Sprint PCS phones will work since these two companies operate in the USVI. If you have an AT&T or Verizon phone, call your provider to inquire about roaming plans for this area.

For those sailing to the BVI, the service provider changes. When you arrive in the BVI and turn on your phone, you will get a signal from CCT Boatphone (the BVI cellular service provider). You can then register your phone with Boatphone using a credit card. For information about activating your cell phone for use in the BVI, or for renting a phone while you are visiting, go to www.bvicelluar.com for details.

Depending on the charter company, your boat may have a phone installed on board. VIP has phones on all their boats that may be used only when you enter the BVI and only for calls to VIP's office in St. Thomas. If you want, you may set up an account with BoatPhone directly to use the phone on board to keep in touch with home. However, the BoatPhone charges are expensive - up to $4.00 per minute.

CYOA does not provide phones on board at this time.

St. MAARTEN /St. MARTIN

East Caribbean Cellular is St. Maarten's/St. Martin's cellular phone provider. Most cell phones can be activited for service, however, check with your provider if roaming in this area is available with your plan. For more information on the service in St. Maarten/St. Martin, go to: www.eastcaribbeancellular.com For specific information for the French side of St. Martin, go to: www.StMartinMobiles.com

Pre-paid calling cards are available and are recommended for better rates.

If you are chartering with Sunsail, upon request they will arrange for the rental of a boat phone at no charge except for the calls.

GUADELOUPE and MARTINIQUE

Check with your provider regarding service in these areas. It is is our experience, however, that cellular service is not reliable and renting a satellite phone works best. www.travelcell.com

St. VINCENT & The GRENADINES

In St. Vincent, cell phones are provided by the bareboat charter companies. AT&T Wireless is now servicing in The Grenadines. If AT&T is the provider for your own cell phone, contact them for information on roaming in that area.

TMM provides each charterer with an AT&T mobile phone and a complimentary credit. This credit may be used to contact the base at any time. The phone may also be used to send and receive overseas calls. If you want to use the phone to stay in touch at home, you may purchase additional minutes.

Sunsail will provide a phone (at no charge) on request. You pay a $100 refundable security deposit and purchase a prepaid phone card at the base.

Barefoot has phones on all their boats. You purchase a prepaid phone card at the base. If you don't use it, Barefoot will buy it back from you.

BELIZE

TMM Belize provides a cell phone for each charter at the rate of $1.00 per day. This fee includes approximately 10 minutes of local calling time. TMM also supplies $50 of phone cards which are charged to you at the end of the charter only if used. These cards are available from the base office.

Some 1800 & 1900 band USA based cell phones & European Tri-Band cell phones will work in Belize. Check with your service provider.

Cell phones are not provided on Moorings boats. Cell phones are available for rent at the airport in Belize City.

The BAHAMAS

Check with your provider, but your own cellphone is not likely to work in The Bahamas. The charter companies don't have phones on board. They suggest renting a satellite phone. Try Travel Cell on line at: www.travelcell.com

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