Cruise Plan Update

Getting closer to “Cruise Day” and plans are proceeding on schedule. Itinerary changed and visitor operating permissions obtained.

Since the last update on my cruise plans, MSC Cruises has notified us that our port of call in Ocho Rios, Jamaica has been moved instead to Falmouth, Jamaica due to pier damage that makes it unsafe to dock. I guess this then makes the fact that I have failed to hear anything back from the Jamaican SMA regarding my visitor operator license application request okay as there are no POTA parks within the Trelawny Parrish that Falmouth is located, unlike Saint Ann Parrish where Ocho Rios is located that had a quaint little park not far from the port.

As of my last update I had already obtained my operating permissions from OFREG in the Cayman Islands, but now I have also received them from the URCA in the Bahamas which was my other port of call I had planned to activate. While I now hold my Amateur Extra class license which gives me reciprocal operating privileges under [CEPT], I am still not trying to get permission from the Ship’s Master (Captain) to be able to operate from the cruise ship while in international waters. Maybe after I see how this trip goes I might look into that on a future cruising, but for now I am going to just be happy doing POTA during our port of calls.

The cruise itinerary has us departing Port Canveral, Florida on Sunday and has us scheduled to reach Nassau, Bahamas by 10:00 EST (14:00 UTC) on Monday with a scheduled departure at 18:00 EST (22:00 UTC). The plan so far is to activate BS-0025 as it is the closest park to the cruise terminal. I had BS-0023 as a possible alternative or an additional park to activate while in port, but unfortunately checking back on it I’ve found from BNT that operates the parks that it is currently closed for habitat restoration and infrastructural repairs. If I have time and can secure transportation I might consider BS-0022 as an additional park to activate time permitting. Since the parks do have a fee to enter I decided to go ahead and become a BNT member which gives free entry to all parks for the year. I consider it just as I do the annual pass for the Florida State Parks so I can activate them. It is supporting the parks to ensure they are here for us to enjoy!

We will be at sea on Tuesday and scheduled to reach Jamaica on Wednesday. The scheduled arrival is 08:00 EST (12:00 UTC) when it was Ocho Rios but don’t know if that is still the same for Falmouth. Thursday is scheduled to arrive in George Town, Cayman Islands by 08:00 EST (12:00 UTC) with scheduled departure at 16:00 EST (20:00 UTC). I have got my sights on activating KY-0010 that is walking distance from the cruise port. I have been in contact with ZF1PB and hoping to meet up with him and anyone else from the CARS that is available while I am in port. Again depending on time and transportation I have KY-0003, KY-0009 and KY-0004 that might be on the block for activation as well.

The rest of the cruise itinerary has us in Cozumel, Mexico on Friday and back to Port Canaveral on Sunday after another day at sea. While there is 17 POTA parks registered on the small Cozumel Island and many appear to never have been activated prior, there is no reciprocal agreements in place between the USA and Mexico. Maybe that will change or I can look to see what is required to get a license under Mexico for a future trip.

While the scheduled port calls are around 8 hours long, I know I will not have the full 8 hours as it will take time to get off the ship and make my way to the parks I intend to activate. Going out on my own I am also very aware that I need to be onboard the ship by the “All Aboard” time or risk being left behind and a huge expense to get to the next port to get back on the ship so I do not want to risk that. Also not being sure of transportation I have tried to target parks near the cruise terminals. If I’m able to secure transportation then I will try to activate as many parks as time permits of course. What I do not get to activate this trip, there will always be another as Caribbean cruises are very easy to take from Florida ports.

Honestly, everything is looking good at this point in the plans. I did have someone from MSC reach out via phone the other week and I was able to explain my plans and my concern to make sure everything was done above board to ensure no issues at the terminal during embarkation. To this point I have not received anything further back from MSC, which honestly at this point does not surprise me, so I am proceeding as planned. I have spoken with other content creators who have taken drones with them on cruises to use while in port on MSC ships with positive results despite initial security concerns. The suggestion made to me by one was to ensure I keep a copy of my licenses with the radio and if questions come up to politely ask to speak with the Captain at the terminal as they did so and their drone was released to go aboard. I had already planned to have copies with me in my laptop back along with the other cruise documents, so I will just print an extra copy to place in the case with the radio.

I am so looking forward to this vacation and enjoying the opportunity to operate my radio abroad earning new DX Activator entities.

May 30, 2024 Mar 20, 2024
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