Cruise Day Approaches

Cruise embarkation day is fast approaching! So let us talk about the plan, assuming no issues are encountered with MSC Cruises.

The cruise itself

So we will be embarking aboard the MSC Seashore on April 7th and returning on the 14th. This will be our second MSC cruise since we began cruising back in 2018 and the first time I will be attempting to cruise with my radio equipment. At this point, I have made every effort to reach out to MSC and secure written approval to bring my radio onboard the ship. As I’ve said in my previous posts on this series, I am not looking to operate while at sea and instead looking to only operate POTA while we are at our ports of call along the route. I began reaching out via email back in January, progressing to phone call atempts in February, and finally received a single call from a MSC representative in early March that had no further follow-up. I have spoken with some YouTube content creators who have dealt with MSC while bringing their drone aboard to use while at port, which were favorable so I have every hope that the same will be the case for me.

I have copies of all documentation in the case holding my actual radio and another copy in my laptop bag that I will have with me. This documentation includes my FCC license (KQ4AFY), my Cayman Islands license (ZF2JE) from OfReg and my Bahamas license (KQ4AFY/C6A) from URCA along with a copy of the FCC Public Notice DA 16-1048 that is required under CEPT. This along with my US passport should be all I need to be legal to operate from the ship, Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.

Nassau, Bahamas

BS-0025: Nassau, Bahamas

Our itinerary has us scheduled to be into port in Nassau by 10:00 on Monday, April 8th. I am estimating about an hour to get off the ship and make it to BS-0025 and get ready to activate. I have already signed up with the Bahamas National Trust for an annual membership to support their efforts in maintaining the parks and it also provides free entry to all parks as well. If I had not purchased the membership the park does have a $12 fee to enter according to the website. The membership is good for a year and good at all Bahamas parks so I am looking at it as I did purchasing my Florida State Parks annual family pass. We are scheduled to depart by 18:00 so I will look to be completed and back to the terminal by around 17:00.

Initially I had thought about trying to also activate BS-0023 and BS-0022, but I have found out recently that BS-0023 is currently closed and I am unsure about transportation necessary to reach BS-0022 and return in time. None of these parks have been activated yet so I was looking forward to the first activator.

George Town, Cayman Islands

KY-0010: George Town, Cayman Islands

We are scheduled to arrive in George Town by 08:00 on Thursday, April 11th. George Town is a tender port, which means that we will not dock at the port terminal and have to take a smaller boat to the terminal. Again, I am expecting at least an hour to get ashore as past experience has proven that tender passage can be organized chaos. Luckily for me KY-0010 is within a short walking distance from the port terminal. We have a scheduled departure of 16:00, so I will give myself at least an hour to get back to the terminal and catch a tender back aboard the ship.

I have been in touch with ZF1PB who is involved with CARS, so I will be trying to make contact with him while I’m ashore. He has informed me of the local repeater so I will try to reach out using my HT when I get within range. Perhaps if he has transportation I will be able to get to a few of the other nearby parks like KY-0003, KY-0009 or KY-0004 which are not too far from port. Maybe even KY-0001 which is not far from the CARS club ham shack, which I have heard has a pretty extensive antenna array.

The Band Plan

I have listed preliminary activation schedules on the POTA website already. Given the time of day I will be on the island I believe it will be highly unlikely that I will do any work on 40-80m. So I am planning to target 10-20m depending on propagation on the bands when I arrive and get set up to operate. I will begin with working digital over FT8 or FT4 in an attempt to secure the QSOs necessary for a successful activation as quickly as possible. If I have time I will attempt to switch my setup to SSB and find a frequency free to work.

While my cell phone has data service on the islands, I am uncertain if I will have it while at the parks themselves. To account for this and be able to spot myself I have gotten everything configured to use SOTAmat which I can send out over FT8 and let the skimmers spot me.

I will attempt to check my Winlink mailbox while I’m at the parks and if I have cell phone data service I will have my Hamshack Hotline extension and my OpenSpot 4 PRO hotspot connected to the D-STAR reflector.

I am also beta testing PoLo as a portable logbook using my mobile phone. While operating SSB I may simply utilize this to log rather than reconfigure my laptop from WSJT-X handling rig control to Amateur Contact Log handling it on the fly. I will then just simply export the ADIF log from PoLo and import it into AC Log before I upload my logs to POTA, LoTW and QRZ. I have already registered my callsigns with all three and have my LoTW callsign certificates issued.


If everything goes as planned, upon my return home I will get all my logs finalized and uploaded. I will be trying to get some good photos of my activation set up at each park so that I can put together a custom digital QSL card that I will then send out to all my QSOs if they have an email address available on QRZ. I will also put together a final post on this series with my takeaways and advice based on how it all worked, or didn’t. I hope to have this only be the first cruise trip I am able to take with my radio. While the XYL doesn’t want it to be all future cruises, I do hope to be able to take it along and get the chance to activate parks that I will only be able to operate within while traveling.

73, and I’ll catch you down in the log!

May 30, 2024 Apr 2, 2024
comments powered by Disqus