[amsat-bb] Norwegian Pearl Photos and SAT OPs

Lee Ernstrom lee.ernstrom at rcwilley.com
Sat May 7 13:11:32 UTC 2016

Hi Bob,

I thought your call looked familiar.  We had two QSOs on Sept 21, 2015, one on FO-29 and one on SO-50.

Everyone told me that SAT operations were not allowed on cruise ships, but I heard from someone that they secured a reciprocal ham license from the country of the ship registry and had to jump through some other hoops, etc.  So a year ago I applied for and received a Bahamas reciprocal license (C6AQD) in anticipation of operating from the Norwegian Jewel last August when we took an Alaskan cruise.  That cruise would take us through some mighty juice grids in CO land.

My BIG mistake was calling Norwegian and asking permission to operate.  I was told in no uncertain terms that ham radio operations from the cruise ship is prohibited (nothing written in their policy that forbids this), and that any radio equipment that would attempt to bring on board would be confiscated.  Well of course that news burst my bubble.  

A couple weeks before our Alaskan cruise commenced my son, who was going on the cruise with us and who lives in Lacy, Washington, told me that he was taking a set of Walkie talkies and asked if I had a set that I could take so that we could communicate with each other while we were aboard ship but in different locations.  I told him I would bring along mine.  I figured that if they got taken away from me no big deal.

As it turned out the walkie talkies did not get confiscated and my son and I used them all over the ship and none of the ships officers even raised an eyebrow!

That made me curious and I began wondering what the real policy was.  My daughter and son-in-law who lives in Laveen, Arizona surprised my wife and I with a certificate for an inside tour of the ship so we were able to see how the ship operates so smoothly.  The tour ends up with a tour of the bridge where we met captain, first officer, and other ship drivers.  When the tour was over and the people on the tour had all left I lingered behind long enough to corner the first officer, a real nice accommodating gentleman from Croatia.

I told him I was a ham radio operator and that I have at home Hand held radios and a hand held antenna and I was wondering if it would be permissible on my next cruise to bring those along with me and communicate with my ham friends around the country through orbiting ham radio satellites.  I was expecting the worst, but his answer to me blew me away!

He told me that the ship operates under international law and if what I would be doing would not violate international law then they would have no problem with this activity!

I immediately thought to myself, "Why did I ask permission from the companies bureaucrats!"

On this west coast cruise, therefore, I boldly went where no one said I could go, to the back of the ship where I assembled my Arrow Antenna in front of God and everyone else and worked SO-50!  It was funny, I heard some lady whisper to her friend, "He must be listening for whales."
I smiled at her and shook my head and replied, "The whales are down there."

All of my QSOs that I made except those from CN78 were from the back of the ship because from there I could work the complete pass, especially the overhead passes.

My wife and I will be taking an east coast cruise this fall and my radios and Arrow antenna will be along with us.

73, Doc, WA7HQD/C6AQD

Sent from my iPad

> On May 6, 2016, at 8:07 PM, "R.T.Liddy" <k8bl at ameritech.net> wrote:
> Lee, 
> I followed your exploits on the NCL Pearl with interest since
> my wife and I had just taken a cruise on that ship in March
> from Miami to PJ2/HK/HP/TI and back. I've never done any
> SAT work from the many cruises we've been on, but I've done
> plenty of  Grid Expeditions - see my QRZ.com page.
> Your QRZ page is very interesting and well-done. Excellent
> pix of your SAT operations.
> BTW, I've been friends with K8YSE for almost 40 years and he
> was my boss for a bit of that time when we were Engineers at
> the Phone Company. We meet for lunch every few months when
> he's not in AZ or FL - HIHI.
> Maybe we'll meet on the birds some day!
> 73,      Bob K8BL
> From: Lee Ernstrom <lee.ernstrom at rcwilley.com>
> To: "amsat-bb at amsat.org" <amsat-bb at amsat.org> 
> Sent: Friday, May 6, 2016 6:37 PM
> Subject: [amsat-bb] Norwegian Pearl Photos and SAT OPs
> If anyone is interested in seeing some photos of my satellite operation
> aboard the Norwegian Pearl please check out my QRZ.com page.  I just
> finished uploading three photos.
> 73, Doc
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