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sakr 22-05-2011 22:17

MCP GSM maritime service on board of ships and ferries
In the past few years maritime GSM services have become available on boards of all the major ships and ferries all over the world. One of the biggest providers of those type of services is Norwegian Telenor - acting as MCP (Maritime Communications Partner) on this market. The usual solution provided by MCP is to built a distributed antenna system on a ship, attach a BTS and connect it using VSAT service with the world. Their GSM 1800MHz network (mostly on European waters) is switched on as soon as teritorrial waters are left behind. Passengers may roam on this network, use voice and data seriveces, paying quite high rates (for Polish operator Plus the roaming rate for 1 minute call is approximately 1,6Eur).
Moreover, MCP is providing their own pre-paid service: 'Crew calling card", which according to various information found on the internet can be purhased on board of a ship. They also have several roaming agreements with 'standard terrestrial networks.
Some details may be found here:
MCP - Maritime Communications Partner

I was wondering if anyone has any experience in that field? Is it possible to buy such a card by a non-crew member? What are the connection rates? Do they assign Norwegian phone number?

Looking forward to hearing from all the experienced travellers and sailors :)

DRNewcomb 31-05-2011 15:18

I would also be interested in the crew calling cards. I know that in my limited experience with cruise ships, I made certain to forward all incoming calls to voicemail and let my family know to send me a text if they needed to communicate. Having 24/7 SMS capability at sea is a great value. The voice roaming service can be a financial black hole.

andy 31-05-2011 21:00

It looks like it is described as only available to crew members. But as the account can be handled online, maybe only the initial purchase would be a hurdle. I can't find outgoing call rates, but the free incoming sounds ok until you notice the number is in a satellite range.

sakr 31-05-2011 21:30

They seem to assign phone numbers starting with +88232. A quick research on calling rates from other networks to MCP +88232 showed that it costs more than 5Eur/min.

adam917 02-06-2011 00:08

What might the roaming agreements be like & how much for SMS? ;-)

sakr 05-06-2011 21:19

I got a response from MCP Customer Care saying that the CrewSIM is only available to crew members. Andy's expectation that the initial purchase might be hard to do by a non-crew member seems to be right.
MCP roaming partners (networks on which CrewSIM may roam) are listed here:
GSM Coverage Maps | International Waters | Maritime Communications Partner AS(Maritime Communications Partner) | Coverage and Network Information

DRNewcomb 06-06-2011 23:28

They have a Facebook page. And even a video. With all the contacts in this group, you'd think someone would know someone who works on a cruise ship or ferry boat. My history is that in the 1980s we could make collect INMARSAT calls from the ship for about US$15/min. Around 2000 we became able to make INMARSAT-C calls for about US$1.50/min. By 2005 we had VoIP and could call home for almost nothing. The big breakthrough came in about '95 when we got a rudimentary shared e-mail account. That made all the difference in the world.

sakr 05-02-2012 00:05

Let me come back to my old thread.
If there is anyone who has some more detailed information regarding the MCP Crew SIM pricing, validity, initial purhase conditions and price - please feel free to update the information that we've already collected.
I would be interested in all the details and possibly even in buing this sim as this summer I'm planning a cruise on board of a vessel that has MCP network running.

sakr 20-07-2012 22:08

I've just come back from my trip and I'm happy to announce that I've managed to buy some MCP sim-cards for my collection. Sims were offerred at the reception desk of a ferry. I was informed that this sim will not work if a registration form won't be sent to the operator. It may take 1 or 2 days till the sim besomes active. Unfortunately one needs to be a crew member (this needs to be stated in the form) in order to ask for an activation. I haven't seen this form and I don't know the prices of calls and sms. The sim-pack costs 5Eur. I don't know if there is any credit included. Call credit is valid for 9 months. According to the attached leaflet the top-up vouchers are available on-board of a ship, however I haven't seen any.

Anyway - another nice and rather rare, but completely useless item in my collection :).

sakr 09-03-2013 17:03


Originally Posted by adam917 (Post 36844)
What might the roaming agreements be like & how much for SMS? ;-)

As I've found my old notes from the past cruise, summarizing the rates for outgoing SMS while roaming on MCP on-board network, here are the rates (converted to Euro as of todays exchange rates):

Plus Poland contract sim: 0.9
Orange Poland contract sim: 0.36
2degrees New Zealand pre-paid sim: 0.5
Vip Croatia pre-paid sim: 0.66
Swisscom Switzerland pre-paid sim: 0.73
O2 UK pre-paid sim: 0.56
Vodafone Romania pre-paid sim: 0.45

I haven't used any voice calls, but was told by the Customer Care that both Orange and Plus (PL) charge about 2Eur/min for outgoing call. The charge for incoming call was not fully clear, however I expect at least 1Eur/min.

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