I know what you mean by wanting to stay in touch. As a business owner, I need to check in occasionally to solve problems.
If you've had your phone for a while, you may want to check into upgrading to a new multi-frequency phone that uses a Sim card (there are 4 frequencies used in most of the world). We just bought one through Cingular and it worked on my last cruise in Cozumel, Mexico last week (our only foreign port of call). The cost was about $130 with a new 2 year contract. Be prepared to spend $1.50 - $3.50 a minute for international calls.
Another great c$hoice I used last year is a company called Mobal GSM (www.mobalrental.com
). You can buy a phone for $50.00 that will work in most international areas or $100.00 for a phone that will work international & US (Puerto Rico, etc...). Depending on the country, these phones cost $1.50 - $3.50 a minute (still cheaper than a $80.00 3 minute phone call). These phones have an England phone number, so people calling you will have an international charge to their phone bill too. WE USED THIS PHONE LAST SUMMER ON OUR MEDITERRANEAN CRUISE AND WERE ABLE TO CALL FROM SPAIN, ITALY, GREECE & TURKEY. All of our friends on the cruise were borrowing the phone so they could call home, too.
I hear that there are only 2 ships are experimenting with cell service on board, so that's not a practical option. Ship to shore calls from the phone on the ship run abut $7.95 a minute. We used our international cell phone when we were in port.
One More Note: I see another person above had an $80.00 bill for a short cell phone call. Be sure to check the cell companies web site on the rates for these international calls and any plans you may need to sign up for before you leave so you don't have any suprises.
Hope that helps you.
Have a great time!!!!