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My experience taking Phantom on a cruise - June 2016 (long)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Flys-Lo, Jun 27, 2016.

  1. Flys-Lo

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    I thought I'd share my experience taking my Phantom 3 Pro on a Royal Caribbean cruise this past week (June 2016) in case anyone is wondering what to expect. YMMV. First I'll say that when booking the cruise in Jan-2016 I inquired about the possibility of bringing it along. I was told that it was acceptable but there might be certain destinations/countries that would not allow me to fly. Therefore, come mid-June I packed up the P3P in my hard-case backpack and flew from Tampa to Puerto Rico with it as my carryon. No issues, not even an "open and inspect" from TSA.

    Puerto Rico: Prior to cruise - We stayed for a few days in San Juan and found a spot out on Isla Verde beach that was outside the no-fly zone. I got some great shots of the area and the DJI app let me know when I was approaching the no-fly zone with an alert and the Phantom hovered in place allowing me full control except for the direction leading me into the zone. I simply turned around and flew away from it.

    Cruise Day 1: Breezed through terminal security (P3P on X-ray belt) as well as registration and Royal Caribbean security checkpoint pre-board (another X-ray belt). Walked on board with the Phantom in the backpack no questions asked, literally sailed right through without even being asked to open the case. Got to my cabin and set up my MacBook, charge cords, etc. and placed the P3P on a shelf.

    Cruise Day 2: St. Maarten. Walked off the ship and took a water taxi over to the beach. Paid for some beach chairs, umbrella's, drinks, wi-fi and bouncy stuff for the kids out in the water. A few hours later took the P3P up and got some great shots of the beach, speeding jet skis, boats, the cruise ship and my kids doing flips on the bouncy things from 20' above. Couple of locals very intrigued by watching the screen over my shoulder and offered me some "adult recreation". I declined.
    Time to head back to the ship and this is where things got interesting. As we all boarded the ship I laid my case on the X-ray belt and walked through the metal detector. The guy sitting at the x-ray screen stopped the line and asked me to open the case. As soon as the top was open he waved his arms while shouting "DRONE- DRONE-DRONE" while getting the attention of other security in the immediate area. Other passengers froze in place as the security grabbed the "drone" and escorted me behind the wall. The head of security and two others conversed at a whisper and finally turned to me and stated that they were confiscating my "drone". Keeping calm (a family trait) I asked a few questions and understood them to say that I could pick up my "drone" at each port as I exit the ship but when I return they will again take it and lock it up. I was fine with that and I removed my batteries, remote and SD cards and took them with me without issue. They gave me a card that I would need to show them when I exited and they'd fetch my case. Obviously they do this to eliminate any threat of someone trying to fly while the ship is at sea. If you want to lose a Phantom this would be a perfectly easy and quick way to do it. The winds on deck were easily 30+mph at all times and being a guy who shoots pics and video of everything I wasn't even tempted to try it when I could have.

    Cruise Day 3: St. Kitts. I gathered up my charged batteries, controller and SD cards and headed downstairs to leave the ship. I handed my card to the head security agent who handed it right back saying "We asked the authorities if you could take your drone onto the island and they forbid it." Somewhat baffled there really wasn't anything I could do. I returned all my gear to the room and left the boat without the P3P. We had a great day regardless but I did manage to ask a couple of locals about "drones" and they said that they see them often and no one hassles them. Missed some absolutely beautiful scenery and recorded the day at sea level only.

    Cruise Day 4: Antigua. Again I gathered up my gear and headed downstairs to exit the boat. Again I was turned away with the same excuse. I wondered if this was their way of excluding us from using these entirely so I inquired for more detail. She was happy to discuss. She answered by saying that each time they pull into a port they are met by the local authorities and they have a discussion about many things. One thing they ask is if their passenger(s) could fly a "drone" in the country. They sometimes get a "yes" and sometimes a "no" she said. I pushed a little more and asked her if she actually uses the term "drone" when speaking to these "authorities" and she said that she did call it a drone. I did my best to explain to her that it's not a "drone" and that she might be scaring them by giving them the impression that it's a military device. I tried to explain it to her as simply a "flying camera" and not a weapon. She understood and said she would change her verbiage. Another day missing some absolutely mind-blowing shots. Had a great day regardless.

    Cruise Day 5: St. Lucia. I fully expected to be turned away again this day but upon considering our activities throughout the day and where we were going (an active volcano caldera) I decided against giving it a try. I knew for sure that flying over or near the volcano was forbidden and the rest of the trip wouldn't afford me enough time to fly and get back to the bus (many 10 min photo stops). I didn't even try to collect the P3P when exiting the ship.
    Ironically when I returned to the ship at the end of the day I was stopped by my new friend - the head of security for the ship - who told me that she had received permission for me to take my "flying camera" into St. Lucia. She looked for me but didn't see me, checked the computer and had seen that I had already exited. She was apologetic that she missed me. I had regrets but stood by my decision and let it go.

    Cruise Day 6: Barbados. Instead of lugging all my gear back down and risking being turned away I decided to call guest services from the room. I was told that I had permission from Barbados authorities to fly on the island. We had a great day and I captured some beautiful shots. I had one battery left near the end of the day and while my daughter was getting her hair braided in the little shops at the pier I decided I'd take up the P3P real quick for some shots of the harbor and cruise ship. No sooner did I have the bird in the air I was surrounded by locals and one in a uniform frantically yelling to me that I was breaking the law and he could arrest me. Without looking away from my screen I countered with "I have full permission to fly here". He replied "You do?" to which I answered "Yes, the ship cleared me with the local authorities". He stopped immediately and said "Well if you say so... Hey, can I watch? How much does it cost?" It quickly turned into a big attraction for all the locals who took turns watching the screen as I circled the cruise ship from 50' or so above the deck. It seems that they've all wondered for years what was up there on the ship. I had to ask the crowd to stand back so I could land. It seemed like a hit and some agreed that if their country allowed these types of videos of their island it would only serve as free advertising and bring them even more tourists (their main industry at each of the above countries).

    Cruise Day 7 & 8: At sea. No opportunities. When we arrived back in Puerto Rico I wasn't given back my P3P until I was officially off the boat and signed out. Overall it wasn't a bad experience other than being detained from time to time when my cruise card was scanned (my card always sounded a strange alarm and the screen flashed with warnings about "confiscated property" and "drone". A quick check with the head of security got me cleared and through the checkpoint with minimal delays. I'm sure that as the months and years roll on they'll streamline their processes and policies concerning these. The Royal Caribbean website now reads that "drones" are forbidden on their cruise ships but again, I asked when booking and was told it was okay. Hopefully they make it easier to bring them along.

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  2. LuvMyTJ

    LuvMyTJ ADMINISTRATOR
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    It is a pleasure to welcome you to the Phantom Pilots forum Flys-Lo. I hope that you will take advantage of the benefits that come with membership and that you will be able to use the forum for the exchange of innovative ideas and as a resource for current developments in Phantom quadcopter’s.

    Interesting story and great info. Thanks for sharing. ;)
     
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  3. The Springs

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    Very interesting .We did a cruise on a German ship down the west coast of Italy over a year ago I didn't have a Phantom then but often think about how I would have faired .I think they are even more anti "drone"than what you experienced .
    I can't help thinking it is a form of free advertising for these places giving a unique perspective not seen by most tourists as long a safety is not an issue and the sun isn't abscured by swarms of Phantoms though.
     
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  4. L.Chaney

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    Good story. Glad it came out ok.
    There is no way in hell you'd find me on a cruise. No way, no how.


    Sent from my iPhone using PhantomPilots mobile app
     
  5. Raceman17

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    I've taken my drone on both a western Caribbean Cruise and a alaska cruise all through carnival. I have never had any issues. The only time security say something to me is when I come back on the ship from being off for the day. They remind me that I cannot fly the drone from the ship. I agree with them and tell them thanks. I'm headed to Puerto Rico in September. I plan in taking it there too.
     
  6. Flys-Lo

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    Yeah - I hear ya. Maybe you've tried one and it's not for you which I completely understand. We thought the same way for years then were given one as a gift. My wife and I along with our four school age kids gave it a try. We compare it to one of those appetizer sampler plates you get at certain restaurants. We get to try out little pieces of each country and if we find one that we like we set aside a couple of weeks and plan a more in-depth visit there. There are just enough activities on the ship to keep each kid entertained. We are a big outdoors sports family and the full basketball court, rock climbing wall, wave-rider pool or ice skating rink is where you'll find us between ports. I hear that there are bars, hot tubs, casino's and other people on board but we haven't confirmed that. Haha.
     
  7. Flys-Lo

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    That's good to know. Never been on Carnival, just Princess and RC. If your experiences were prior to 2016 I'd bet that there are more stringent rules in place nowadays. Maybe not.

    As far a Puerto Rico, check the no-fly zones. San Jaun beaches are basically next door to the airport and the historic forts and sights are all National Parks and off limits. I saw the park rangers and Policia stopping two guys holding controllers. Of course thats only 1% of Puerto Rico but if you're staying in San Juan your flight options are limited.
     
  8. jonebk12

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    Very interesting story. Thanks for sharing. Taking off from the deck of a moving cruise ship would indeed be a quick way to lose your drone. Even if you could get it airborne without smacking into someone or something on deck (the drone is going to fly backwards), those ships cruise at 25+ mph I think. Any significant headwind and you won't be able to catch back up.
     
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  9. Klnyc

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    what a great story! **** u missed 3 days of good footage. next time!
     
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  10. Raceman17

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    Thanks for the heads up.
     
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  11. timmer

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    Me either, thanks to being on an aircraft carrier with 5000 other people!
     
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