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Audio Headsets on Tour

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Home >> Audio Headsets on Tour

Most cruise operators use audio headsets today. The biggest advantage they offer is, they amplify the voice of your guide (despite noisy surroundings). Maybe even more important this technology allows you to wander off during the tour, take a few more pictures, and you won't miss any information. From a guides perspective the biggest advantage is the possibility to talk while you walk. And it is easier to call your group to assemble even if they are a bit away.

A handful of companies provide this technology, so here is a list of all major river cruise lines and their equipment, below are a few more technological details.

Cruise Line Audio headset system Connector Channel Control
AMA Waterways Quietvox proprietary automatic
APTouring Quietvox proprietary automatic
Avalon Waterways Quietvox proprietary automatic
Gate 1 Whisper 3.5 mm manual
Grand Circle Travel Whisper 3.5 mm manual
Scenic Okayo / Voxtours
Update 2014: Scenic now uses its own "Taylormade" Devices including maps & GPS
3.5 mm manual
Tauck Voxtours 3.5 mm manual
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises Quietvox proprietary automatic
Vantage Travel Quietvox 3.5 mm manual
Viking River Cruises Quietvox proprietary automatic
Voxtours 3.5 mm manual

Range: Is not listed in the table. All devices have a range of about 100 - 500ft / 30 - 150m. The range depends on the number of other groups around and is of course much less in rooms (most devices can't get through walls).

Channel control: Quietvox devices will set the transmitter to any channel (eg: 0.14.52) and all recievers close to it connect to the same frequency. They do that via RFID, so if your guide switches of his transmitter, you'll connect to the transmitter closest to you. It usually works, but if not, there is nothing else you can do except to turn it off and on again. While all manual channel control devices will allow you to pick any other frequency. So theoretical you could switch from you guide to the other next to you. But I have not told you this. ;) What is more important, you should keep a pen or another pointy thin object with you to set the channel for the next tour.

Quietvox Earpiece

Hearing aids: Now the most interesting question is, how do they interact with hearing aids. They all work. If you're cruise line uses any 3.5 mm connector you can even bring your own headphones with you. Quietvox provides disposable earpieces. They are designed for your left ear (though I have seen some guests wearing them on the right), and due to its design do not block most hearing aids. See the picture above.

Another tip for Quietvox: The earpieces hook is a bit edgy, a solution would be to wrap it in with band aid or a sticking plaster.

And a good laugh at the end. Quietvox provides a youtube video, where they explain their audio guide system for cruise ships:

.... Yes, without sound :)