Additional information on two opportunities raised by Roger Howell.
Sim Cards & Locked Phones. A sim card is a small interchangable circuit board about the size of your thumb nail. It has your account information on it and may also store your contacts, etc. When your US company sells you that fancy new phone for pennies on the dollar, they "lock" it so that it only works with the sim card for your account. That way, you can't take your new phone to a different company. Phones can be unlocked by entering a code using the keypad. If your phone is locked, you will need an unlock code from your provider. My experience is that they will give it out for a good reason, such as foreign travel.
Once a phone is unlocked, you can find pre paid sim cards for local phone companies in almost every corner of the world. Just pop in the sim and start calling. The local calls are cheap and the long distance rates are usually lower than your roaming rates. Finally, you are not charged a roaming rate for inbound calls. Unlike your AT&T sim overseas, the inbound calls are usually free. You can top up the pre paid sims at many stores ar by calling in with a credit card number.
We do this all the time.
Skype (Skype.com) is a free download that allows you to "call" other Skype users who are logged into their computers for free. You can pre pay for service to any telephone in 10 Euro (about $15) packets. International calls to/from Canada or the US cost pennies per minute, compared to a dollar or more depending on your cell phone calling plan.
When you have a strong Wi-Fi signal without a bandwidth hog downloading the latest season of Hell's Kitchen on the next boat, you will have a very good connection that you can use for endless calls back to your family. If your son/daughter downloads Skype, you can talk, or, even picture phone, for free. Skype, itself, uses very little bandwidth.
My experience is that with a good connection in a marina, I have not had a problem with bandwidth. I frequently have problems in hotels with free internet as they do not have enough bandwidth, or controlling software, for many users at once.
Skype conversations are dramatically better if you use an inexpensive headset with your computer. You can Skype from an iPhone if there is Wi-Fi - neat!