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Making calls/sending text from Virgin Mobile whilst at sea

My brother is on a cruise and whilst he can send and receive email, he says he is unable to make calls or send text msgs whilst at sea.

He asked me to ask this question- 

My question about Virgin is, I have mobile data enabled, both on the phone, and in my online account, but can't send or receive calls or texts, unless I'm ashore. I have data roaming switched off, as it'll try to update all sorts of software using the phone signal, and costing £5 per MB!! The QM2 has a satellite mast, that allows calls to be made, (I see folks making calls while at sea ), but mine won't work? Any ideas appreciated. 
Many thanks
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