I have a pair of 900mhz motorola GTX walkie talkies that run 4 watts of analog fm and they easily put those 1 watt digital radios to shame and they were 80 dollars for the pair on ebay
And yes, without exception, conventional analog radios will ALWAYS out distance digital
You're aware that your 900MHz Moto GTX portables are not legal to use on the 902-928MHz band without a ham license, right?
You're aware that your 900MHz Moto GTX portables are not legal to use on 900MHz commercial systems in the 935-941MHz range unless you're the licensee or an authorized user of such systems under someone else's license, right?
I am familliar with other radios on 900MHz besides the Motorola DTRs and DLRs. As a licensed ham, I own a Motorola MTX9250 handheld that I use for amateur radio on the 902-928MHz band. It works great and I've used several of the 900MHz regional coverage ham repeaters in my area. The MTX9250 is used for a very different purpose than the DTRs. And it's not all about distance alone.
One thing that helps the 900MHz DTRs aboard a cruise ship are the reflections and multipath effects while operating deep inside the ship. The reflections and multipath effects combined with FHSS operation can actually help with coverage. With a DTR radio in a given location, a hot spot for reception for example at say 902MHz may be a dead spot at 927MHz. For any given location of the radio, the hot spots and dead spots essentially hop around as the frequencies hop due to the FHSS. An occasional individual hop may be in a dead spot and a small amount of data may be lost but with digital you have the benefit of forward error correction (FEC) to help out. Dead spots will effectively be much less of an issue as the radio is moved around. You don't have these benefits with an analog radio operating on a single frequency.
Your higher powered analog radios on 900MHz require licensing which the DTRs don't. They are easily monitored and easily jammed, of which the DTRs are much more immune to both. Your analog radios suffer from all of the limitations of plain old analog radios. While not encrypted, the DTRs can be made very secure through private 1 to 1 and private group calling. Short of the government and/or using proprietary Motorola DTR test equipment, the DTRs are practically un-monitorable. There is no scanner available that can monitor them and it's unlikely that there ever will be in the future. The DTRs are also very immune to jamming due to the FHSS operation. With FHSS they can coexist with other transmitters operating simultaneously in the 902-928MHz band including other DTRs and DLRs operating in the same local area.
While your 900MHz handhelds have a little more Tx power, they have inherent limitations which the DTRs overcome with them being digital (VSELP) and using FHSS.