Taking a cruise vacation can be a fun, exciting, and a truly memorable experience, but to get the most out of this type of vacation requires some planning. The following are five smartphone and tablet apps (available for iOS and Android) that’ll help you plan and experience the most exciting vacation possible, and potentially save money in the process.
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This cruise planning tool allows you to keep track of your cruise plans, virtually explore cruise ships and deck plans, discover what to do at various ports of call, and share your cruise experiences with others. For frequent cruisers, the app keeps track of your past trips, and offers a countdown calendar for the future cruises you’ve booked.
In addition to booking independent shore excursions at each port (that are not affiliated with the cruise line), the app shows you the best shopping spots at each port, allows you to view live deck cams from participating ships, seek out advice from other frequent cruisers, research cruise pricing (using independent tools that’ll help you find the best deals), and track the current location(s) of your favorite ships.
Keep in mind, while you can save money – sometimes a lot of money – booking your own independently operated shore excursions, when you book directly through your cruise line the biggest advantages are that the excursion/tour operators are vetted by the cruise line, and that if there’s an unexpected delay during your excursions and you miss the all-aboard time, the cruise ship will not depart without you. This is not the case if you book your excursions or tours independently.
For more information about this app, visit https://shipmateapp.com.
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TripIt and TripIt Pro
Embarking on a cruise vacation often involves air travel to and from the ship, a hotel stay the night before embarkation, and other travel-related planning that allows you to get to the ship and then home after the cruise. One app that allows you to manage all aspects of your travel is TripIt (free) and TripIt Pro ($49 per year).
Beyond being able to keep track of your entire travel itinerary using one app, TripIt and TripIt Pro continuously monitors your flights, for example, and automatically and immediately alerts you of flight cancellations, delays, and gate changes. You’ll also receive reminders about when you can check in or out of hotels, be able to access and manage all confirmation numbers in one place, access real-time airport security line wait times, and have the ability to share your entire itinerary (or just parts of it) with other people via text message or email.
For more information about this app, visit: www.tripit.com/web/download.
This independent service allows you to research and book tours, shore excursions, and attraction tickets in almost every popular tourist destination around the world. Simply enter the location and date(s) you’ll be visiting a location, read tour and activity descriptions, and then book online. Many tours guarantee you’ll be back before your ship’s “all aboard” time, so look for this assurance before booking an independent tour at a port of call.
The folks at Viator have carefully curated its massive and every-expanding list of activity offerings, and typically offers discounts, even on same-day or last-minute bookings. For more information about this app, visit: www.viator.com.
The Proprietary App for Your Cruise Line
Virtually all of the major cruise lines now offer a proprietary smartphone app that’s designed to be used on the ship, during your cruise, even if you do not purchase an Internet package. In addition to offering detailed and often interactive maps of the vessel you’ll be cruising on, these apps offer many additional features to help ensure you never miss an onboard or shore-based activity.
Use the app to plan your days by viewing a daily listing of onboard activities, plus make dining, theater/entertainment, or shore excursion reservations, as applicable. Some cruise line apps also allow you to send and receive text messages with other passengers, view and purchase photos taken of you and your travel companions while on board, plus keep track of your account summary (in real time) as the cruise progresses. You can easily see how much you’ve spent on shipboard incidentals (drinks, spa appointments, shore excursions, photos, etc.), so you can stay within your budget.
Keep in mind, when using the official app from your cruise line while aboard the ship, a paid Internet package is not required, so you can use the app for free. In some cases, if you want to use the onboard messaging function, to communicate with other passengers via text message using the app, a small fee will apply.
You’re going to experience a lot during your cruise, and you won’t want to forget a moment of the high seas adventure. To help document your vacation, reminisce later, and share memories with others, the Journi Blog app is the perfect, easy-to-use tool for maintaining a trip diary that includes text and photos. Because you mobile device keeps track of the time, date, and your location, as you create entries, all pertinent details are recorded on your behalf. The app will also automatically record the weather within your diary during each day of the trip.
Based on the locations you visit, at the end of your trip, the Journi Blog app creates a detailed map that shows were you’ve been and includes this information within automatically formatted photo books that the app can create for you. A separate fee applies if you want a printed version of the photo book created for each of your vacations. The digital version of your travel diary can be kept private, synced between all of your own computers and mobile devices, and/or shared with others via social media.
Even if you don’t like to write and keep track of details, you can simply import vacation photos taken on your smartphone or tablet into this app, add some optional text-based captions, and easily create a one-of-a-kind vacation memento. By the end of your cruise, between the meals, ports-of-call, attractions, activities, shows, and other experiences you have, you’ll be happy to have an easy-to-use app that’ll help you document and remember every detail.
The core features of this app are free. However, to unlock all of its features, you’ll need to pay a monthly subscription fee ($4.99), although discounts are offered if you pre-purchase a six month or one year subscription. For more information about the Journi Blog app, visit: www.journiapp.com.