Cruise Travel Apps Free To Use At Sea

travel appsWhen we review travel apps that actually do something, they often tap crowd-sourced information that is as rich (or not) as the number of users who have contributed their opinions or reviews. GPS-based travel apps take existing technology and manipulate it in one way or another to bring every thing from finding a friend on the road to creating a virtual journal of our travels, step by step. In the world of cruise travel, the number of apps available is limited compared to other modes of transportation but they are often highly specific, producing information not available elsewhere.

travel appsNorwegian Cruise Lines has a newly updated travel app that can be a helpful planning tool in advance of sailing with information about destinations, ships and special offers. Once on board Norwegian’s newest ships, even more helpful features are available.

The free download for iPhone, Android and Windows 7 features photo galleries and videos; ship information including deck plans and on-board amenities; stateroom descriptions, images and floor plans; 360-degree virtual ship tours and more.

On board Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Breakaway, passengers can log on, select an Internet package to buy then text and call others on the ship who are also connected, using time from their pre-paid plan. Free services include the ability to see previews of and book shore excursions, restaurants and other on-board products like spa services and shopping. Users can view their shipboard charge account as well as a list of daily activities at any time, also without using purchased Internet minutes.travel appsSailing some other cruise line? Cruise Ship Mate ($1.99), can be even more helpful in the planning stages of cruise travel as it has the ability to see all itineraries of all major cruise lines. Included among features that do not need an Internet connection to use are deck plans, cruise ship information and a packing list. Connected, users get cruise ship deck cam links and a chat feature that enables passengers on a specific ship and sailing date to communicate in advance of and during sailing.

A unique feature on the Cruise Ship Mate app is a Cruise Ship Tracker. This one allows users to see the exact location of any ship at any time, using technology similar to that of CruiseCal, the long running subscriber-based website that pinpoints where ships are and which ships will be in port at the same time you are.

But maybe you are not really into apps but have some favorite travel websites that you would like to access quickly on your Apple iPhone or iPad?

iPhone 5 users can create quick links to their most-visited websites using the “add to home screen” option, like I did for the Gadling site. On your favorite site, in Safari, just tap the “Share” button at the bottom of the screen, tap the icon labeled “Add to Home Screen,” tap the “Add” button then launch the website from your Home screen by tapping its icon.

Looking for other helpful travel apps? Check this video for apps that tell us everything from what is going on at any given destination to where restrooms are located.


[Image credit - Chris Owen]

Travel Gifts For The Last Minute Shopper That Won’t Break The Bank

travel giftsWith one of the biggest travel gift-giving holidays of the year coming up, not everyone is done shopping. To many gifters, last-minute mode is panic time and tactical shopping strategies kick in. Rather than simply buying a host of generic gift cards (akin to throwing money at the problem), get creative with gifts that show some thought.

A slap in the face saying, “Yes, I do care!” can be had by simply paying attention to your travelers’ air schedule. If a two-hour layover will give them time for lunch, check the airport list of concessions to see some place you might buy a gift card for.

Better yet, if you know that your traveler sneaks off to gate A13 at the Dallas/Ft Airport (DFW) for Popeye’s Chicken, something they would never admit to, get one of Popeye’s gift cards. (They also happen to have a “buy $20 card for $10” promo going on).

Internet time for many travelers is one of those sure-fire, absolutely-they-will-use-it gifts. In the air, GoGo Holiday JetPacks offers all-day access redeemable on any Gogo equipped flights between Dec. 22, 2012, and Jan. 3, 2013.

Discounted about 50%, a two-pack is just $14.50. Your frequent flyer might enjoy a 30-day unlimited access package for $49.50.

Europe Scratch Map is a way to keep track of where you have been or would like to go in Europe. This is a great one to give travelers who, when not on the road, have an office someplace where they could display it (like “Gawd I hate this job but look where I got to go because of the income it provides”).

Gently rub a coin against the places you have visited to reveal a burst of vibrant blue beneath. A great way to commemorate trips taken, or to dream of journeys yet to come ($24).

Crumpled City Maps
make folding a paper map a thing of the past, if Google and smart phones did not do that already. Travelers with Crumpled City Maps crunch them up into a ball and stuff it in their pocket.

Printed on some sort of durable, wonder-material, these maps are available for New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Barcelona and Tokyo ($20).




[Photo Credit- Chris Owen]

Safety And Security When Traveling Takes More Than Common Sense Precautions

safety and security

Safety and security tips for travelers often include common sense advice like not carrying a lot of cash, protecting valuable documents and not wearing expensive jewelry in public. But while taking precautions is good, knowing what scams or traps are set and waiting for travelers in countries around the world is better.

“While the language barrier and the cultural sites are exciting, they also open up travelers to scam artists and petty thieves,” says an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which brings up some good points.

Record serial numbers on electronics, keep valuables in your hotel safe and watch for “long hauling” where taxi drivers take a longer route to bump up the fare. These measures can be taken to ensure a visit to an unfamiliar turf goes well.

record the serial numbers of any vital electronics that could be stolen, as some cities require a serial number to file a police report.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/life/travel/top-5-worst-travel-scams-and-how-to-avoid-them-663534/#ixzz2DDqhoOGp

record the serial numbers of any vital electronics that could be stolen, as some cities require a serial number to file a police report.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/life/travel/top-5-worst-travel-scams-and-how-to-avoid-them-663534/#ixzz2DDqhoOGp

We saw this first hand in Rouen, France, not long ago, visiting the Notre-Dame Cathedral off a sailing of Azamara Club Cruises Azamara Journey. Our local guide was quick to point out that we should ignore anyone standing by the front door collection admission. Entry is free but unsuspecting tourists commonly pay scam artists a fee, believing they cannot enter without doing so.But Americans do not need to travel far to find situations that threaten safety and security.

The U.S. Department of State’s Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management offers tips for international travel as close as the Bahamas, a destination frequented by U.S. travelers on a weekend getaway. Also a popular cruise port, on the topic of safety and security, the Department of State warns travelers about commonly used services.

“The water sports and scooter rental industries in The Bahamas are not carefully regulated,” says the Department of State. “Every year people are killed or injured due to improper, careless, or reckless operation of scooters, jet-skis, and personal watercraft or scuba/snorkeling equipment.”

Digging deeper, the Department of State offers information about common crime scams and reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as in casinos, outside hotels, or on cruise ships.

“Three separate groups of tourists were held at gunpoint and robbed at popular tourist sites in and near Nassau; each of these incidents occurred during daylight hours and involved groups of more than eight persons,” says the Department of State, adding “several other groups of tourists allegedly were victims of armed robbery at more remote locations.”

Here at home, traveling no farther than the local mall for holiday shopping can put us in situations where pick pockets, scam artists and others are out to take advantage of distracted shoppers.

Regardless of where we are, a nice day of sightseeing or shopping can turn very bad, very fast as we see in this video:




[Photo credit: Chris Owen]

Travel Brochure Finds: The Best Key Lime Pie And More From Florida

Travel Brochures

Travel brochures found at any given destination compete for our attention. Local tour operators want us to choose them over others. Convention and visitors bureaus work to highlight all their city has to offer. Florida, the land of theme parks, beaches and year-round sun is no exception.

Racks of colorful point-of-travel brochures can be found in airports, at hotels, highway rest stops and just about any other place that travelers are likely to gather. On a road trip from Orlando to Miami, we stopped at turnpike rest areas along the way and picked up some of the travel brochures that crowds of visitors seemed most interested in.

travel brochuresKissimmee, Florida is home to must-see theme parks Walt Disney World Resort, Seaworld and Universal Studio’s Orlando Resort. From world-class resorts to RV campgrounds, Kissimmee offers a variety of choices for any age or interest.

Special events held throughout the year range from June’s Silver Spurs Rodeo to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights coming up November 3 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, running through January 3.

travel brochuresKey West, Florida calls itself America’s Island Paradise for a number of reasons. Walking tours are a good way to see some of the island’s best attractions but trolley tours are also popular.

The Key West City Cemetery offers a quiet tour of Key West’s past, featuring a memorial to American sailors who died in the explosion of the USS Maine in 1898 along with legendary headstones that read, “I told you I was sick,” and, “At least I know where he’s sleeping tonight.”

A visit to Key West Audubon House and Gardens, Key West Harbour and the Florida Eco-Discovery Center make for a nice day and don’t forget a piece of Key Lime Pie, served at a variety of locations. Download a Key West vacation planner here.

travel brochuresButterfly World in Coconut Creek, Florida, is one of a number of attractions that host aviaries filled with butterflies and free-flying birds. This one lets visitors enter their man-made tropical rain forest, a living habitat with a mist-filled cave and a cascading waterfall.

Butterfly World features six aviaries, live butterflies, Hummingbirds, an Insectarium, a Butterfly museum and more. Open seven days a week, Butterfly World is the largest butterfly and bird park in the world.

travel brochuresMiami Seaquarium is a 38-acre tropical paradise that is home to Lolita The Killer Whale, Salty the Sea Lion and everything else one might expect from an aquarium located minutes from the ocean.

At Dolphin Harbor, visitors can connect with one of the ocean’s most intelligent creatures doing a deep-water swim that has no swimming or height restrictions.

In addition to sea life from sea turtles and manatees to sharks and stingrays, unique to Miami Seaquarium are a number of animal and tourism experts on hand to share information and answer questions.

Here’s more about Florida, featuring Florida swamps, working cattle ranches, beautiful lakes and streams, and incredible wildlife.



[Photo Credit: Chris Owen]

Four Dublin Attractions Not To Be Missed

Dublin

One of Europe’s oldest and greatest cities, Dublin not only retains its historic and cultural identity, but hosts a variety of current, relevant attractions. With a wide variety of friendly bars, stylish shops, elegant restaurants and sidewalk cafes, deciding what to do in Dublin can be tough. But on a recent visit, we stopped by several must-see attractions that give a real feel for the city, its people and its rich heritage.

The Guinness Storehouse is home to arguably the most famous beer in the world. On a 90-minute walking tour, visitors go through the history behind the brand as well as the production process from beginning to end.

Old Jameson Distillery is a good alternate for those who prefer whiskey to beer. Here, visitors learn what makes Irish the best whiskey in the world and get a chance to sample the Uisce beatha – the water of life.St Patrick’s Cathedral was founded in 1191 and has contributed much to Irish life since then. The first performance of Handel’s Messiah and its choir are claims to fame as is the fact that Jonathan Swift, the Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist and political pamphleteer, was Dean here in the 18th century.

The Church Bar and Restaurant is the beautifully restored former St Mary’s church and one of Dublin’s most popular drinking and dining places. Hosting beautiful stained glass windows, an organ once played by Handel and a basement burial crypt, the Church bar, gallery restaurant and nightclub is a top Dublin attraction.

A great way to see Dublin and all it has to offer is via the Hop On Hop Off city tour bus that has 24 stops along its route. The entire tour takes about an hour and a half, runs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and can be joined from any of the stops along the way.

But just walking down the street, pretty much any street in Dublin make for some great travel memories in a city bursting with color, music, events, sights and scenes.

Visit the Shopping Areas in Dublin, Ireland



[Photos- Chris Owen]