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]

A Tale Of Two Cruise Ships Under Construction

cruise ships

Coming up this spring, Princess Cruises and Norwegian cruise lines – two of the most popular cruise lines with mainstream cruise travelers – have new cruise ships coming out. Considering that both are under construction right now and both offer sister ships being built for later delivery, choosing one might be difficult for cruise travelers. Before we get too far down the road, let’s take a look at the two new ships, what they have to offer and how construction is coming along.

cruise shipsNorwegian Cruise Line has a whole lot of New Yorkers talking about new Norwegian Breakaway, and for good reason. To be based in New York City year-round, the 4,000-passenger ship has been customized for the New York market with everything from shops, restaurants and bars to Sabrett New York hot dog carts positioned around the ship.

Partnering with the New York City Rockettes (Godmothers of the ship), pop artist Peter Max (custom city skyline hull design) and others, Norwegian is making every attempt to pierce the New York market; it even set up “warming stations” around the city this winter.

That’s all in addition to some over-the-top features on the ship set to blow away other new builds that has everyone talking about this new Norwegian ship that will be sailing to Florida, Bermuda and the Bahamas.

%Gallery-179356%An oceanfront boardwalk called the Waterfront on Norwegian Breakaway will combine dining and drinking venues with entertainment and gaming. 678 Ocean Place will be a hub of activity spanning three decks that features seven more dining venues, 12 bars and lounges coupled with shops and other entertainment options.

Continuing what looks to be a pre-sold success story with Norwegian Breakaway, sister ship Norwegian Getaway will debut in 2014, claiming Miami, Florida, as its hometown. Embedding a South Florida theme in the new ship, Norwegian tapped David Le Batard (AKA the artist known as “LEBO”) to create art for the new ship’s hull. Set to debut in February 2014, we’ll have more on that one later.

First, here’s a gallery of photos featuring first-up Norwegian Breakaway, under construction:

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Royal Princess marks the first new build for the cruise line since 2008’s Ruby Princess, the last of Princess Cruises popular grand class ships. They built nine of those and already have a sister ship to Royal Princess in the works too.

Royal Princess
will be a careful evolution of the Princess product with a ship laid out in typical Princess patterns. Focusing on their mantra to let passengers “escape completely” Princess Cruises has designed a ship totally around that concept. It’s a success formula that has made Princess popular over the years and keeps travelers coming back for more.

But Princess goes a bit over the top themselves too, adding an over-the-water “SeaWalk” that will extend 28 feet over the side of the ship, offering views of the ocean 128 feet below off the ship’s starboard side. On the port side, a SeaView bar will be positioned to offer cocktails and some great views. Here is what that venue and others should look like when complete:

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Top-deck features are a focus of cruise ships industry-wide lately and Royal Princess is no exception. This Princess ship starts with a new adults-only pool surrounded by plush private cabanas that appear to be floating on the water. Two more pools will flank a “tropical island” that will have pool seating by day then become a dance club with a dancing water and light show by night.

Next year’s Regal Princess will be a twin sister to 141,000 ton Royal Princess, complete with a central atrium Piazza area that is 50% larger area than previous versions and casual dining options that include an Italian gelateria, a seafood bar and expanded seating in the passenger-favorite International Cafe.

Under construction right now in Venice, Princess Cruises sent along these photos from the shipyard:

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We will be heading to Venice, Italy, at the end of March for a first-hand look at construction of Royal Princess in-progress. Stay tuned for updates.

So which ship to choose? Here are some points to consider:

  • The value is there for either ship. Both will stack up nicely compared to land vacations to the same places these ships sail, allowing passengers to unpack once but visit multiple destinations.
  • Norwegian Breakaway adds an additional choice, year-round for cruise travelers departing from the upper East coast, eliminating the need for airfare and sailing to Bermuda, the Bahamas and Florida.
  • Royal Princess will sail seven-night itineraries from Florida’s Port Everglades to the Eastern Caribbean from November 2013 through April 2014 after a Mediterranean season that begins June 9, 2013.
  • Traditional cruisers will find their dreams fulfilled on Royal Princess with standard features the line has become famous for – amped up for today’s traveler. Think: turbo Love Boat.
  • Norwegian Breakaway promises an entertainment experience as good if not better than the bar-raising elements added on their last new build, Norwegian Epic. Think: epic flavor, easy to swallow.

[Photo Credits- Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises]

Cirque Dreams Travels The Country, Tours Military Bases Worldwide

cirque dreams

The first-ever Cirque Dreams World Tour performed at 17 U.S. military bases throughout ten countries in January. Now, Cirque Dreams Holidaze promises to light up the 2012 holiday season transforming stages at five military bases in Korea and across the United States into a magical holiday wonderland.

This is not your mother’s Christmas pageant either. The traditional elements are there but that’s about where tradition ends. Gingerbread men flip in mid air and toy soldiers march on thin wires. Snowmen, icemen, penguins, Christmas tree ornaments and dancing puppets all come to life to an original music score.

Honoring tradition, seasonal favorites accompany hundreds of astonishing costumes and holiday dreams in a setting of gigantic gifts, colossal candy canes and 30-foot towering soldiers creating a wonderland of spectacle.

Fans won’t have to travel far to see the international cast of multi-talented and brilliantly costumed artists come to life and perform astonishing feats of disbelief.

The Cirque Dreams Holidaze U.S. tour begins on November 13 in Abilene, Texas, then travels up the West Coast, down through the Midwest, into the South and ends in Schenectady, New York, on December 30.

Here’s a preview:




Cirque Dreams’ stable of popular shows include Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, Cirque Dreams Illumination, Cirque Dreams & Dinner onboard Norwegian Epic and upcoming Norwegian Breakaway, Cirque Dreams Rocks, and Cirque Dreams Holidaze, now in its fourth consecutive touring season and success from The Kennedy Center.

[Photo Credit: Cirque Productions]

Six Flags Steps Up Entertainment, Cirque Style

six flags

California’s Six Flags Discovery Kingdom this week announced a partnership with Cirque Productions’ Neil Goldberg and his Cirque Dreams entertainment brand to add a new cutting edge dolphin show featuring Cirque Dreams in spring 2013 titled Cirque Dreams Splashtastic – the Most Amazing Show Above H20.

This new aquatic production teams up the park’s marine mammals with Cirque’s company of acrobats, aerialists and Cirque Dreams acts that promise a unique theme park experience. If this is anything close to the quality of Cirque Dreams and Dinner, featured on Norwegian Cruise Line’s latest cruise ship, Norwegian Epic, theme park fans should love it.”We are excited to bring the unique magic of Cirque Dreams to our guests,” said Dale Kaetzel, park president, in a Wall Street Journal Marketwatch article. “This mesmerizing new water spectacle is a great complement to our existing line-up of rides, shows and animal attractions making us Northern California’s best entertainment destination.”

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic joins wildlife shows and animal attractions that include Pinnipeds of the Caribbean sea lion show, Odin’s Temple of the Tiger, Birds of the World, Elephant Encounter, and Walrus Experience educational demonstration shows.

Cirque Dreams stable of popular shows include Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, Cirque Dreams Illumination, Cirque Dreams & Dinner onboard Norwegian Epic and upcoming Norwegian Breakaway, Cirque Dreams Rocks, and Cirque Dreams Holidaze, now in its fourth consecutive touring season and success from The Kennedy Center.



[Photo- Cirque Productions]

Cruise line pays would-be passengers to watch TV

Cruise line paysNorwegian Cruise Line’s episode of the hit reality series Undercover Boss was first broadcast last January. But it’s summertime now and that brings reruns. The Undercover Boss episode featuring Norwegian’s CEO Kevin Sheehan replays July 17. In an interesting twist on summer TV viewing options, Norwegian Cruise Line pays an on-board cash bonus to anyone who books a cruise between July 16 and 18.

“While I may not have performed the tasks as well as our amazing crew during the experience, we’ve received a tremendous amount of support from guests and travel partners as a result of our Undercover Boss episode” said Sheehan.

The show, which first aired on January 2, 2011, was seen by more than 14 million people in the US and has also aired in Canada, Australia and Norway. Norwegian Cruise Line’s episode of Undercover Boss was also the most-recalled brand appearance in a prime-time broadcast show in January.Viewers will have the chance to relive everything from the awkward moment when Sheehan’s cover is blown by a waitress in a restaurant on Norwegian Epic to leading a crowd of 1,000 guests in a line dance. Watch as Sheehan attempts to work alongside a deck repairman (and fellow New Yorker) who was frankly critical of his performance. One of the best parts of the episode comes when Sheehan agrees with a crew member that what looked to be a great new feature on Norwegian Epic in the boardroom played out to be a dismal failure in real life. That segment alone is worth the watch.

As an exclusive offer for the rebroadcast of the episode, guests who book a Norwegian cruise vacation between July 16 and July 18, 2011 will get up to $200 to spend on board and a reduced deposit.

“I think the viewers were in awe of our amazing ships and phenomenal hard working crew and truly felt a connection with us” Sheehan added.

CBS’s pseudo-reality series, Undercover Boss, features a high-ranking executive posing as an entry-level worker in the company they manage. Camera crews, lights and associated production stuff is passed off as part of a “documentary” about what it’s like to be the new guy at work. Previous companies featured include Frontier Airlines, Johnny Rockets, Subway Restaurants and Direct-TV.

Undercover Boss can be seen July 17, 2011 at 9 p.m. ET (8 p.m. CT) on the CBS Television Network.

Flickr photo by Stephen & Katherine