There are plenty of ways smartphone apps come in handy while on a cruise--such as offline navigation apps, photo apps that make your snapshots look like the product of a professional camera, and even sleeping aids that help drown out excess noise in your stateroom. Here are some of our favorite apps to use before and during your vacation.
1. Google Maps
This app can be a lifesaver for someone who prefers exploring a port of call independently rather than with a guide. It allows you to download a city's map to access in offline mode. So if you're lacking a signal and get lost or want to find your way to a nearby restaurant or sightseeing spot, you can do so easily.
2. Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime is Amazon.com's membership program that allows subscribers to download anything from music to movies and e-books. This subscription is great for avid online shoppers or those who frequent Amazon's site for online purchases. Prime also offers free standard and 2-day shipping as well as expedited shipping options (a perk for last-minute cruise shoppers). Anyone looking for some polside reading material, for instance, can download books straight to their phone. Note: while you can download books and movies for offline viewing, some titles have restrictions on the length of time they're available to view without a wifi signal.
3. Amazon Prime Now
This service is only available in a few cities, but it comes in handy if you need something delivered to you in a pinch. Amazon Prime Now delivers to your home or office in less than 2 hours. So, if you’ve forgotten to buy an extra swimsuit or need an extra carry-on, simply use this app to have what you need before you step foot on board—and with little interruption to your departure day routine.
Spotify is a music app allows you to create playlists of your favorite songs. The Premium version ($9.99/mo) even allows you to access your playlists offline, so you can listen to music when you’re out at sea and have no signal. This feature is especially handy for those who want to squeeze in some workouts on board or simply want some music to accompany a lazy beach day at port.
5. What's App
A free alternative to text messaging (international roaming and data charges can be a killer), What's App is great to use if you need to get in touch with someone back home. It requires a wifi signal, but you can send and receive messages while you're off the ship and in port.
6. White Noise
This app is ideal for anyone with a noisy neighbor or a stateroom located near the more active parts of the ship (like an elevator or underneath the nightclub). The White Noise app features ambient sounds of the environment to help induce sleep--also great for babies who are used to sleeping with some sort of background noise.
7. Photo apps
We love using Instagram to feature cool cruising photos (follow us!) because you can easily share them with your friends and family. We’re also fans of photo apps like:
- VSCO, which features beautiful photo filters to give your photos a professional, print-ready touch.
- Hyperlapse (available for iPhone only). For those looking to shoot video on their phone, this one features a slightly better time lapse video than what most smartphones offer.
- Layout (available for iPhone and Android), if you want to create a photo collage of your cruise.
8. Your cruise line’s app
Most cruise lines have apps that feature information on what's on board—from the beer of the day to making dinner and show reservations. Note: you'll need to download the app before your cruise, but you can load any information on it until it's time to get on board.
Cruise-friendly accessories for your smartphone
None of these apps would be accessible without these smartphone basics:
Earphones: Pack some noise cancelling ones or a pair that will stay in place during a workout or audio book session.
A wall charger: This one of those obvious but easy-to-overlook items on your cruise packing list. But, hey, things happen--if you happen to forget yours, you can pick up an extra one on the ship’s gift shop.
A portable charger: Listening to novels and chirping birds while editing an amazing sunrise photo can drain your phone’s battery. Pack a portable charger to keep your phone juiced up to stay connected while exploring on shore (especially if you’re in need of some quick to-do tips while exploring a port of call).
A waterproof case: After all, you’re surrounded by water. LifeProof phone cases even allow you to take photos underwater (a plus if you want to take pictures while snorkeling or diving in the Caribbean).
Have a smartphone app that you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.