Planning in advance we locate, learn how to use and try a number of smartphone apps whenever we travel. On our 12-night Summer Russia and The Baltics sailing of Azamara Quest, we followed that strategy and wound up with a far richer travel experience than past sailings.
Most of the apps used are available for iPhone and Android devices, making them or similar apps a good choice for any traveler. Let’s take a look at each, why we used them and what we got out of them that earned each a home page location on our iPhone 6:
Marine Traffic is not a free app but well worth the $3.99 price tag for anyone who a) likes to sail a lot b) buys an all-inclusive Internet package with 24/7 access not tied to data use. As we approached Amsterdam I watched as the Marine Traffic app identified all ships in the water. Narrowing that down by removing cargo ships, high-speed vessels and everything other than cruise ships, it was easy to see who was in port with us and calculate our projected approach to the port. This was a lot of fun and something readers will see more of in the future as we include information from the Marine Traffic app in future writings.
Azamara 3DI gives virtual reality tours of Azamara ships as well as a growing library of destination immersion through the miracle of 3D photography. Azamara also has a list of recommended apps to download and have on your device prior to sailing which features a number of the apps listed here.
Azamara Club Cruises Destination Immersion Travel Guide by AFAR Magazine, released in May, has a wonderful AFAR-infused app with rich destination information. We used it to source a self-guided tour of Amsterdam, visiting all the places we wanted to see in good time. That gave more time to linger at the different places, have lunch and shop.
Google Maps is just something everyone needs when traveling anywhere outside of their hometown. Easy, accurate directions powered by the vast resources of Google make this one a must-have that we used many times during our voyage. This is also one to take with you in the car. Google Maps is frequently updated with the latest information.
TripIt is simply the best travel organizer around. One part of TripIt life that makes it work so very well is the ability to simply forward emailed confirmations from travel suppliers to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once received, TripIt quickly organizes those plans and inserts them accurately to each day’s itinerary. Updates and changes received after booking get added as I send them along too.
Fly Delta is simply the airline du jour app that I have along for this trip. Frankly, TripIt can handle all the details and is most often the first app to send along notifications of flight delays, gate changes and more. Still, I bring along the app for whatever airline I am flying which has exclusive domain over electronic boarding passes I like to add to my passbook homescreen app as well.
FlightTrack is probably unnecessary redundancy, providing information I get from Tripit and the airline app. Still, having a bit of redundancy is a good idea, like getting second opinions from other travelers when visiting a place for the first time. FlightTrack brings an in-progress travel map showing where we are in flight either live (when an Internet connection is possible) and projected (when no connection is around).
World Clock might be telling me information I already know but the time difference between where I am in Europe and the places I need to keep in mind back in North America but it’s a nice visual aid to drive that point home. On our Azamara Quest itinerary we changed time on the ship several time, sailing in and out of time zones. One look at the World Clock app and I have no mind-blowing time zone calculations to make.
Facebook is continually one of the easiest apps to post photos and information for the folks back home to see.
Diptic makes it possible for me to take multiple photos and arrange them in a way that shows many different scenes from the day. Instagram has its own version of this now but I still like Diptic better, probably because I know how Diptic works and not learning the Instagram version provides one of those rare opportunities to NOT learn something new.
Photos is iPhone’s master gallery of all photos on my phone. At some point it will automatically upload those to my icloud account where they will be shared by all my devices. Better yet, I can easily share those original, full-size photos with others. I mention this here because the new and improved Photos is much easier to use in foreign locations.
Eyefi Mobi this is a memory card I use in my Nikon camera that automatically copies photos off my camera and sends them to my smartphone. If I am in a place with WiFi Internet access or if I wish to roam using celluar data, I can easily take a photo captured with my (better) Nikon camera instead of using one sourced from my (pretty darn good) iPhone 6 camera.
Twitter is just about the fastest, most efficient app for tweeting when traveling. That may sound odd, after all Twitter made Twitter, but it works and other, third-party apps do not work as well on odd Internet systems we might find around the world.
Camera- I keep this right on my home screen for easy quick access should something happen fast that I need to take a photo of right now. Also a good idea, supplement your stand alone camera efforts with a shot or two from the iPhone as well. It never hurts to have a backup.
Instagram- This one is perfect for sharing your journey socially. In addition to the fact that one post on Instagram can be sent simulaneously to Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter, it works good. Not all photo sharing apps do.
Google Hangouts is one great way to use the ship’s Internet access on a hand-held device to stay connected with the folks back home. Very efficient, I can chat with friends from around the world via text pretty much any time there is an Internet signal to be had. Make that a decent signal and video chat works too.
Google Inbox is great for travelers who have gmail and any traveler who does not needs to get it, for one very big reason: It works. Typically efficient Google software connects with poor signals and brings home the mail. An “I’m On Vacation, Leave Me Alone” message is easy to turn on and off too.
Fitbit works around the world, although one might run into problems initially for a couple reasons. First, the time change nearly always robs me of steps the first day as the Fitbit app adjusts to the new time zone. Get over that and move along; there is really nothing to do about it other than stay on at-home time the entire trip. Also, if not syncing nicely with the FitBit smartphone app, try uninstalling and reinstalling the app (delete then download again) and that solves most issues.
Translate is the super powerful Google version of a language translator that works offline in the language last visited online. Kind of a no brainer not to have this ability when visiting a foreign land. Better idea, save commonly used phrases. For me, “please”, “beer”, “espresso”, “toilet” and “thank you” cover most of the bases.
Did You Miss Out On Our Azamara Quest Cruise? Here is all that happened and a bit more
Individual Day Posts During Sailing– day by day, in the order written
- Travel Day Before Our Azamara Cruise
- Getting Off On An Even Better Foot
- An Azamara Tour Of Stockholm
- A Day In Helsinki
- First Impressions Of Russia: No Surprises, Plenty Of Intrigue
- Second Impressions of Russia: Azamazing
- Connecting, Russia And Chocolate Bars
- A Lovely Day In Estonia With Azamara Club Cruises
- The Icing On The Destination Cake
- Amsterdam with Azamara, AFAR
- Azamara Inspired Amsterdam: Because We Had The Time
Pinterest Photo Boards – one for each port and more
- We Stayed Longer In Tallinn, Estonia
- St. Petersburg Russia At Night
- St Petersburg On A Wonderful, Sunny Day
- St Petersburg First Impressions: About What We Expected Actually
- Stockholm, Sweden
- Stockholm Arlanda Airport
- Azamara Quest Culinary
- Helsinki, Finland
- Azamara Quest In The Baltics
- A Glimpse Of Tallinn, Estonia
- Tallinn Estonia Album
- Azamara Quest Bridge Tour
- Azamara Quest White Night
- Amsterdam, Day One guided by the Azamara smarphone app
Flickr Photo Albums- all our photos for each place, free to use- check back frequently; we are adding more photos throughout the journey.
- Two Days In Stockholm
- Stockholm Arlanda Airport
- Azamara Quest Culinary Creations
- Scenic Cruising From Stockholm
- Azamara Quest Laundry Room
- Baltic Sunsets Seen From The Deck Of Azamara Quest
- St Petersburg, Russia: As We Imagined It
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Copenhagen Walking Tour With Canal Cruise
- White Night On Azamara Quest
- A Tour Of The Navigational Bridge On Azamara Quest
- Seen At Sea On Our Azamara Quest Cruise
Facebook Photo Albums
- Overnight Brings Early Morning In Stockholm
- Two Days In St Petersburg, Russia
- Copenhagen, Denmark On A Walking Tour
- A Walk Around Helsinki
- Amsterdam, Guided By The Azamara Smarphone App
- Amsterdam On Our Own
Check These Social Sources Too
- TWITTER- On Twitter follow @OrlandoChris and the tag #LoveTravel – we’re tweeting a different photo from our journey every 30 minutes during our sailing. Look at :15 and :30 past the hour
- INSTAGRAM- On Instagram follow ChrisCruises
- TUMBLR- Tumblr also follow ChrisCruises