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How to Track a Cruise Ship Location on the Internet

22 Mar 2024
Calista Kiper

Did you know it’s possible to track a cruise ship’s live location?

Tracking cruise ships on internet

Thanks to modern technology, you can instantly find out where any cruise ship is in the world. 

You may not have realized that tracking a cruise ship is possible, but I'm certain you've felt the urge to try.

Maybe you felt curious about a friend’s voyage or concerned about a loved one’s safety. You found yourself wishing that you could know exactly where in the world they are.

Or perhaps you’ve already disembarked from a favorite vessel, and are checking up on its current location.

Whatever the reason for your curiosity, checking a ship’s location is a straightforward process.

This guide will explore various methods and technologies available for tracking the movements of cruise ships all over the world.

Read on for your comprehensive guide to tracking a cruise ship’s live location.

How does it work? 


Vessel tracking mainly depends on a technology called the Automatic Identification System (AIS).

Ships larger than 300 tons are required to carry and use AIS.

AIS is essentially a vessel tracking system used by ships to broadcast their position, speed, and course. 

The system uses a vessel’s GPS system or internal systems to gather the ship’s movements. Then, the information from the AIS unit is transmitted in the background.

Programmable information includes the vessel’s name, destination, and Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number.

Tracking ships

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) requires ships to use AIS so that other ships and coastal authorities can receive relevant information about their position. This enhances maritime safety and navigation.

Most modern vessels use a combination of land-based AIS data, satellite AIS relays, and land-based, very-high frequency radios (VHF) line-of-sight equipment. 

These systems allow online trackers to receive the information that lets you track a cruise ship online.

However, you may not receive all of this data online for free. 

Ship tendering

Satellite AIS receivers are very expensive, meaning you will probably have to pay to access this information.

That means that most ship trackers available for free will only be completely accurate when the ship is close enough to shore for a land-based receiver to pick up the transmissions.

However, even free options can give you an idea of where your favorite cruise ship might be.

Online tracking websites

Ships docked at CocoCay

Several websites offer live tracking of cruise ships online. These websites make it convenient for anyone with internet access to monitor the movements of vessels around the world.

Users can view information on vessel locations by cruise line, type of cruise, or simply by looking at a world map.

Or, you can search for a particular ship by entering the name, International Maritime Organization (IMO) number, or Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number of the ship to view its current position on a map.

Cruise Mapper

Cruise Mapper takes you straight to a world map, where you can choose from a list of vessels, or search for the exact ship on the top middle.

Arrow icons display ships currently sailing, while dots represent ships that are docked at port.

To the left of the screen, you can select from several options of cruise lines, choosing which ones you want to view or hide.

When you find a ship you’d like to track, you can view more information by clicking on the ship’s icon.

A window on the left will display details about the cruise, such as weather, passengers, current speed, and itinerary.

Marine Vessel Traffic

Marine Vessel Traffic is a website that displays tracking information for all types of ships, from cargo to fishing to submarines.

You can view cruise ships specifically by selecting “passenger” on the top menu labeled “Map selector.”

Below the Map selector, options for cruise lines appear. Clicking on a particular line’s logo pulls up the tracking information for that specific fleet.

The world map will reveal all the cruise ships currently sailing. As you drag your mouse over each ship icon, the name of the ship and its cruise line will appear.

Ship Cruises

Ship Cruises also displays an interactive menu with options to filter by cruise line. You can also filter by the type of cruise, making it easy for you to track river cruises or ocean sailings. Docked ships are marked by a small green dot, while ships en route have a larger green arrow.

To view information on a particular ship, click its icon and then select “details.” 

This takes you to a separate page where you can view position, itinerary, map, and weather.

My Ship Tracking

My Ship Tracking has a more visual focus, with several map options. You can add or remove filtered layers, such as weather or vessel size and age.

To find a certain ship, type its name into the search bar at the top right.

There is also the option for you to save particular vessels into your own fleet that is displayed on the map. You must create a free account or log in to activate this feature.

Mobile applications

If you’re on the go, or prefer to use a phone, mobile apps also offer convenient ways to track cruise ships.

Most of the popular ship tracking websites mentioned above also have mobile apps available for download on IOS and Android devices.

Similar to the websites, these apps allow users to access live ship routes, positions, and weather.

A simple search on your App Store also provides a variety of ship-tracking apps, such as MarineTraffic, MyShipTracking, Boat Watch, Cruise Mapper, or Cruise Finder.

No tracking with the official app

Many major cruise lines have their own websites and applications that provide information on each ship’s whereabouts.

Royal Caribbean’s app and website do not have any live tracking features for their cruise ships.

However, you can visit the website for general upgrades on travel information here.

If you have a cruise booked, you will also receive any important upgrades by email or on the mobile app.

If you’re attempting to track a friend or family member’s cruise, you can always look up the ship’s itinerary by name and date, and make an estimate based on the time of certain scheduled arrivals.

Related articles

Have more questions about the technology of cruising? Check out these blog posts:

Calista Kiper graduated from Wheaton College, IL, with a B.A. in English Writing. 

Growing up traveling around the world, she developed a passion for diversity and cross-cultural communication. From her first cruise on Wonder of the Seas, she has delighted in the intersection between travel, diversity, and writing in the cruising world.

Calista spends her free time reading, cooking, and researching the latest human-interest stories. 

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