Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

8 Useful Apps Every Cruiser Should Know About

17 Apr 2024
Calista Kiper

You can make your cruise so much easier with a few helpful apps.

Useful apps to use

As a traveler who’s visited 12 countries and countless cities, I’ve had to build up my toolbox from the ground up.

From Google Maps to Airbnb, a variety of modern apps and websites have been created that help travelers with everything they need. When you have the right tools by your side, your experiences will become much easier and incredibly rewarding.

It takes trial and error (and sometimes some embarrassing mistakes!) to find all the best apps and websites to help you out along the way.

Some of these apps aren’t well-known but they can save you a lot of time, money, and energy.

To make sure you’re not missing out on any tools, here are the top 8 apps I recommend every cruiser use.

1. Airalo

International travelers are familiar with the feeling of stepping foot in a foreign place and desperately searching for WiFi.

Cruise ships don’t stop in one place for long, and this can leave cruisers at a disadvantage when it comes to phone connectivity on land.

When you’re visiting a country for only eight hours or so, it doesn't make sense to find a store and waste money buying a physical SIM card for your phone that you’ll throw away the next day.

Airalo provides a simple solution. The app allows you to purchase eSIMs for a selected amount of days so that you can connect to data on your trip.

While it depends on the region and offers available, you can usually choose between 7 days, 15 days, 30 days, and 365 days.

The eSIM uploads directly to your phone, and you can activate it immediately! The app is free to download, and you get 5% cashback with each transaction you make.

The best part is, these eSIMs are extremely affordable. Most 7-day packages are under $5.

With Airalo, you will never again have to find strange cafes to sit in while you download maps or Google search for what to do next.

Read more: Royal Caribbean WiFi: Guide to Internet at sea

2. Been

Orlando, Florida on a map

What Goodreads is to readers, Been is to travelers. 

Been is an app that allows you to track the places you’ve visited, lived, and wish to travel to.

Been tracks how many countries you’ve visited and calculates what percentage of the world you’ve been to.

When you update your map with a location, that location lights up in color. You can edit your map to display your countries in many different ways.

The app also allows you to share an image or video of all the places you’ve visited.

It’s an exciting way to craft your travel bucket list and remember all the places you’ve been.

While the app is free, there is a premium version you can upgrade to.

The premium version is $2.29 and allows you to update specific cities and airports, compare your profile with friends, and add more visualizations to your map.

3. WhatsApp

Americans may not be familiar with WhatsApp, but it’s useful in almost every other country.

WhatsApp is a secure messaging platform that many use for texts and calls. It works without data, just on WiFi, so it’s a great option for travelers.

It is a free app that connects your contacts using your phone number.

When traveling abroad, you’ll find that many hotels, tours, and other locations offer a WhatsApp number to contact them.

RC message watch

For example, when my Mediterranean cruise ended in Barcelona, I ordered a shuttle service to get me to the airport in time for my flight home.

However, the driver was 20 minutes late, and the only contact number listed was a WhatsApp number. 

If I didn't have the app downloaded and set up, I could have been delayed even more in contacting them and getting on the road.

Before you leave for your cruise, just download WhatsApp and you’ll be one step ahead.

4. Tripit

Allegiant airplane

Cruising often involves organizing several different methods of travel.

You may have to fly to your cruise ship, and then get onboard. You will have to enter different ports of call and find transportation to your tourist destinations.

It’s a lot to organize—but TripIt can help. TripIt is an app that organizes all your travel plans into one place.

The best part is that you can forward your travel receipts and plans directly to [email protected], and the app will automatically add them to your profile.

You can even share your plans with others inside the app or in a text or email.

All these features are free to use, but the pro version—which costs $48.99 a year—automatically invites others to your trips and tracks your loyalty programs and rewards.

TripIt is the most simple and efficient way of organizing your trip.

5. Royal Caribbean

If you cruise Royal Caribbean, you definitely need to have the app downloaded.

The Royal app is your key to the entire cruise vacation.

Before the cruise begins, you can use the app to check in, plan your arrival time, and make pre-cruise purchases like dining, shore excursions, and WiFi.

YYou will also complete your safety briefing on the app by watching a series of short videos.

Once you’re onboard, you also have access to maps of every deck, a daily Cruise planner, and your own personal calendar.

It’s an indispensable tool throughout your cruise, from finding out what dining venues are open to seeing the dress theme for the night.

In-app messaging also allows you to communicate with guests who are linked under your booking, or who have your full name. 

The app is completely free to use, even if you do not purchase Royal Caribbean WiFi. Free WiFi onboard will allow you to use the app 24/7.

6. Xe Currency

Currency exchange windows

How many dollars are in a euro again? Why does this item cost thousands of yen?

When you use Xe Currency, you won’t have to memorize the exact conversation rates.

This app automatically displays the most updated exchange rates for as many currencies as you need.

Australian banknotes

It’s also a method of sending money directly to bank accounts or mobile wallets.

To save yourself the headache of memorization, or the embarrassment of opening a calculator at every purchase, you should use Xe Currency.

7. CruiseMapper

Tracking ships

If you’ve ever wondered where a cruise ship is at this moment in time, CruiseMapper is a great app to download.

There are many free cruise ship tracking apps available online.

CruiseMapper is one such free version, but it does display ads on the bottom of the screen.

The app takes you to a world map that displays ships sailing all over. Arrow icons indicate ships that are currently sailing, while dots are ships that are docked at port.

Tracking cruise ships on internet

You can click on each icon to explore the ship or search by ship/port to find a specific one.

Whether you’re curious about someone else’s voyage or checking up on a familiar ship, CruiseMapper is a great way to track a cruise ship’s location.

8. My Cruise

Kids together on Wonder of the Seas

If you’re trying to get younger kids used to the idea of cruising, My Cruise is a game that can help.

My Cruise is a free mobile game where you can control all the parts of creating a luxury cruise vacation. You will work to build a cruise ship, developing restaurants and staterooms. 

You can even set sail, visit different ports of call and collect passengers.

It’s a fun game with calming music and a cute art style, also making it a relaxing option for adults who love to cruise!

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. 

Get our newsletter

Stay up-to-date with cruise news & advice

    We never share your information with third parties and will protect it in accordance with our Privacy Policy