The majority of the big cruise lines now have their own travel apps that help you to plan your onboard activities and offshore excursions – this is true of CarnivalCelebrityMSC and Royal Caribbean for a start. Our rundown however covers the best apps for cruisers away from the independent ones on the market, nearly all of which are free.

Some are cruise specific, enabling you to manage your onboard finances or helping with pretty much every aspect of cruise planning. Others can be used anywhere in the world and have benefits such as being able to find highly-rated restaurants when out and about, or keeping in touch with loved ones for free when abroad.

It’s a good idea to download apps like this before you board using your home WiFi, as internet may be limited onboard and is usually chargeable.

App: Cruise Ship Mate

Best for: All round planning

Cost: Free for iOS and Android devices

A closer look:

Great for pre-planning and onboard organisation, Cruise Ship Mate is an established app used by repeat cruisers as well as being ideal for first-timers. With information on hundreds of ships across more than 20 lines, it has a cruise countdown that’s shareable on social media for when you’re getting excited about your trip. You can also track where your ship is in dock before you board and view live onboard webcams.

One of the most useful features is being able to chat with other passengers, read their reviews and view their holiday pictures. You can also follow threads you’re interested in and get alerts with new responses. Deck plans and excursion information are also available for free at sea and work without an internet connection.

App: WhatsApp

Best for: Keeping in touch for free

Cost: Free for iOS and Android devices, Windows Phone, Nokia and Blackberry

A closer look:

To keep in touch with friends and family during your cruise adventure, WhatsApp is one of the best and easiest-to-use free messenger services. You can send texts and images to other devices using the app, as well as make calls and video calls. You will need to be connected to the internet so it’s best to use it when you’re in a WiFi hotspot, however WhatsApp does avoid using your mobile plan voice minutes and SMS fees.

App: WifiMapper

Best for: Free internet on shore

Cost: Free for iOS and Android devices

A closer look:

When you want to rest your legs after a long day exploring, click on WifiMapper to see where to get WiFi and keep in touch with people, plan your next day or share some pics online. With 500 million hotspots mapped worldwide, you don’t just have to choose the closest one as they also list the quality of the signal and link to information from FourSquare on the ambience of places. Choose to connect in a cafe for instance, and you may also get some idea of how good the food and coffee is before you even sit down.

App: Cruise Card Control

Best for: Budget planning

Cost: £2.99 for iOS devices

A closer look:

We always strive to offer customers the best deals when buying a cruise, so we understand the importance of keeping track of your finances when you get onboard, too. To help you do this, Cruise Card Control features an easy-to-use expense tracker, allowing you to create categories, monitor your spending and even save pictures of important receipts.

It works without using your phone data so you won’t get charged roaming fees. If you’re sticking to a specific budget, the app also allows you to view handy graphs that let you know exactly how much you have left to spend. Ironically, this is the only app on the list that’s paid for, but it’ll save you money long term.

App: XE Currency

Best for: Currency conversion

Cost: Free for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone

A closer look:

If you’re stopping at multiple ports with different currencies, make sure you’re getting a good deal on your purchases with XE’s currency converter app. It has a live list of common exchange rates that updates every 60 seconds, alongside a calculator for anything else. The free version has all the tools you’ll need, or you can pay £1.99 for an add-free app.

App: TripAdvisor

Best for: Finding top-rated on-shore attractions

Cost: Free for iOS, Android devices, Nokia and Windows phone

A closer look:

Most of us have used TripAdvisor for a land-based holiday and it’s useful in exactly the same way when you hop off the ship to sightsee. The database of over 500 million traveller’s reviews lets you decide where you want to eat, drink and explore, and can be refined by things like cuisine. The app also lets you download city maps and get directions, or hit Near Me Now for local recommendations.

App: Star Chart

Best for: Stargazing

Cost: Free for iOS and Android devices

A closer look:

Out on the ocean, the clear skies away from artificial light provide some of the best conditions in the world for stargazing. It’s also a cheap activity that’s sure to keep the whole family entertained. To help you know what you’re looking at, the Star Chart app uses augmented reality to deliver a truly astronomical experience.

Simply tilt your device towards the sky and discover a virtual window to the universe. Clever GPS technology tracks the position of the stars, planets and moons in real time, so you can see what’s really going on up above.

If you’re itching to try out these apps on your next cruise, take a look at our great cruise holiday deals to help you decide where to go.

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