8 Free Phone Travel Apps for Cruisers

Smart Phone on Cruise

Smart phones make life easier in so many ways, including preparing for and taking a cruise. From helping you pack to mapping a port city, downloadable phone travel apps have replaced pen, paper and guidebooks as the way du jour to jot reminders and research information.  App stores are treasure troves for cruisers in search of ways to stay organized before and during their trip, with everything from virtual packing lists to guided tours. Most of these apps are free, with the option to pay for an upgrade to an advanced version with more bells and whistles. For example, our favorite language translator app, iHandy, offers a paid version that includes unlimited text to speech translations and a list of commonly used phrases, without all the obnoxious pop-up ads.

We spent some time digging for the hottest, free, cruise-worthy travel apps in iTunes and Google Play, and handpicked several that are essential for any savvy smartphone-user hitting the high seas.

Here are the eight free travel apps we found for cruisers.

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1. TripIt

Why we love it: TripIt is the ultimate pre-cruise organizer. The app is essentially a hub for all your cruise itineraries, flight information, pre- or post-cruise hotel bookings, transfer reservations and more. Users can manually add trip information or have TripIt do it for them, by linking their email address -- from which the app will recognize confirmation numbers and pull relevant information. It will also send check-in reminders. Sync it with your calendar (iCal, Google and Microsoft Outlook) for extra reminders, or share your exciting itinerary on social media with the click of a button. Consider upgrading to TripIt Pro (0.99 cents) for real-time flight alerts, seat tracking, refund notifications and more.

Available on: iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone

PackPoint Packing App

2. PackPoint Packing

Why we love it: What better way to take the stress out of packing than with an app that tells you what to put in your suitcase? PackPoint offers personalized packing suggestions based on your answers to a few simple questions, and allows you to customize your own checklist. The app asks for your gender, when and where you're traveling, what activities you might be doing and so on. It then retrieves the weather forecast for your travel dates and creates a list of suggested packing items such as clothes, toiletries and accessories. When determining item quantities, the app even considers clothes you can wear more than once and whether or not laundry will be available. The only thing it doesn't do is pack for you. Download PackPoint Premium for $2.99, and you can connect your packing lists to TripIt.

Available on: iOS and Android

3. Relax Melodies

Why we love it: If you depend on white noise to help you fall asleep, you're in luck. The Relax Melodies app not only offers an extensive library of melodies and soothing white noise choices like thunderstorms and ocean waves, but it also lets you customize playlists by choosing your mood, creating mixes and adding your own music. Furthermore, the app includes a link to its blog with fun reads and tips on better sleeping.

Available on: iOS, Android and Windows Phone

TripAdvisor Mobile App

4. TripAdvisor

Why we love it: TripAdvisor's app is a must-have for cruisers exploring a port on their own. The app allows cruisers to search for top-rated attractions nearby, read member reviews, download city maps and more. Users can sift through countless must-see sights, bars and restaurants, and independent tours. You can even sort by the type of food you're craving. Select a place of interest and click the map for walking (or driving) directions. (Editor's note: Cruise Critic is published by The Independent Traveler, Inc., a subsidiary of TripAdvisor, Inc.)

Available on: iOS, Android and Windows Phone

5. Wi-Fi Finder

Why we love it: Need to send a quick instant message -- or just want to upload a few photos on social media to make your friends and family back home jealous? As much as we diligently vow to stay disconnected while cruising, sometimes technology wins. If you've got a free day in port and want to tap into the cyber world without serious roaming charges, find the nearest cafe or bar with wireless Internet, using the Wi-Fi Finder app. Search via a local directory or let the Wi-Fi scanner locate nearby hotspots.

Available on: iOS and Android

iTranlate Voice Lite

6. iTranslate Voice Lite

Why we Love it: Language translator apps are not uncommon. They appear in app stores as life-saving tools to help you communicate in countries where you don't understand the language. While they all do the same job, each has its own quirks and perks. We've found iTranslate Voice Lite to be the most convenient of them all. Speak clearly into the phone, and the app will automatically translate and play back what you said in your desired language. The same goes when whomever you're conversing with is ready to respond. It's quick, easy to use and the translations are seamless. Upgrading to iTranslate Voice costs $6.99, but we think it's worth it if you travel frequently. It includes more languages (more than 40 total) and the ability to search definitions for common words and phrases.

Available on: iOS and Android

7. XE Currency

Why we love it: You're shopping at a chic Barcelona boutique and fall in love with a handbag -- but there's one small issue: the price tag is in euros, and you want to know how much it'll cost you in U.S. dollars before you splurge. The XE Currency app is perfect for calculating conversions like this on the go. It also includes a list of live currency rates that refreshes on its own.

Available on: iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone

Cruise Critic Forums App

8. Cruise Critic Forums

Why we love it: This app is essentially a mobile version of the site's popular message boards and roll calls, on which members ask one another questions, get to know fellow cruisers before their cruise, plan sailaway soirees, book group shore excursions and more. We recommend joining the roll call for you sailing once your cruise is booked, then downloading the app so it's easier to stay connected -- before, during and even after your sailing.

Available on: iOS and Android

If you're interested in the apps the cruise lines are offering, Cruise Critic has you covered. From apps that ease communication among passengers onboard to apps that let you book dining, shows and spa appointments, we round up the latest cruise line messaging apps.

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