Since smartphones now double as high quality point-and-shoot cameras, the prospect of abandoning your iPhone or Android device on vacation to “disconnect” is less and less a viable option. That’s not to say you still can’t unwind from the daily grind of constant communication while on a cruise. Onboard technology now allows us to do as much or as little as we choose, and Norwegian Cruise Line is at the forefront of such innovations with its free iConcierge app for use on the Norwegian Epic and new Norwegian Breakaway.
At its simplest, the app functions as a digital Freestyle Daily, Norwegian’s paper program guide. This itself is very handy, and environmentally friendly, to have access to a full electronic schedule of events, even those in the coming days to plot out your entire voyage. It also lists helpful information about all onboard offerings and services.
Where the app really shines though is in its interactivity. Just like at the digital kiosks throughout the ship, Norwegian’s à la carte dining and entertainment options are bookable right at your fingertips, as are shore excursions. You can also review your current folio statement wherever you are onboard.
Keep in mind also that these functions are available through the ships Wi-Fi network for free and do not count against any minutes purchased as part of an internet package. The only charge incurred from the app itself is for its most impressive feature: the ability to call and text other app-using guests onboard as often as you wish for a flat fee of $7.95 per device per cruise. You can similarly call numbers or accept calls from off the ship using the app at a rate of $0.79 per minute.
As far as compatibility is concerned, the Norwegian iConcierge app is available for iPhones and iPads as well as Android and Windows 7 devices, only onboard the Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Breakaway currently. However, calling is not available on iPads and Windows tablets. While I didn’t try the feature myself on my iPhone 5, at this time, calling and texting is apparently incompatible with this model, at least on the Norwegian Epic, according to a review posted at the iTunes Store on October 14, 2013 by alexvid.
I was generally impressed with the app for what it was capable of save for the folio review feature. It never tallied up my charges during the cruise and always stated my balance as $0.00. Still, simply being able to look up the daily schedule for the entire length of the cruise was enough for me to be happy with the app, and had we not already booked our dining, entertainment and shore excursion choices, the ability to reserve these would have been a well used feature as well.
While no fault of Norwegian, my newly updated iPhone 5 running iOS 7 curiously required that I select the shipboard Wi-Fi network several times whenever I wanted to use the app to login without connecting to the internet. Once first logged in, registering my device to run on the Norwegian Breakaway network was a breeze, and I enjoyed connecting to play with the app throughout the day.
The bottom line is the app is imperfect but very useful nonetheless. In many ways, it’s still a bit of a prototype while incompatibilities are ironed out, but with the bulk of the features offered for free, you can’t go wrong to try it out yourself. In fact, you can use it right now. The cruise countdown clock anticipates your own upcoming cruise with the remaining features becoming available once onboard.
As Norwegian Cruise Line continues to develop its app, there are a number of features that I would love to see added over time. First on the list would be a means to review all of the dining, entertainment and shore excursion options that you already have reserved. Thankfully, we had all of our pre-booked choices written down before the cruise. Otherwise, there would have been no way to recall what we had initially planned when making additional selections. Another great feature would be the ability to review and purchase the images taken of you by the ships photographers right from within the app.
I’m sure the future of the Norwegian iConcierge app is bright, and I can’t wait to see how it evolves over time. For more information on the app, visit Norwegian Cruise Line‘s website here.
Have you tried this app yourself? Please feel free to share your experience with it in the comments section below…
HEADER IMAGES SOURCE: NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE