Monday, September 08, 2014

Review of Disney Cruise Line Navigator App

On this last cruise, which was the DVC Member cruise, we used the DCL Navigator app for the first time and tested it extensively during the cruise. So this our first review of the present version.

It is an iPhone app, and it is only fully operational on the ship. What you do is put your phone in Airplane mode, and then you turn on Wi-fi. This connects to the ship's Wi-fi. If you use it with only the Navigator app, it will incur no cost since you're not really connecting to the internet.

When you open the app for the first time, it will initialize itself and then download the entire cruise's activities and information, including a layout of the ship, etc. So the app is basically the same set of info that you get with the daily Navigator newsletter that they leave in your stateroom at the end of each day, plus more. The app tells you practically all the activities going on throughout the entire cruise. Tapping on the activity gives you details of the activity, when and where, and if there is a fee for it. The app also has other info about the cruise and the ship.

You can add activities you want to be reminded of by adding it to your "Favorites". By tapping on the "heart" that is associated with each activity, you will then be presented by all the available time slots for that activity for the entire cruise (if there is more than one time that activity is offered). Tapping again on the "heart" for a particular time and day will add that activity and that time slot to your favorite.

Then, when that activity is 15 minutes away from starting, your phone will vibrate and will display the activity, time, and location. This was a very handy feature, especially for us since we were doing a lot of things while on the cruise. It also listed the activities going on on Castaway Cay, and the app worked normally there (at least, around the beaches that we tested it).

You have the ability to look ahead at all the days that you will be sailing and picked out activities beyond just the day you are in. So this was very handy for us especially when there were special events that will only be presented once.

This was definitely a useful app. Having all the info conveniently available on your phone at all times was quite handy, I found.

Now, a few cons. The biggest one here is that, other than selecting your favorites, there is no way to personalize this thing. This is not My Disney Experience app. It doesn't know who you are, only that you've selected to save such-and-such activities to that device. That's all. There is no way to know what the others in your party are doing, what they want to do, etc. It would be a nice feature if passengers could sign in, register their guests/family members, and be able to see what activities others in the group are interested in or planning on doing.

The other feature that would be handy is that, after being able to sign in, some form of messaging between members of your own party on the cruise is available. As it is now, the only way to contact another passenger is either via the stateroom phone, or the mobile phones in the room. Since normal text messaging is not available unless everyone pays for it, it would be nice if the app allows for simple in-app text messaging between guests who are within the family/friends circle. This would make the app a LOT more useful.

Another useful feature that I like to see is some sort of a "calendar" display of one's activities. Currently, if you put some activity on your Favorites, the activities for that day are displayed in a list. If you have only a few, this is not a problem, but if you have quite a few (which we had), then it is hard to see which ones are back-to-back, and which ones overlap. Having a display that clearly shows a "timeline" on when all the activities start and end will solve that, although I'm not sure how easy it is to be viewed on a phone screen. Currently, the app has been optimized only for the iPhone, not the iPad, so the display size might be an issue.

Last, but not least, it would be nice to be able to view the same info on the app way ahead in advanced of the cruise and on the web. We will at least know what activities will be available and can start planning on what we want to do. If we can plan 180 days in advanced for dinning at a WDW restaurant, the DCL should be able to display these activities well ahead of a cruise, rather than on the cruise day itself.

All in all, this was a useful app, and I can see a lot of possibilities for it. I am sure they'll improve it upon subsequent testing and feedback.


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