The ShipWatcher Blog

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Fun with "Quick Pick"

Sometimes when you view the ShipWatcher page, some of the ships are in darkness.

A while ago, we fixed this by adding a "Quick Pick" facility which quickly selected a few ships close to sunrise or sunset. That way you could easily get rid of the ships in the night, and see something more interesting.

But then, if you came back again a few hours later, some of those ships would be in in darkness, and you'd have to click on "Quick Pick" again to get some new ships.

So I've added a new feature: When you click on "Quick Pick" now, you get asked if you'd like ShipWatcher to automatically do a quick pick every time you visit the site. This is handy because it means you ALWAYS get to see ships that are in daylight.

Please try it out and let me know if you find it helpful - I'm always looking for ways to make ShipWatcher better, and I appreciate any advice!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The latest news about cruising

If you want all the latest news about cruising, check out our latest "ShipWatcher News" ( section which gives you the most recent news from all over the world about recent happenings in the cruise industry.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Using Kites to Reduce Shipping Costs

The "MV Beluga Skysails" is a ship with a difference.
It sports a huge kite that can be unfurled upto 300 metre above the ship, helping it to reduce fuel bills by 20 percent.
The kite's manufacutrers, Skysails ( claim that the kite system can pay for itself in about three to five years, and is easily installed on any cargo ship.
The 135 metre long Beluga Skysails was launched on Saturday from Hamburg, and will be making a trans-atlantic crossing in early January.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bugs with some Costa ships fixed.

I fixed a bug which was causing problems when you tried to display Costa Ships Allegra, Concordia and Europa.

The bug prevented the webcams from being displayed for those ships.

It all works ok now.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Monday, December 10, 2007

New features: "Quick Pick" and "Show Videos"

I've added some new features:

1. Click on the "Quick Pick" button to quickly pick a few ships that are worth looking at. The system will choose ships close to either a sunrise or sunset. If there's any space left over, it will add in some ships that are in the middle of the day. This makes it easier for you to avoid picking ships that are in the dark - you can't see much at night!

2. Click on the "Hide Video" / "Show Video" button to toggle the display of videos at the bottom of the page. I've added a few timeplapse videos of ShipWatcher webcams down here. The selection changes depending on which ships you choose. If you don't like seeing the videos, just click on the "Hide video" button. ShipWatcher will remember your preference for next time.

If you've got any complaints or advice about these latest changes, please let me know. My main priority is to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Queen Victoria Webcam now online

I've added the webcam for Cunard's latest ship, Queen Victoria.

If you can't see it on the main page, just click on the [Preferences] button, select "Queen Victoria" from the "Cunard" section, and press SAVE.

I don't have her callsign at the moment. If anyone knows this, please let me know, because I can use this to get a location for the ship, give you tracking info, and take more meaningful photos.

Till then, please feel free to click away on the camera icon under QV so we can get some pictures of her.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Google Maps problem fixed

I've changed the way maps are displayed in ShipWatcher, to get around the recent problems that have been occurring with the Google Maps web site.

Rather than going to the Google Maps website, it now pops up a smaller window which shows the map.

If you've got any suggestions about how to make it better, please let me know.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Google Maps problem

You may experience difficulties when trying to display the position of a ship in Google Maps.

This is a known problem that the folks at Google Maps are aware of. I'm hoping they will fix it asap.

Here's the link if you're interested:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pacific Dawn Location

Pacific Dawn does not broadcast its position like most of the other ships, so it's difficult to figure out where it is.

But P&O does publish its last and next ports.

I've built in some intelligence into the system so that it will look at other ships who have travelled the same route, and work out an estimated location for Pacific Dawn.

It's only a rough guess, but I think it should be accurate to within about 100km.

Which means ShipWatcher should be able to take automatic photos of the Pacific Dawn webcam.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

New Cruiseline: Hurtigruten

I've added some ships from Hurtigruten (ASA) in Norway.

These ships are smaller than average, with lengths around 100m.

But they have some excellent cruisecams fore and aft, and give us a view of some beautiful landscapes around the Norwegian Coast.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bug Fixed: Photos of Pacific Dawn

There was a bug in the system that prevented people from taking photos of Pacific Dawn. I've fixed that bug, so you should be able to take photos now.

Unfortunately, I'm finding it difficult to get any reliable location info feeds for Pacific Dawn, so until I do that, the only photos that can get uploaded are those you take manually.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

New Powerful Search Option

Shipwatcher now lets you search for ships that are close to either Sunrise, Sunset, Noon or Midnight.

It also lets you show the most popular, and least popular ships.

The info is based on the latest position report of the ship. Some ships don't give position reports very frequently, so they won't be included in the search.

This should make it easier for you to quickly pick bridgecams that contain interesting content.

It's also more fun!



Technical info:
The search will exclude any position reports more than 4 days old.

If a ship is moving easterly or westerly, and its last report is 4 days old, the sunrise / sunset queries could have a margin of error of between 1 and 2 hours.

Usually this is only a problem for "Sunrise" queries where the ship is sailing west, or "Sunset" where the ship is sailing east, as in these situations, the ship will still be in darkness.

Allow a margin of error of almost 25 minutes per day based on the age of the location report. So if a report is two days old, the sunrise / sunset times will be out by almost an hour.

Ships travelling North / South won't experience such a large margin of error.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Faster! Faster!

I installed a Turbo Charger into ShipWatcher today.

It now runs much faster.

(Well actually, I just rewrote part of it to run faster. But "Turbo Charger" sounds better :) )

Sunday, November 4, 2007

New Cruiseline: Norwegian Cruise Line

I've added twelve ships from Norwegian Cruise Line to ShipWatcher.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

New "Preferences" button

There's a new "Preferences" button on the ShipWatcher page.

I had to do this, because I am continually adding more ships, and wanted an easy way for you to be able to control each ship that you see.

The "Preferences" page shows you all available ships, and lets you tick the ones you want to see. ShipWatcher will remember your preferences for next time.

New cruiseline: Carnvial

I've added Carnival Cruise Lines to Shipwatcher.

Although they have a lot of ships, I've only found 3 of them with webcams. The good news is that they have cameras fore and aft, so you can get a couple of views for each vessel.

Click on the "Preferences" button to select which ships you want to see.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

NEW SHIP: Pacific Dawn

Former Princess ship "Regal Princess" is being renamed "Pacific Dawn" and will now be part of the P&O Australia fleet.

Her webcam is online again, so I have updated the website to reflect these changes.

I am not getting any position reports for her at the moment. If anyone out there knows if her callsign has changed, please let me know.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

FIXED: Costa locations

The locations of Costa ships weren't showing up properly.

I've fixed the bug, so you should now be getting up to date locations for all Costa ships.

By the way, if any of the information looks wrong, please let me know and I'll get onto it right away.

Cruise Review - Pacific Star

We just got back from our cruise on Pacific Star.

You can read about it here:
Daily Log & Photos

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Improvements to Website

I'm planning to add a lot more cruise lines to ShipWatcher soon.

So I made some minor changes to the website to make it load faster.

The main difference you will notice is that you now have to actually click on the (info) icon to show info about the ship. Previously you could just hold your mouse over it to show the info, but that doubled the amount of data we had to transmit.

Reducing the amount of data we transmit makes the website load faster.

Please let me know if this adversely affects you in any way. I'd like to keep ShipWatcher fun for everyone, so I don't want minor changes that I make to detract from that!

Also, if you have any suggestions, please let me know. Just click on the "Comments" link at the bottom of this message.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Something old, Something new.

This is a mosaic photo of Pacific Star anchored off Lifou, New Caledonia.

Look closely and you will see thousands of little tiles.

The tiles in the photo are actual photos taken from the Cruise Cam of Pacific Star and Regal Princess.

Pacific Star will soon be retired from the P&O Australia fleet.

Regal Princess is a new addition, and will shortly be renamed "Pacific Dawn".

This is a tribute to the old and the new - they're both beautiful ladies of the sea for different reasons.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Montage for screensavers and wallpaper

Here's some montage arrangements of photos from QM2, QE2, Regal Princess, Pacific Sun and Pacific Star.

The original size is about 2100 x 1500 pixels, so they'll go well as desktop wallpaper or screen savers.

Please let me know what you think. If you've got any requests, let me know and I'll do up some more.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

New Cruiseline added: Costa

I've added Costa Cruises to ShipWatcher. Their ships have bridge and stern (front and back) webcams. So if you select Costa ships, you'll see two cams for each ship - one for the bow and one for the stern.

The feed from the Costa website is slower than the other sites. I'm sorry about this but there's nothing I can do about it. I have no direct link to raw data from the webcams like for Princess and P&O, which means all data from Costa webcams needs to be handled twice - once by our server and once by your browser. If you don't like the delays for the Costa pictures, just don't tick the Costa box on the company filter at the top right of the page. But it's worth the delay - I love the view of the ships wake from the aft cruiisecams.

I've also added an approximate location to all ships, so that you can get an idea of the ships location as at the time of its most recent location report. If you hold your mouse over the blue "i" icon, you can see the new "Approximate Location" entry for the ship. It reports on the closest official port to the ship. If you want to know the mathematics behind this, please let me know :)

Oh - one more thing, there are now 50 cruisecams online. To reduce the amount of time it takes to load the page, Costa is turned off by default. If you want to see Costa ships you need to tick the box on the top right of the screen. After you do this the first time, ShipWatcher will remember your preferences next time you visit.

If you have any advice on how I can improve ShipWatcher, please let me know.

Best wishes


P.S. You might be interested to know there are over 8,000 official ports in the ShipWatcher database. Initially, I had over 2.6 million towns and localities. I intended to tell you how far the ship was from the nearest town. The problem was that with so many cities, it took ages (over a minute) to compare the latitude / longitude of each city with that of the ship. It's much quicker (less than a second) to do a scan on all 8,000 ports instead.

Besides, cruise ships will never visit places like Alice Springs, Ulan Bator, Vienna, Salt Lake City, Asuncion, or Moscow because they're miles from the sea. :)

"The Alice Springs Cruise Terminal" - now that rings a bell...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fun New Gallery Feature

If you like the image that is appearing in one of the cruisecams on the ShipWatcher page at a specific time, you can now click on the camera icon () underneath the picture. This takes a snapshot of the ship, and lets you upload it to the Gallery.

If you want to be famous, you can leave your name, so we can credit you with the photo.

If you're shy, just leave the name blank, and we'll upload it anonymously.

This is really useful if you want to send a copy of a cruisecam picture to your friends, and don't have a publicly available place on the web where you can store pictures. Feel free to use it and link to the photos.

To prevent abuse, we've currently limited it to 3 photos per hour, to a max of 10 photos per day. If you don't think this is enough, please leave a comment and I'll increase the limits.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bugs, Fixes, Changes

  • I've added a comments link on the top right to make it easier for you to add comments.
  • I've added a list of relevant books from Amazon about cruising at the bottom right.
  • With the news items I've changed it so only the first bit of the news item has a clickable bit. When the whole line was clickable it was too blue :)
  • BUG: When you click on the MAP link it doesn't display the map properly. This is a bug in Flickr. We just have to wait till they fix it. Till then, try clicking on "Photos" then "Map". Or click the MAP link and then hit your browsers BACK button after you get rid of the error pop up. Sorry about this but there's nothing I can do about it.
  • The KML file for QM2 looked really strange because of a bug. I've fixed it :) Now when you view info about QM2 or look at her KML on Google Maps, it will appear properly.

Slideshows, Screensavers, Wallpaper!

I've modified the system to "GeoTag" the photos. What that means is that when you view the photo with Flickr you get the option to look on a map to see where the photo was taken. Older photos in the stream haven't been tagged. But all the newer ones have.

You can see a slideshow of recent photos from ShipWatcher here:

This screen saver seems to work well with Flickr photo streams:

This Desktop Wallpaper Changer (JBS), by John Conners will download the photo stream and update your desktop wallpaper:

If you use it, make sure you go into More Settings / General and reduce the minimum picture size to a smaller number (say 20) so that it pics up the webcam feeds (since they're smaller than 640 pixels wide). See the attached screenshot.

Leave your comments and ask questions HERE

If something on the ShipWatcher page isn't working properly...
or you have a question...
or just want to leave a comment....
please click on the "Post a comment" link at the end of any blog article.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Welcome to the ShipWatcher Blog

I've set this blog up to make it easier to let you know what's happening at and to make it easier for you to communicate with me. You don't need to be a member of blogger to leave a message.

I just wanted to let you know how much I love this project!

I write a lot of software. Some of it is pretty cool. I enjoy doing it, and I get paid for it.

But the ShipWatcher project is so much fun. I don't get paid a cent for it. It's a labor of love. And it works!

The latest fun thing I've added is the ShipWatcher picture feed.

Basically, the system looks at all the webcams every hour and "decides" which ones look like they might be interesting, and logs them. It's smart enough to know not to copy a photo at night time. It also avoids the middle of the day and tries to get in the early morning or late afternoon.

You can see the "Photo of the hour" at It uses the Flickr engine to store the photos, and tags by ship name, and company name. E.g. The Queen Elizabeth 2 is tagged as "Cunard" and as "Queen Elizabeth 2". Carribean Princess is tagged as "Princess" and "Carribean Princess".

If you've got a Flickr screensaver, tell it to download from the Flickr user: ShipWatcher. If you're only interested in one specific ship or cruise line, just specify that in the screen saver.

Have a look at for cool programs you can use to display Flickr photos as Screen savers and Desktop backgrounds.

Hope you enjoy it all.



P.S. I said I don't get paid for running this site, but I do have some unobtrusive ads on the site which I hope (eventually) might cover the website costs.