The ShipWatcher Blog

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.