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Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 176
GCT Trips Taken: 13
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

October 25, 2013

Don't have either and think it's time to step into the present. For our next trip next summer,.I want to have either of the above.  Which do you have or which do you prefer?  All the GCT ships seem to have given up on available computers and gone to WiFi.  Will be doing the Great Rivers of Europe cruise.  Basically, I just want to receive and send emails home. Thanks for any suggestions.


Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 513
GCT Trips Taken: 12
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

October 25, 2013


There are other, less costly, alternatives to the Apple IPad and Iphone, primarily those based on the Android operating system, used by many companies. There are also Kindles from Amazon and Nooks from Barnes and Noble. There are both smart phones and tablets. I have had a Nexus 7 sold by Google since July and am quite happy with it, but I have not done international travel with it yet. I can do most things with it that I can do with my Windows laptop, but there is a learning curve to it. If you are already an Apple user, the learning curve for the Apple devices would definitely be shorter. If you are a Windows user, the learning curve for the Android might be shorter.

Both have hundreds, if not thousands of applications (Apps) available for them, a great many of them free and most of the rest quite resonable, with  many being added every day. Both types can be used as E-readers for both Amazon Kindle books and Nook books from B&N. Most have cameras and GPSs built in, although I would not abandon my digital comera for  the tablet capability,asthe tablets and phones have tiny lenses. The GPS integrates with mapping software, such as Googlee Maps, locating attractions in your area of travel. There are Apps that will locate wi-fi anywhere in the world, although the availablility varies greatly. If you want wider coverage, you will have to go with phone tecnology, 3G or 4G, over wi-fi, but it can get very expensive, but most phones will let you turn off the 3/4G in favor of wi-fi where it is available.

The "7" on my tablet refers to the diagonal measurement of the screen. Most phones are about 4 inches and many tablets, including the Ipad are about 10 inches. I believe that the Ipad mini is about 8 inches. A 7 inch screen is about 3 times the area of a 4 inch, 80% of the area of an 8 inch and half the area of a 10 inch. I have fairlly large hands and wwould find anything  larger than a 7 inch awkward.

When I do my trip report/blog of our Costa Rica trip in January, I will definitely have a major section on my Nexus. I will try to do the blog as I go, but time and tablet capabilities may restriict that to an outline of the final product. IMHO, a tablet will be a great tool for traveling with new devices and Apps coming out all  the time, and w-fi availablility growing. I have taken my laptop on our las 2 trip, but  it's size and relatively short battery life limited its usefulness.


Author: sealionlady

Joined: 8/1/2010
Posts: 127
Traveler Since: 2001

October 25, 2013

 I'm very happy with my Samsung tablet.  I use it for email, checking my favorite websites, as a Kindle, and for photography.  I'm not very good at the latter and really don't care to take a lot of pics, and the tablet fulfills my needs .... and it's so easy.  

As for the Kindle, I downloaded the Kindle app, some free books and a few others.  Every day Amazon has "Daily Deals", low cost Kindle specials ..... check it out!   



Author: kristenc

Joined: 4/26/2012
Posts: 71
Countries Visited:

Europe, Russia

Traveler Since: 2012

October 25, 2013

I plan to purchase the new iPad Mini with Retina Display prior to my next trip. I want to download some Rick Steves tours before I go, and despite the price, I am going with the Apple product with WiFi.

Author: avalarue

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 70
Traveler Since: 2008

October 25, 2013

I bought a 10" Gateway mini computer to take with me on our trips. It's lightweight, easy to navigate through security, and I can do email or Facebook on it, plus download my photos daily and edit them as we go. I've been using it for four years and see no need to try something new.

Author: tpreminger

Joined: 5/14/2011
Posts: 47
GCT Trips Taken: 3
OAT Trips Taken: 3
Traveler Since: 1999

October 25, 2013

 I, too, have a Nexus 7.  It's takes a little getting use to as it's VERY sensitive, but it certainly comes in handy.  I find it works best if I place it on a hard surface, instead of holding it.

There's LOTS of information on the Internet to "walk" someone through the various apps, widgets, and icons.

Thanks to nanaandpapa's post I downloaded a free wi fi finder app this afternoon.  

Author: tickledpink

Joined: 9/10/2013
Posts: 49
Countries Visited:

Rhine & Danube Christmas markets cruises, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, UK, Ireland, most of Western Europe, Scandinavia, Leningrad no-visa cruise from Helsinki in '78, Hawaii, Alaska, NYC, Florida, Seattle, Arizona & Utah national parks, Sedona and North Dakota.

Traveler Since: 1995

October 26, 2013

The iPad2 was introduced right before my Crossroads of Turkey trip in 2011. I got the 64 gig with WiFi and it's a great tool to travel with. It was also backup for my photo files, but since I now have a D7100 with 24 mp, it won't hold all my raw files! So I have plenty of SD cards to travel with, being such a shutter bug!

If you plan on using an iPhone at home, go for it, but you can also buy an unlocked phone and get an international SIM card. I went with Telestial's Smart Android phone to travel with. It can also be a WiFi hotspot for the iPad. Buying data is expensive, though. For me, a lot depends on the availability of WiFi on the River Concerto. Does anyone have any current experience of the on-board WiFi speed? I plan on using it to check email and post to my blog every couple of days.

Don't forget than an iPod Touch is a great alternative to the iPhone, however I prefer the size of the iPad to interact with! MUCH easier to see and type on.

All I can say is, if you're a Mac person, Apple products are a no-brainer but the Android tablets are also great and cheaper. Whatever, be aware of the data costs if you're hooked into ATT or some of the others - sign up for international roaming for a better rate.

Author: musicmajor

Joined: 7/13/2012
Posts: 18
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2005

October 27, 2013

 Something to keep in mind.  iPhones come with contracts and monthly charges ($$).  However they also come with "G's", meaning that web surfing, etc. can be done when no wi-fi is available.  I agree with the person who suggested that an iPhone is overkill unless you want the phone function for the US.  They are snazzy, and if I weren't so cheap, I'd have one for sure.


Instead, I have an iPad Mini, which I love.  It is lightweight, very very easy to use, and perfect for e-mail, web browsing (with wi-fi only, since I bought the cheaper version with no "G's"), the wonderful apps (like the Metro app that we recently used in Paris), and it even takes great photos.  And if you have friends and family with iPads, you can use it for free (and extremely easy to use) "Facetime" chats.


My bottom line suggestion is to go to an Apple store, if possible, and talk to one of the very helpful sales people.  Mine talked me out of the larger iPad and into the smaller iPad Mini.  Grrrrreat decision (but we are 100% Apple people, so an i-Something was a given).

Author: margaretco

Joined: 4/30/2013
Posts: 3
GCT Trips Taken: 3
OAT Trips Taken: 1
Countries Visited:

Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Italy, England, Scotland, Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia

Traveler Since: 2012

October 27, 2013

 I took an iPod touch on my first trip (Eastern Europe to the Black Sea) as I had to work during my vacation.  It worked great, but the screen is agonizingly small for typing - it is close in size to the iPhone (which I also have but haven’t traveled out of the country with).  Last year, I purchased the iPad mini, and I love it!  I took it on this year’s trip (Essence of the Elbe) and it was perfect. There are many, many great free apps (as well as some that are worth paying for).  Some of my favorites are travel apps (hear planet and packing) but others are great entertainment for the flight - I put together several virtual jigsaw puzzles on the way to Amsterdam. With a separate adapter, I was also able to download and label my pictures during the trip. Size wise, The IPad mini is easy to cart around in either a shoulder bag or backpack.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 425
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

October 27, 2013

I'm a "Windows person", having had four desk top computers and three laptop computers using a variety of Windows operating systems. A couple of years ago I bought an iPad2, primarily for travel. It is great for communicating via email (free WiFi is available almost everywhere). It is adequate for taking notes for my journals. And I download a couple of books for each trip so I can read during "down times". I took one tour with my 17" HP Pavilion. It was very handy, but a real pain in the neck to lug around. The next trip I took the First Mate's 15" HP Notebook. A little better but still a hassle. The iPad was a dream by comparison.

I also have a Samsung Galaxy sIII phone with Android operating system, but I do not have a card for international use. I can use it internationally by paying exorbitant roaming and data fees, but the iPad makes that unnecessary.

Now that Windows-based tablets are available, I will probably have one when I have to replace the iPad. Like I said, I am a "Windows person".

Author: drgreghicks@hotm...

Joined: 12/28/2013
Posts: 1

December 30, 2013

I think it depends primarily on what you want the device to do.  If you want something to read and/or surf the web while you are on board, the IPad is a great, but pricey choice.   It has a camera, but it a bit bulky for that purpose.  I think a Kindle Fire or Nook would serve you well as a reader for a fraction of the price.  If you want to make calls or texts while you are away, the IPhone would be a great choice.  The latest generation IPhones also make very good pictures.  Personally, I prefer Android devices and carried my Samsung S4 Active smartphone with me on the Christmas Markets on the Rhine cruise (River Melody) earlier this month.  It makes terffic pictures - better than many cameras.  My service in the United States is with AT&T (full disclosure - I work for AT&T) and their phones work in most of Europe as is.  I purchased an international call plan ($30 for 30 minutes) and text plan ($30 for 200 outbound texts - inbounds are included on my regular text plan) from AT&T before leaving and turned off the data roaming as data is very expensive.  I used only the WiFi from the ship and hotspots in the cities visited to surf the web and check email.  The WiFi on the ship (River Melody) was very poor in Switzerland and France, but very good in Germany.  If a smartphone large enough to use as a reader as well is what you need, maybe take a look at the Samsung Note.  It does it all and is a super device.

Author: pamvaughan11

Joined: 6/17/2012
Posts: 16
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

China twice, Japan, SE Asia, England and Ireland multiple times, other European countries, Guatemala twice, East Africa.

Traveler Since: 2012

December 31, 2013

 I prefer just to take my IPhone although for people with poor vision, it might not be a good option for checking their email. When I travel, I always think "small and lightweight." I can just put the smartphone in my pocket wherever I go. I like the translator and dictionary apps, so I can just whip it out when needed in a store or restaurant. Or if I don't have my camera with me, I can just take the phone out of my pocket for easy use. There was a time when we traveled with no electronics whatsoever! On my last trip, there was a woman who used her IPad to take all her photos. She certainly stood out as a tourist. Definitely not my style.


Author: waltercorrigan

Joined: 3/30/2014
Posts: 3
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 0

March 30, 2014

We're taking our iPhones (Lee has a 3 and I have a 4S). We use them for lots of pictures and I use mine also for email and facebook to keep in touch.  We're thinking of getting minutes for our time in Europe, but the listed plans only show from the US TO Europe and not the other way around.  Can anyone comment on this?  I'm also taking my Nook with three new books to read, but mostly on the 10 hour flights from and to the States. I can also use it for email, web surfing and facebook, but it's a little clunky doing that.

Walter Corrigan

Author: retirement

Joined: 7/30/2012
Posts: 12
Traveler Since: 2006

March 30, 2014

I use an iPod Touch 16G.  It does everything I would ever need to have.  Regardless of how far away we travel, we can do our  email, and any internet activity as long as there is Wi-Fi  available.   I like the size of the iPod, as I can easily carry it in my purse, or put it in a pocket.  Other than for email, my main use is to download books so I always have something to listen to.  The other devices available seem a bit complicated to set up and use, frankly, a bit scary.  So that’s why I chose the iPod.   Of course you can buy whatever you like, and make a batch of cookies and invite one of the grandkids over, they’ll have you all set up in a matter of minutes.

Author: ajilimojil

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 9
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Traveler Since: 2002

March 31, 2014

I have an iPad and will bring it on our cruise to the Netherlands (leaving in 5 days, woohoo!).  

However, could someone clarify whether there are actual PCs on board the river ships?  Just in case something goes wrong.  Also, hubby likes to check his stuff and it would be nice if we both could do it independently. 



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