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Find the perfect cruise

By Terry Gardner, Special to Tribune Newspapers

7:59 PM EDT, April 9, 2013

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Cruise! A Guide to Ships and Trips From SutroMedia by Anne Chalfant

$3.99 for iOS and Android

What it is: a comprehensive guide for everyone from the Baby Cruiser to an Old Salt. Helpful filters sort cruises based on price, pampering, and travel-oriented or Whale o' Fun ships. Itineraries include Alaska, the Arctic, Asia, Australia, the Baltic, Canada, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and the Panama Canal. "I wanted to give people the lowdown on everything from how cruise lines make money (and how you can save yours) to tips on getting the best cabin, the best ship for kids," author Chalfant said by email.

How it works: Browse cruises by category (from Affordable to Cultured Cruiser), by photos (from more than 1,100 images) or sort by filters (including Kid-Friendly Ships, River & Fjord Cruises, and What Savvy Sailors Know).

Why it's great: The app includes links to websites and social media handles that are helpful while getting to know a cruise line. The app attempts to cover almost any cruise I could imagine. Chalfant not only details rivers and fjord cruises, she even includes Real Journeys, an overnight cruise operator in New Zealand's Doubtful Sound, where I actually took my first cruise.

Why you might hesitate: The app doesn't work in landscape mode, but it's too perfect in portrait to pass up.

Pages

$9.99 for iOS

What it is: a word-processing app that allows users to create, edit and view documents on the fly on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Using iCloud, Pages automatically keeps documents up to date across devices.

How it works: After launch, you see your documents in the Document Manager. You can tap a document thumbnail to resume editing or hit the + sign in the top left corner to create a new document in a variety of formats.

Why it's great: The app offers 16 formats, including a blank page, a photo letter, a classic letter, a project proposal, a flier or an invitation. I love creating a document in Pages that can be exported as a Microsoft Word or PDF file. When used on my iPad with Retina display, the inserted graphics and photographs really pop. You can create, finalize and export documents that are ready for print. Pairing my iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard and Pages allows me to substitute my iPad for my laptop and travel lighter.

Why you might hesitate: You don't want to pay $9.99 for an app. I prefer apps priced from free to $4.99, but this app is truly worth the investment.

VisitNorway Official Travel Guide

Free for iOS and Android

What it is: an app from VisitNorway.com that puts Norway in the palm of your hand.

How it works: After launching the app, you can perform a Spotlight search for info on Bergen, Tromso, etc., or jump to "Where to stay," "What to do" or "What's On."

Why it's great: In Oslo, the app utilized my iPhone's GPS to provide directions to places of interest, including the Nobel Peace Center, the Munch Museum and Vulkan, a new cultural area with Oslo's first food hall. Though I was hunting the Northern Lights on a Hurtigruten cruise, the app has info about other ways to chase the Northern Lights, including on horseback or from Tromso's Nordnorsk Vitensenter planetarium.

Why you might hesitate: Because of the app's desire to use my phone's GPS to direct me, it obsessively points out that I'm not in Norway since I returned home. It is stuck on Oslo sights, because that was the last city I visited. Hopefully, an update will fix this glitch, because this is a must-have app for visiting Norway.

ctc-travel@tribune.com