This is the ShipCruise.org cruise tracker page. Here you will also learn some interesting stuff about tracking cruise ships at sea as AIS ship tracking technology and fun facts. Not all cruise ships in the world are listed and linked here – some of the big ship cruise lines and many smaller ships are still missing. Still, this is one of the best Web places to start a cruise search on all major lines, with new ships being added on a regular basis. You can also see the complete list of all the new cruise ships currently under construction.
Our cruise ship tracker idea is actually a set of links redirecting to articles. Each of them contains detailed itinerary information, complete sailing schedule, cheapest cruise prices PP and current position of the cruise ship you’re interested in. This is an unique opportunity to see on a single page a cruise tracker combined with all dates, ports of call, cheapest rates, and many links to related articles.
Cruise Ship Tracking
AIS ship tracking systems have been dramatically changed after the implementation of Automated Identification System (AIS). Tracking cruise ships as current location became possible after AIS became mandatory for all commercial ships with tonnage above 300GT, and also for all cruise passenger ships and marine vessels carrying hazardous materials. The low cost of AIS-receiving equipment ($200-$500) helped huge number of radio-amateurs, ship spotters and enthusiasts to purchase and install home-based AIS stations. Almost all of them stream their data to one or more web based (cruise) ship trackers or just exchange their data for other feeds. Live cruise ship tracking is possible because all passenger cruise ships are equipped with AIS transponders. When the cruise ship is in the zone of AIS coverage, you may track it via one of the listed below free ship tracker portals. Since 2002, all new commercial (cargo and passenger/cruise) ships over 300 GT (gross tons) have been required to have AIS transponders installed in order to operate. The requirements for marine vessels built before 2002 have been gradually phased in. Each ship AIS system consists of:
- 1x transmitter (VHF)
- 2x TDMA receivers (“Time Division Multiple Access”, VHF)
- 1x DSC receiver (“Digital Selective Calling”, VHF)
- electronic communications links (standard digital interfaces for ships/marine vessels): IEC 61162 (for navigational devices within a ship) and NMEA 0183 (for communications between the ship’s electronic equipment – autopilot, GPS/satellite receivers, gyrocompass, sonars,etc.)
- 1x GNSS receiver (“Global Navigation Satellite System”) for precise coordinates (position) in coastal/inland waters.
- Generally, AIS transponders work in an autonomous mode, regardless of whether the cruise ship is in the open seas or cruising in coastal/inland waters.
AIS live ship tracking system explained
Ship AIS systems transmit data encoded on 2 VHF channels at frequency 161,975 MHz and 162,025 MHz. An AIS transmission uses 9,6 kb (kilobites per second) GMSKFM (“Gaussian Minimum Shift Keying Frequency Modulation”) and HDLC (“Highlevel Data Link Control”) packet/group protocols. Transmissions are over 25 kHz or 12,5 kHz VHF channels.
In order all marine vessels to be able to share these 2 channels, each cruise ship transmits during one of 2250 time-slots (established each minute). These two channels provide redundancy and proper level of protection from interference. Typical transmission range is 20 nautical miles (23 ml/37 km). You can read a lot more about AIS (Automatic Identification System) at this Wikipedia link.
An AIS transponder would receive data from the ship’s other navigational devices. The cruise ship position, course, speed is provided by its GPS. The cruise ship’s officers are required to enter information such as the ship’s name, type, dimensions, itinerary, ETA (estimated time of arrival), rate of turn, pitch and roll angle, etc. All moored/anchored ships are also required to transmit their position at least every 3 min. Cruise ships moving at up to 14 kn (16 mph/26 kph) must transmit their position every 10 sec, those moving at up to 23 kn (26,5 mph/42,6 kph) – every 6 sec, and if moving at faster speeds – every 2 sec. Static ship data (name, itinerary/destination, ETA) is transmitted separately every 6 min.
Satellite AIS ship tracking
AIS was created in the 1990s as short range identification, high intensity tracking network. At the time, it wasn’t expected to be space-detectable. Nevertheless, various organizations have been experimenting to detect AIS transmissions by the use of satellite-based receivers since 2005. Later on, since 2008, some companies such as ORBCOMM, Spacequest, exactEarth, and government programs have unrolled AIS receivers on satellites.
TDMA radio access, which is used by AIS, creates considerable technical issues for reliable receiving of AIS messages from any type of transceivers: AtoN, SART, Identifier, Class A and Class B. However, AIS ship tracking industry is trying to address the issues through developing new technologies. Over the next years the restriction of AIS satellite tracking systems to messages of Class A is likely to improve with the addition of Identifier and Class B messages.
Nowadays, exactEarth (Canada) operates AIS ship tracker via satellite network which is the largest. It provides global coverage by all 5 satellites. ExactEarth is also involved in the progress of ABSEA technology. It is expected to enable their satellite network to detect a high proportion messages of Class B, as well as of Class A. ORBCOMM is launching additional 17 satellites, as part of its “Generation 2” satellite replacement. It will carry AIS receivers, and download at the 16 existing ORBCOMM’s earth stations around the globe.
Satellite AIS vessel tracking news and updates
- July 14, 2014 (from Cape Canaveral, Florida) – ORBCOMM launched the first six satellites OG2 aboard Spacex Falcon 9 rocket. Each OG2 satellite transports an AIS receiver payload. The 6 satellites OG2 were deployed into orbit successfully and started sending telemetry soon after launch. This will provide ORBCOMM’s largest constellation with eight AIS-equipped satellites, which includes the two satellites VesselSat built by Luxspace.
- February 25, 2013 – Aalborg University launched AAUSAT3 – a 1U cubesat, 800 grams, solely created by students from the Department of Electronic Systems, which carries 2 AIS receivers – a SDR based and a traditional receiver. This project, sponsored by Danish Safety Maritime Organisation, has been a huge success. During the first 100 days it has downloaded over 800000 AIS messages as well as several 1MHz raw samples of radio signal. AAUSAT3 receives both AIS channels together and has received class A and class B receivers. The cost of the project is lower than €200.000.
- late 2011 – early 2012 – Luxspace and ORBCOMM launched two Vesselsat AIS microsatellites, the one of which in an equatorial, and the other in polar orbit.
- July 12, 2010 – Successful launch into polar orbit of AISSat-1 satellite (Norway). The purpose was to improve observation of maritime activities in High North. This AISSat-1 is nano-satellite, which measures only 20x20x20 cm, and has an AIS receiver created by Kongsberg Seatex. Its weight is six kilograms, the shape is like a cube.
- May, 2010 – The European Space Agency is testing an AIS receiver (Kongsberg Seatex, Norway) for space-based ship monitoring – the first step towards AIS-monitoring satellite-based service.
- November 2009 – Mission STS-129 space shuttle successfully attached two antennas – AIS VHF and Amateur Radio antenna to the ISS Columbus module. Both antennas were made in cooperation between ESA and the Amateur Radio on ISS (ARISS).
- July 2009 – SpaceQuest launched successfully AprizeSat-3 and AprizeSat-4, equipped with AIS receivers able to receive in 2010 the SART test beacons of U.S. Coast Guard off of Hawaii. In July 2010, exactEarth (Canada) and SpaceQuest announced an arrangement in order the data from AprizeSat-3 and AprizeSat-4 to be incorporated into exactEarth system and made worldwide-available as part of the exactAIS(TM)service.
- 2008 – ORBCOMM, in conjunction with US Coast Guard, launched AIS enabled satellites to demonstrate the capability to collect AIS messages from space. Luxspace (Luxembourg) launched RUBIN-9.1 satellite in 2009 (AIS Pathfinder 2).
- 2007 – the U.S.A. tested space-based AIS tracking with TacSat-2 satellite. The received signals were spoiled because of the simultaneous receipt of a large number of signals.
At ShipCruise.org as data source we use the database of the VesselFinder ship tracker. We show the exact location/current position of each cruise ship reviewed at our site. When tracking cruise ships at sea at ShipCruise.org, along with their current positions, you will also be provided with detailed itinerary information. The “cruise package” also includes complete sailing schedule (all departure dates and port times) along with cheapest cruise prices on currently available for booking voyages.
Note: In the tables below, each of the ship-links will redirect you to their individual pages (itinerary-schedule-prices comparison and information).
You can share, like and rate our cruise tracker links collection via the social buttons. remember to visit us again soon as new big and small cruise ships are being added here on a daily basis. Enjoy your charge-free cruise ship tracker fun while ashore, and many happy days at sea – from ShipCruise.org!