The best ship tracking apps you can use in the UK (top 4)

Ship tracking is one of those activities which seems a bit weird until you try it for yourself. Particularly if you live near the sea, if you download a ship tracking app we're pretty sure that you'll very quickly find yourself checking the app frequently to see what ships are passing you by, and the journeys that those ships are on.

Despite seeming like quite a niche activity, there are millions of people around the world who enjoy tracking ships. For this reason, there are quite a few ship tracking apps to choose from. We wanted to round up the best to download from either the Google Play Store or the App Store, based on our experiences and third-party reviews. Let's get into it:


With more than 1 million downloads from the Google Play Store, Marine Traffic is probably the biggest and most popular ship tracking app in the world. And having tried the app, we think this reputation is probably deserved - the app was pretty simple to use and gave some really interesting information about ships which some of the other apps didn't provide, all for free too. You can scroll through the map if you know what you're looking for, or you can use the really helpful search function to find specific vessels, ports, or even lighthouses. The app claims to have the largest network of coastal AIS receivers, and we have to say that this app certainly seemed to display more ships than any other app we used. The app also displays vessel positions via satellite, and you can access information about the vessels picked up via satellite by paying £0.99 for access to that information. Our one complaint would probably be that the adverts within the app were quite intrusive, which wasn't always the case with some of the other ship tracking apps we tried. Learn more and download it for Google Play Store here and the App Store here.
MarineTraffic app


The MyShipTracking app is another ship tracking app with an excellent free version - as you can see from the screenshot, lots of ships are tracked on the map and you get the name of the ship as well as the destination in a little pop up. But if you actually click on the information bubble, you get even more information which you might expect to only find in a premium version of the app. The information includes exact position info including longitude and latitude, as well as the speed that the ship is moving at, and lots more information. If you create an account with the app (which is also free), you can get real-time notifications about when ships are departing and arriving. There is also a really nice search function within the app which allows you to search for specific vessels and ports if you don't know where to find them on the app. We're really impressed with the free version of MyShipTracking, download it from the App Store here.

ShipTracking app

Boat Watch

Another free app with a paid version is Boat Watch, which had some really nice features included within the free version. As you can see from the map, the app will display the boats in different colours and shapes depending on what type of boat it is. If you click the on the boat you'll get the name of it and the journey it is on, but if you want any more information about the boat you'll have to download the paid version of the app. It's only £4.99 for the paid version, and it includes ship tracking and alerts for when boats arrive and depart if you want to get very detailed. Download it from the Google Play Store here and the App Store here.

Ship Finder Lite

The 'lite' version of Ship Finder might not be as fully fleshed out as the paid version of the app, but there is still plenty to play with within the free version of the app.
The paid version of the app is really impressive, with some cool features like being able to switch between Apple or Google maps depending on which you prefer, and also having the ability to filter out different types of boats to only display the types that you want to see (for example, if you only want to see Tankers on the map then it's very easy to do that). It's £4.99 for the app which is in line with the price we've found for a number of paid ship tracking apps. Download it from the App Store here.
Ship Finder Lite

Hopefully, this guide inspires you to download an excellent ship tracking app and start tracking ships in your area and beyond. Let us know if you've tried any of these and if so, what you think of them. 

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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