Google and Bing Map User Guide
Thinking about planning a cruise vacation?
When you travel on vacation by plane, train, bus, or car:
This network is designed to facilitate independent travel by providing many sources of information including directions, maps, signs, and route markers along the way.
- You never know where you are and
- Independent travel is not easy because cruise ports are often in remote areas “outside” the network and infrastructure of train and bus stations, rental car agencies, etc
How to use Google and Bing Maps
In the US, every building has a unique street address; Google and Bing maps point to the correct location.
However, there are many sites that do NOT have a street address:
Monuments, parks, scenic overlooks in the mountains, and many tourist sites do NOT have a street address.
Cruise ship docks/berths do NOT have a street address. If you use “93 Berth, San Pedro, California 90731” to search Google Maps, Google will point to the wrong location, a dock 1.3 miles from berth 93.
When a site does not have a street address, try searching Google Maps using the name of the site.
Enter the name of a city/province(state)/country. Google and Bing will find any city in the world. Searching by name works well for airports, train stations, famous landmarks, and many tourist sites. For example, search maps for “Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy”. The map points to that location and provides a lot of useful tourist information.
However, there are problems searching for tourist sites by name.
Names might not be unique. The “same name” may be used for different points of interest.
There may be “different names” for one point of interest. The site might have an “official” name and several “common” names. In the Greek Isles, tourist sites are often named in ancient Greek, old Greek, traditional Greek, etc. using entirely different words to describe the same location. Google and Bing maps might not find the location or point to the wrong location.
Cruise ship terminals are difficult to find. If you search for “QEII Cruise Terminal, Southampton, UK”, Google maps point to “Ocean Terminal” one mile from “QEII Cruise Terminal. Microsoft Bing points to the center of Southampton 1.4 miles from “QEII Cruise Terminal”.
GPS coordinates solve ALL the problems of searching maps by street address or by name.
Advantages of GPS coordinates:
- Precise location of any point on planet earth whether it is on the city streets, in the remote mountains, or in the middle of the ocean.
- Google and Microsoft Bing maps ALWAYS find the exact location for GPS coordinates.
- GPS is the perfect, easiest, and 100% reliable way to find anything on Google or Bing maps.
The GPS data is saved in the photo EXIF file and can be read using photo editing software.
1) Open Google Maps,
2) Right click anywhere on the map.
I right clicked on Vatican Museums in Rome.
3) Select “what's here” from the menu,
4) A window will appear showing GPS coordinates. Photo below. Note that the GPS coordinates are shown as 41.906659, 12.453497
Click on the GPS coordinates. A window appears on the top left of your computer screen showing Google coordinates in an alternate format as
41°54'23.9"N 12°27'12.6"E Photo below
1) Open Bing Maps,
2) Right click anywhere on the map.
I right clicked on the Vatican Museums in Rome.
3) A menu will appear as shown at right.
4) Select “Directions to”, or “Directions from" or “Add to route”.
5) Vatican Museums will now be shown on the map as a letter such as “A”, or “B” because it is now part of a travel route.
6) Right Click on the letter “A” or “B” and select “Show details” from the menu.
7) A window will appear showing the GPS coordinates.
That window is shown at far right.
Bing shows the GPS Coordinates for Vatican Museums as
Google and Bing maps reported different GPS coordinates for Vatican Museums.
The person designing the map selects the GPS coordinates for the Vatican Museums.
I would have selected a different location.
The map at left shows three different GPS coordinates for Vatican Museums in Rome. Tom's GPS = 41.907006, 12.453346 Google's GPS = 41.906659, 12.453497 Bing's GPS = 41.904518, 12.45477
Tom's GPS: I want a location facing the Vatican Museums entrance so I can map a walking route and use Google street-view photos to see the entrance and recognize it as I walk to the museums.
Google's GPS: Google points inside the entrance to the museum. It's a good location, but it's not on the street.
Bing's GPS: I can't figure out why Bing chose these GPS coordinates. It's a parking lot next to the museums.
Street Level photos = an incredibly powerful feature of digital maps
Unfortunately, Bing maps have limited coverage of many world tourist sites.
To access the Google street-level photos, drag the “little yellow man” icon from the lower right corner of Google maps and place it on top of “Tom's GPS”, rotate the street view with your mouse and you will see the entrances to the Vatican Museums. Photo below.
- If you are renting a car, pick GPS coordinates for the parking lots in the cities you wish to visit so that you don't have to waste time looking for a place to park.
- If you are walking, select GPS coordinates on the street in front of the entrances to the museums, churches, etc. you plan to visit so that your map will direct you to the front entrance of the building.
- If you are taking a train, pick the coordinates for the entrance to the station.
- If your are riding a bus or the metro, pick the coordinates for stops you will use.
Study Google's street-level photos, to:
become familiar with the area,
so you will recognize it as though you had been there before, and
can travel independently with knowledge and confidence to visit tourist sites.
Different formats for GPS Coordinates
Decimal Degrees 41.906659, 12.453497
Both Google and Bing maps accept this for input data and they output data in this format.
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds 41°54'23.9"N 12°27'12.6"E
Both Google and Bing maps accept this for input data.
Google Maps also use this as a format for output data.
How to enter these GPS coordinates into Google and Bing maps
Copy and paste the coordinates from a document or website into the map search box for Google or Bing maps.
You can also type the coordinates into the map search box for Google maps. This does not work for Bing maps.
When typing Degrees, Minutes, and Seconds into maps, replace special characters for degrees, minutes and seconds with spaces:
Example: GPS Coordinates of 41°54'23.9"N 12°27'12.6"E are typed into the map as 41 54 23.9 n 12 27 12.6 e
Create your personal tour route, and
Measure distance and travel time for walking, car, bus travel, etc.
My port guides can help you "jump start" your planning process. In the last seven years, I have written
57 Guides that contain 1541 Pages, 788 Maps, and 1405 Photos. My guides are packed with GPS coordinates and are designed to help you plan your travel routes and create your own maps.
The example below uses information from Part I of my Cork-Cobh-Ringaskiddy Ireland Cruise Port Guide.
51.84911, -8.298695 Cruise ship dock, Heritage Center, Train Station
51.849724, -8.294778 Remains of wood dock where the last passengers boarded the Titanic at White Star Office
51.850361, -8.295111 Lusitania Memorial in the center of Cobh Town
51.852612, -8.295639 “Deck of Cards”- 23 colorful houses, "postcard photo" on steeply inclined West View street
51.851528, -8.294473 St Coleman's Catholic Cathedral - a MUST VISIT
51.84911, -8.298695 Return to Cruise ship dock
Open Google Maps in one window and this web-page in a second window. Copy and paste the first set of GPS coordinates (for the cruise ship dock) into Google Maps and press enter.
Click on Directions. A new window appears. Google assumes the location we entered was the destination for our route.
Click on the up/down arrow to make the location our starting point. A new window will appear.
Enter coordinates for the 2nd stop on the route, press the enter key.
Click on + sign.
Enter the coordinates for the 3rd stop on the route and repeat until all coordinates are entered.
See photos below.
The walking tour route map at right appears.
Be sure to click on the walking man icon at the top of the blue menu. You could chose a travel route by car, bus (if local buses service the area) or walking. Google also often shows a travel route by bicycle.
This walking route takes 20 minutes and is 1.5 km (0.9 miles).
Google changes the name of the GPS Coordinates for the cruise ship dock from 51.84911, -8.298695 to the name of the road “Westbourne Pl, Cobh, Co. Cork, Ireland”.
Google uses names of streets and nearby points of interest on route maps.
The “Deck of Cards” is renamed to “Cobh Medical Center” because it is near the medical center.
“St Coleman's Catholic Cathedral” becomes the “Rock Cottage” on the Google route map.
I have added text to the route map to show where to click for Earth or Map view and the location of the “little yellow man” icon for Street Photos.
Use Google street-level photos to “preview" your walking tour
Click on the left-facing white arrow in the menu on the photo to return to the map route. Change the map view to “earth”. Enlarge the section of the map to view the second stop on the walking route (photo below left).
You can see the walking route along the streets as a series of light blue dots.
Note: the 2nd stop on our route is NOT on the street.
Google is smart enough to recognize this stop is off the public road and shows a dashed line to the correct location of the 2nd stop.
Unfortunately, Bing maps show the wrong location for the 2nd stop. Bing does NOT show off-road locations on route maps. Bing changes the location of the GPS coordinates to show the nearest location on the public road.
The 2nd stop is behind the White Star ticket office, near the wood dock where passengers boarded a boat to take them to the ill-fated Titanic anchored in the harbor.
I have also marked up the map to highlight the 3rd stop on our walking route – the Lusitania Memorial in the center of Cobh Town.
Switch back to the route map and drag the “little yellow man” icon onto the 4th stop which Google names “Cobh Medical Centre” because it is near the Medical Center. This location is called the “Deck of Cards” because it is the top of a hill looking down a steep incline on West View Street at 23 colorful houses. It's a postcard photo opportunity.
See the Google street level photo below.
Many people walk up West View Street from the Lusitania Memorial to take photos of the houses and the harbor.
St Coleman's Catholic Cathedral is the last stop on the walking tour. It's a must-visit site. For a stunning virtual tour inside and outside see http://www.cobhcathedralparish.ie/tour/
If you are mobility challenged or an old guy like me, you may want to know how high this hill is so you can decide whether you have the energy to walk up West View Street to the "Deck of Cards".
Fortunately, Google has a separate Earth Map program that can measure elevation above sea level to determine the change in grade as you walk up West View Street.
Measuring elevation above sea level to judge the difficulty of walking up steep streets. This is important for mobility challenged people.
The problem is there are dozens of websites that “pretend” to be a Google website offering free downloads of Google software. Many of these websites contain malicious software that can infect your computer.
To avoid problems, ALWAYS download Google software from a genuine Google website
You will find the Google Earth map program to “Explore the world from your computer” listed under “Geo” on this Google web-page at http://www.google.com/about/products/
When you move your mouse around, the cursor location is shown as a white gloved-hand.
The elevation above sea level at the cursor is shown at the bottom right corner of the map.
Enter the GPS coordinates for the “Deck of Cards into the Google Earth map 51.852612, -8.295639
Move the cursor on top of the yellow tack at the GPS coordinates. The elevation above sea level is 171 feet.
Enter the GPS coordinates for the Lusitania Memorial into the Google Earth map 51.850361, -8.295111
Move the cursor on top of the yellow tack at the GPS coordinates. The elevation above sea level is 50 feet.
Walking up West View street to the Deck of Cards is an elevation change of 121 feet.
That's like climbing a 12-story building.
See the photos below.
If you are concerned about walking up this steep street, consider walking the switch-back roads to the Cathedral and then walking over to the “Deck of Cards”. Another option is to take the little red train tour of Cobh from the White Star ticket office. The train travels everywhere, stops for photos, and offers a “stress-free” way to ascend the hills for great views of the harbor and most of the sites in the town.
Viewing a point of interest on road, terrain, aerial, and earth maps.
Here are GPS coordinates for places we stopped in the mountains:
N 37°50'22.1", W 25°47'42.6" Monte Palace - top of mountain view of Sete Cidades
N 37° 50' 48.348", W 25° 46' 6.84" Road side stop to photograph Lagoa de Santiago
N 37° 51' 13.698", W 25° 46' 33.642" Road side stop of Lagoa Verde (green) and Logoa Azul (blue) lakes
N 37°51′18.8″, W 25°47′10.3″ View from the road of the bridge that crosses between the lakes
N 37° 51' 46.842", W 25° 47' 48.912" Village of Sete Cidades
N 37° 52' 16.326", W 25° 50' 28.05" Ponta do Escalvado - Seacoast Lookout
Copy and paste the GPS coordinates from the table above into Google maps.
A window appears in the upper left corner of the map. Shown at left.
This travel route is 14.4 km and takes a minimum of 25 minutes. Our guide stopped everywhere for photos so it took a lot longer than 25 minutes.
Google renamed all of the GPS coordinates.
For example, 9-1 142, Portugal is the new name for
N 37°50'22.1", W 25°47'42.6"
Note the menu on the upper left corner shown as three horizontal lines.
Click on the menu and the choices appear as shown at left below.
I clicked on Terrain and the map below right appeared.
Click on Earth and the map changes to earth view as shown below left
Google maps provide an incredible range of options to view and explore the mountains of the Azores. I encourage you to change the magnification to examine the detail, view the area as a road map, a terrain map, and an earth map. Drag the “little yellow man” icon onto the map to see the street photos of these incredibly beautiful mountains and the caldera.
The case for using Google and Bing maps to plan vacation travel.
Paper maps are OK, but they're fixed; you can't change them.
Digital maps are incredibly powerful for planning your vacation offering many features that make it easy to personalize, plan, and preview your vacation travel:
List points of interest you wish to visit. Find them on Google and Bing maps and record the GPS coordinates.
Create route maps for your travel showing stops along the route, distance and travel time. Use street level photos to preview the walking or driving routes and to inspect stops at key tourist sites
Become familiar with the sites you plan to visit so that you can travel independently with knowledge and confidence.
Save your maps to your tablet and print out paper copies to carry with you.
Planning doesn't get much better or easier and you can do it from the comfort of your home using your computer.
I hope this information is helpful and wish you a great cruise vacation.