Posted on Sunday, December 16, 2012 by Peter Knego
At 702 pages, Berlitz’ Complete Guide To Cruising and Cruise Ships 2013 is an opus work by industry veteran Douglas Ward, who has been rating cruises for some 45 years.
Available for USD $24.99 or UK £17.99 at www.berlitzpublishing.com, the guide includes reviews of 284 ocean-going passenger ships that span the gamut from the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SEA LION to the ALLURE OF THE SEAS. The reviews are subjective and while everyone’s experience with each ship may vary (for instance I felt the NG SEA LION deserved a better rating than one + stars out of five), Ward has done a remarkable job in gathering and systematically presenting key data on so many ships.
The author offers detailed and often candid criticism in addition to listing the facts. For instance, in his description of NORWEGIAN SKY, he states, “The hustling for passengers to attend art auctions is aggressive and annoying, as is the constant bombardment for daily activities and the daily junk mail that arrives at one’s cabin door.”
A particularly nice thing for ship lovers about reading Ward’s descriptive text is his appreciation for the actual look and style of the ships he reviews. With regard to CARNIVAL MAGIC, he writes, “Although the ship’s bows are short, its profile is nicely balanced, with a rakish front and a more rounded stern.” Most reviewers would neither notice nor bother to mention such information. He takes a particular fancy to Celebrity’s SOLSTICE Class Ships and describes their artwork and decor with a sense of admiration and vigor.
The Berlitz guide includes more than just U.S.-based ships, which makes it more interesting than most guides that focus solely on the American cruise experience. And, not surprising to anyone who is familiar with Mr. Ward’s admiration for Hapag-Lloyd’s EUROPA, that ship is once again the winner of the sole “five-plus stars” distinction.
In addition to ship reviews, Ward devotes the first third of the book to a wide range of subjects relevant to both newbie and veteran cruisers, from “What to Look for in 2013”, “Choosing The Right Cruise” and “What the Brochures Don’t Always Tell You” to “The Year’s Star Performers”. The major cruise lines are compared and all sorts of useful and interesting material is provided, from the best in shore excursions to how cruise ships are built. The book includes maps of major cruising destinations and tables and charts that compare just about every conceivable aspect of cruising. All in all, this is a great reference for anyone who enjoys cruising or wants to keep up to date with the world’s cruising fleet.
In addition to the book, Berlitz offers a 2013 Cruising and Cruise Ships App.