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Book Review - Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships 2013

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships 2013

Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships 2013

Book Cover Courtesy of Berlitz

The Bottom Line

Anyone who loves to cruise will love this book. The Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships 2013 is one of the best "general" cruise guides you can buy. Author Douglas Ward provides an in-depth review of 284 cruise ships in this cruise guidebook, now in its 28th year of publication. Mr. Ward is certainly a cruise expert--he has spent 5800 days at sea on over 1000 cruises! The guide book has exceptional information on ships of sizes and prices. Like me, Mr. Ward believes there is a cruise ship to suit everyone's taste.
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  • Exquisite details on 284 cruise ships - 1 or more pages on each ship
  • Excellent advice for planning your first or next cruise
  • Authoritative guide to all important cruise ship statistics
  • Superb analysis/comparison of 10 major cruise lines
  • Scoring system is well explained and helps with cruise planning


  • Not all ships are updated each year
  • Information on cruise destinations is limited; book focuses primarily on ships
  • Different ships in the same cruise line sometimes have almost identical reviews
  • May be too much information and too many ships for those who have not cruised much


  • Alphabetical ratings for 284 cruise ships covering almost 700 pages
  • Complete analysis of ship accommodations, food, service, entertainment, and destinations based on Mr. Ward's 5800 days at sea
  • Guidance on what to look for in a cruise ship and crew
  • Information on ships debuting in 2013
  • Charts that compare cabins, food, service, homeland ports, and destinations for ships in different cruise lines
  • Describes different types of cruises (luxury, romantics, families, seniors, solo travelers, physically challenged, and gays)
  • Almost 200 pages of relevant general cruise information and 500 pages of cruise ship reviews
  • Briefly discusses alternatives such as river cruises, expedition cruises, and coastal cruises
  • Loved list of 100 popular shore excursions around the world

Guide Review - Book Review - Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships 2013

Mr. Ward does an excellent job of pointing out the pros and cons of cruise ships of all sizes, ages, and price ranges. Mr. Ward also reminds travelers that there is no perfect cruise ship or cruise line. People enjoy different activities and destinations and expect different amenities, and this guide will help them find the right cruise ship for the things that are important to them.

The first 189 pages of this 698-page guide also offer great general information useful for cruise planning and an interesting comparison of 10 major cruise lines.

The next 509 pages rate 284 ocean-going cruise ships. The point system used to evaluate the ships provide an excellent basis for comparing ships and cruise lines. The only small downside is that "sister" ships for the same cruise line often have the same rating and almost identical narratives. Those of us who have sailed on sister ships know that these ships are not always identical. However, this book is still one of my favorite resources for learning about ships and comparing features that are important for travelers.

For the 12th consecutive year the highest ranked cruise ship is the Europa, which is the flagship of German line Hapag-Lloyd. The Europa scores 1852 points out of a possible 2000. Nineteen other cruise ships scored well in the Berlitz book, with scores totaling 1701 to 1787 points. These 20 ships scored highest in the 400 separate items evaluated in the scoring system, all of which are categorized into six categories: the ship, accommodations, food, service, entertainment, and cruise experience.

Like everything else, the more you spend, the more you get. All of the Berlitz Guide highest-rated ships are operated by luxury or premium cruise lines Hapag-Lloyd, Crystal, Oceania, Seabourn, Silversea, SeaDream, and Sea Cloud. Cunard's Queen Mary 2 Grill Class cabins also made the top group, and was the only large ship scoring over 1701.

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