The Bottom Line
Anyone who loves to cruise will love this book. The Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2018 is one of the best "general" cruise guides you can buy. Author Douglas Ward provides an in-depth review of 300 cruise ships in this cruise guidebook, now in its 33rd year of publication. Mr. Ward is certainly a cruise expert--he has worked in the cruise industry for over 50 years and averages about 200 days a year on cruise ships.
The guidebook has exceptional information on ships of all sizes and prices, from mainstream to ultra-luxury. Mr. Ward believes there is a cruise ship to suit everyone's taste and budget, and he's right.
- Exquisite details on 300 cruise ships - one or more pages on each ship
- Excellent advice for planning your first or next cruise with great list of Cruise FAQs
- Authoritative guide to all important cruise ship statistics
- Superb analysis/comparison of nine major cruise lines and several smaller cruise companies
- Scoring system is well explained and helps with cruise planning
- Price of Berlitz Guide includes free app and ebook version
- Not all ships are updated each year
- Information on cruise destinations is excellent but limited; book focuses primarily on ships
- Different ships in the same cruise line sometimes have almost identical reviews
- Might be too much information and too many different ships for those who have not cruised much
- Alphabetical ratings for 300 cruise ships covering over 700 pages
- Complete analysis of ship accommodations, food, service, entertainment, and destinations based on Mr. Ward's 6200+ days at sea
- Guidance on what to look for on a cruise ship and crew
- Information on ships debuting in 2018
- Describes different types of cruises (families, romantics, seniors, solo travelers, physically challenged)
- Almost 200 pages of relevant general cruise information and 500 pages of cruise ship reviews
- Briefly discusses alternatives such as sailboat cruises, expedition cruises, and coastal cruises
Book Review - Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2018
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. This guide will help them find the right cruise ship for the things that are important to them.
The first 178 pages of this 736-page guide also offer great general information useful for cruise planning and an interesting comparison of major cruise lines.
The rest of the book rates 300 ocean-going cruise ships. The point system used to evaluate the ships provides 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 who have sailed on sister ships know that these ships are not always identical. However, this book is still a great resource for learning about ships and comparing features that are important for travelers.
What Are the Top Ranked Cruise Ships?
Mr. Ward gave the Europa 2 cruise ship 1863 points out of a possible 2000, which makes it his overall #1 ship on the seas. The Europa 2 is one of four ships of German line Hapag-Lloyd. Her sister ship the Europa was just behind, scoring 1852 points. Both these ships rated 5-stars-plus and are in the small ship category of 251-750 passengers. Five other cruise ships (all in the boutique ship category of 50-250 passengers) earned 5-stars, scoring between 1701 and 1850 points.
These seven 5-stars-plus and 5-stars ships scored highest in the 400 separate factors evaluated in the scoring system, all of which are categorized into six categories: the ship, accommodations, food, service, entertainment, and cruise experience.
Twenty-eight other ships received 4-stars-plus ratings since they scored between 1551 and 1700 points. In 2017, only thirteen ships received this rating, so cruise lines must be doing a good job of improving their ships to meet these criteria. Several of the new ships in the 4-stars-plus rating were launched in the past few years.
Like everything else, the more you spend, the more you get. Several of these 35 Berlitz Guide 4-stars-plus or better ships are small or boutique ships operated by luxury cruise lines Hapag-Lloyd, Silversea, SeaDream, Seabourn, Sea Cloud, and Regent Seven Seas. In the mid-size ship category, Viking, Oceania, Crystal, and Nippon Yusen Kaisha Cruises had the highest rated ships. Mein Schiff, Cunard, Genting, and MSC had the highest rated large resort ships (2501-6500 passengers).