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Tuesday, 2 October 2012


Ports and Bows: Berlitz writer’s reviews show a passion for cruises


BY PHIL REIMER, SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE

Writer Douglas Ward ranks the Queen Mary 2 as the top large resort ship. (Photo courtesy of Michel Verdure)

Writer Douglas Ward ranks the Queen Mary 2 as the top large resort ship. (Photo courtesy of Michel Verdure)

Photograph by: ¨© 2004 Michel Verdure , ¨© Michel Verdure


If there is a godfather of the cruise writing business, that title must belong to Englishman Douglas Ward.
He is the author of the industry bible the Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships, and the 2013 edition is now online and on bookshelves across the country.
Douglas — I just can’t bring myself to call an Englishman “Doug” — spends more time cruising than I spend at home. His passion for being on cruise ships goes back a long way to when he worked as an employee for several cruise lines before finding out that writing about cruising was a lot more fun and a lot less work.
I’ve had a chance to talk to Douglas on several occasions and, in fact, when I first started Ports and Bows, my first call was to his home in England. Luckily for me he was home, because he spends 200 days a year cruising. That annual allotment has turned into 5,800 days (almost 16 years) on 1,020 cruises.
While many writers are turning out their first app or online book on cruising, this is No. 28 for Douglas.
I went onto Indigo’s website and found the book selling for $19.95, on Amazon’s for $16.62, and I bought one for my Kindle at $9.99. Better still, thumb through it at your local bookstore (should be on shelves Oct. 1). The app is available at iTunes for $9.99.
Ward makes a good point when it comes to saving money. Many new ships, especially in the early years, charge a premium. He points out that working through a travel agent or shopping online, you may find the same cruise, or some variation of it, less costly on one of the line’s older ships.
The book is a rising tide of information. You will find reviews for almost 300 cruise ships ranked in an easy-to-understand format from the best to worst. A ship you probably haven’t heard of — Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa — has been ranked No. 1 by Ward for 13 years.
He leaves nothing to the imagination in his reviews. Everything from each ship’s accommodation, food, service, entertainment and overall experience are ranked individually by point value, giving you a quick overview of every ship. In the preface, he offers up sage advice on a variety of cruise questions that should lead you into deciding what ship fits your style or family needs. He also offers up an entire section on river cruising.
Ward and I probably don’t totally agree on some ship reviews but then the entire art of cruising is quite subjective, from passenger to passenger and critic to critic.
Here is how Ward ranks the top 3 ships (out of 2,000):
Large (Resort) ships (over 1,750 passengers)
1. Queen Mary 2 (Grill Class) – 1,702 points
2. (tie) Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Solstice – 1,611 points
Mid-size ships (751 to 1,750 passengers)
1. Crystal Serenity – 1,717 points
2. Oceania Riviera – 1,702 points
3. Crystal Symphony – 1,701 points
Small ships (251 to 750 passengers)
1. Hapag-Lloyd Europa – 1,852 points
2. Seabourn Quest – 1,776 points
3. Seabourn Odyssey – 1,775 points
Boutique ships (50 to 250 passengers)
1. SeaDream II – 1,788 points
2. SeaDream I – 1,786 points
3. Seabourn Legend – 1,774 points

Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette, Canada.

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