If you want a holiday that’s hassle-free, virtually pre-paid, and that lets you see lots of places while only needing to pack and unpack once, then you should try a cruise. The Berlitz Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships is the cruise industry bible: it gives you all the information you need to choose the right cruise for you.
Meticulously updated every year by cruise expert Douglas Ward, it is divided into two main parts: the first helps you work out what you’re looking for in a cruise holiday and how to find it; the lively text and colour photographs describe every aspect of life on board, including safety, the highs and lows of the cruise experience and how to save money. The second part contains unbiased reviews and fascinating detail of 275 ocean-going cruise vessels, and grades them on service, food, entertainment and facilities, using an internationally recognised ratings system.
I started collecting this guide 4 years ago and now, I would never be without the latest edition. It literally does contain just about everything you need to know. I appreciate that people like to use the internet to hunt down the answers to their questions and to do their research, but it never hurts to have something like this in the house. It comes in useful for finding out about passenger capacity, whether a ship is family-friendly or not and accommodation sizes, without having to trail through the World Wide Web. You can even find out how much each ship cost to build! For some people it has everything they could want to know, for others it contains quirky little facts that you can’t always find online.
Highlights of the Berlitz Cruising and Cruise Ships Guide 2016
- Ward’s favourite cruise experiences of the last 31 years.
- Tips on getting the best value for money.
- A list of extra-cost items on board to look out for.
- Impartial information that the brochures just don’t include.
- A comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of the minor cruise lines.
- All of the new ships set to debut in 2016.
- What to expect from on-board entertainment and spas.
- This year’s star performers and the Top 5 ships in each of 11 ‘Best in Class’ categories.
- An expanded Frequently Asked Questions section, based on readers’ feedback.
- A sample itinerary of a typical programme for a day at sea.
- Information on the latest themed cruises.
- A ratings and scores index at the back of the book, making it easy to compare ships.
Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships 2016 Rankings
This is the bit that everyone looks at, the rankings! These were some of the high-flyers for the 2016 edition, but to view the full list you will have to grab a copy of the guide – I can’t list them all.
The Top 5 Large Resort Ships (2,001–6,500 passengers) All 4-star Plus
- 1st Place: Mein Schiff 4 – 1,698 points
- 2nd Place: Mein Schiff 3 – 1,697
- 3rd Place: Queen Mary 2 – 1,675
- 4th Place: Britannia – 1,656
- 5th Place: Queen Elizabeth – 1,583
The Top 5 Small Ships (251–750 passengers)
- 1st Place: Europa 2 (5-star Plus) – 1,860 points
- 2nd Place: Europa (5-star Plus) – 1,852
- 3rd Place: Silver Whisper (5-star) – 1,743
- 4th Place: Silver Shadow (5-star) – 1,741
- 5th Place: Silver Spirit (5-star) – 1,735
5 Best Cruise Lines for Teenagers – Teenagers like space away from adults to hang out and meet others. Some ships get it, others don’t. These do:
- Disney Cruise Line (Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy)
- Norwegian Cruise Line (Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Getaway)
- MSC Cruises (MSC Divina/MSC Preziosa)
- Royal Caribbean International (Anthem of the Seas/Quantum of the Seas)
- TUI Cruises (Mein Schiff 3/ Mein Schiff)
5 Best Cruise Ship Spas – Wellness and pampering on board have become major attractions:
- AIDA Cruises (AIDAprima)
- Cunard Line (Queen Mary 2)
- Hapag-Lloyd Cruises (Europa 2)
- MSC Cruises (MSC Divina, MSC Fantasia, MSC Preziosa, MSC Splendida)
- Viking Cruises (Viking Star)
About the author
Widely regarded as the world’s top authority on cruising and cruise ships, Douglas Ward has completed over 6,000 days at sea, participated in more than 1,000 cruises, 158 transatlantic crossings, and countless Panama Canal transits, shipyard visits, ship-naming ceremonies and maiden voyages. Often described as a maritime Sherlock Holmes, Ward leaves no stone un-turned in his 200 sea days each year, examining everything from the fluffiness of the towels to the quality of the china and silverware, and from the welcome aboard to the disembarkation process.
The Berlitz guide can be purchased online and in stores.