Books on Boats: The Best 10 Cruiseline Guidebooks
so many options available, choosing the right cruise
can be a real challenge. Where do you want to go? How
much do you want to spend? Which cruise line is best
for you? Some of the best resources to help answer these
questions and many others are the latest cruise travel
guidebooks available at bookstores and online.
"Cruises are available to meet every taste and
budget," says Bob
Levinstein, CEO of CruiseCompete.com, a Web site that
allows consumers to compare cruise quotes from multiple
guidebooks are a fun, inexpensive way to help you make
the choice that's right for you."
After in-depth reviews of the new 2006 guidebooks, here
are CruiseCompete's most entertaining recommendations:
Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships
Ward, Publisher: Berlitz Publishing
Having held several positions
with major cruise lines in the distant past, this author
is a cruise expert. For the past 21 years, he has typically
spent more than 200 days each year aboard the world's
cruise ships to evaluate them for his book, which is
updated annually. Ward uses a comprehensive 400-point
critiquing system to rank the cruise ships he sails/visits.
The cruise lines use his reviews and observations as
part of their quality control process. About 70 cruise
lines are featured in his book, which does not accept
advertising or sponsorship. In addition to the larger
players in the industry, he also evaluates small
ships, tall ships and expedition cruises.
"My book is targeted toward all cruisers, but those
looking for an unusual cruise opportunity will find
it most useful," Ward said.
Complete Guide to Caribbean
Author: Linda Coffman, Publisher:
Coffman is publisher of CruiseDiva.com
and an admitted cruise-aholic. Her work has appeared
in many travel and cruise magazines, as well as newspapers
and on The Travel Channel Web site. She says the key
to a great cruise experience is to select the ship carefully
based on your personal tastes. Her book tries to provide
consumers with all the tools needed to evaluate what
they want in a cruise and then select the best ship.
Experienced cruisers who want to cruise on more expensive
lines will benefit from the book's insights on the value
of their luxury amenities. Half of the book focuses
on Caribbean ports-of-call.
"Knowing what to expect on a cruise really helps
the consumer make intelligent travel decisions. We provide
detailed, honest information, so they can choose the
cruise line that suits their needs the best," Coffman
Cruise Vacations for Dummies
Author: Heidi Sarna
and Matt Hannafin, Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
The authors' book is geared toward cruisers of all ages
who are young at heart. It is written in a light, conversational
style and the authors' sense of humor comes through
as they try to dispel a number of common myths about
cruise travel. The book provides a great overview of
the industry and all of the popular cruise regions around
the world. This book also lists many of the authors'
favorite cruise ships, including smaller, more intimate
"Our book is a humorous, quick read with an irreverent
slant - perfect for younger cruisers," Sarna said.
Author: Corey Sandler,
Publisher: Econoguide Travel Books/ Word Association
Sandler comes from a newspaper journalism background
and approaches his job as author from the perspective
of a reporter rather than cruise enthusiast. He has
been on more than 100 cruises during the past several
years, from ultra-luxury sailings to simple ships touring
the Erie Canal. His book focuses on how to get the most
cruise for your money by taking advantage of all discounts
and other promotional items available from the cruise
lines. Each edition of his book features special discount
"In addition to a great amount of details on the
ships, our book features exclusive cruise diary entries
to help the reader secure a feel for the flavor of the
cruise line," Sandler said.
Frommers Cruises and Ports of
Author: Matt Hannafin
and Heidi Sarna, Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Hannafin is a former senior editor at Frommers who teamed
up with longtime writing partner Sarna for this annual
guidebook. Both began taking cruise assignments in the
'90s and share the belief that virtually every line
has its own "best" attributes depending on
what a cruiser wants in a vacation. Their book focuses
exclusively on cruises originating in the United States,
Canada and the Caribbean. It evaluates all the U.S.
ports of embarkation plus ports-of-call in the Caribbean,
Alaska, Hawaii, the Mexican Riviera, New England, Bermuda
and along U.S. river-cruise routes.
"One of the most unique features of our book is
that we include both retail pricing for cruises, plus
samples of the actual discount prices that are out there.
This gives people a sense of what to expect price-wise
when booking a trip," Hannafin said.
Insight Guide North American & Alaskan Cruises
Gordon, Publisher: Langenscheidt Publishers Inc.
Gordon, a 10-year travel publishing veteran, said this
book contains detailed coverage of a large number of
North American ports, including Alaska and Hawaii. Written
for both the novice and experienced cruiser, it is full
of "how to" tips and images of what ships
and destinations look like.
Experienced cruisers will find the information on big
ship and small ship experiences useful, as well as the
narrative history of North America's waterways. The
book provides colorful and detailed coverage of virtually
every major North America port-of-call. These include
stops on the west coast to Alaska, across Canada and
eastern seaboard, through the Deep South. Great Lakes
ports and stops on many of the major rivers crisscrossing
the country are also covered.
"Insight Guide North American & Alaskan Cruises
includes details of what to see and do in each port.
This is particularly useful if you only have a few hours
in town. There's also plenty of advice and suggestions
for people spending a few days in a port before or staying
on after a cruise," Gordon said.
The Unofficial Guide to Cruises
Author: Kay Showker,
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Showker has covered the cruise industry as a journalist
for more than 30 years and has written 13 travel guidebooks.
Her guide is intended for anyone interested in taking
a cruise. It is divided into three parts: the first
section is for people new to cruising and discusses
how to plan a cruise, plus the ten most common myths
about this type of vacation. Part two focuses on the
cruise lines and their ships, highlighting strengths
and weaknesses and the types of passengers one is likely
to meet on any given sailing. Part three covers alternatives
to traditional cruises, including river and barge sailings,
adventure and cultural cruises, ferries and freighters
and sailing ships. The book, updated annually, provides
plenty of tips on getting the best deal, using the Internet,
buying insurance and working with a travel agent. It
does not cover ports-of-call.
"This book is the easiest guide to use on the market.
Our readers and travel agents tell me that all the time.
It was written to be simple to use. We tell it like
it is," Showker said.
Steven Gelfuso, president of CruiseBrothers.com, one
of the largest family-owned cruise travel agencies in
the country, strongly encourages his sales staff to
read the latest editions of the above books each year
(as well as three cruise experiences per year) and use
them as reference guides when working with customers.
customers have all kinds of questions about specific
cruise lines and ships," Gelfuso said. "Our
sales team finds these books valuable when answering
the toughest questions and consumers should find them
very useful too. There are so many options available
for people who want to go on a cruise vacation - these
guides help everyone make sense of what cruise will
be best for them and how to maximize their vacation
saves consumers time by enabling them to secure quotes
for cruise deals from multiple travel agencies without
having to contact each one separately. To date, more
than 250,000 customers have accessed CruiseCompete.com
to request cruise prices from more than 150 member travel
agencies around the country. Cruise Compete, LLC, is
an independent company not owned by or affiliated with
any travel agency.