The Berlitz Cruise Guide is the cruise lover’s bible. Written by Douglas Ward, whose credentials are unsurpassable having worked for 8 cruise ship companies over 17 years, starting in 1965, this is THE Guide.
Says Ward on his website: ” The first edition of this book, reviewing, testing and evaluating 120 ships, appeared in 1985, when cruising seemed to most people an expensive, rarefied experience. Today, the book is the most highly regarded source of comparative information not only for cruise purchasers, but also for cruise industry executives, crew members, and travel agents.”
In 2013 Ward lists his top 10 vessels and for the 13th time, the Europa from the Hapag Lloyd Cruises line, is at the top of the Small Ships category. This vessel, which Ward describes as offering “the best cruise experience available today unless you own a private motor yacht” is also the only vessel to be placed in the exclusive 5-star Plus ‘club’. The 112-guest mega yachts SeaDream I and SeaDream II have again achieved the top two ratings in the ‘Boutique Ships’ category (50 – 250 passengers). Seabourn’s Legend comes next.
Seabourn’s ships scoop three out of the Top Ten Small Ships and three out of the Top Ten Boutique Ships, while SeaDream gets the top 2 slots in the Boutique Ships category and Celebrity Cruises is credited with 7 of the Top Ten Large Resort Ships.
Crystal Serenity Oceania Cruises’ new Riviera and Crystal Cruises’ other ship Crystal Symphony came a close second and third in the mid-size ship ratings.
Queen Mary 2 (Grill class)was rated the large resort-style ships. Celebrity Solstice, which will be based in Australia this summer, and Celebrity Equinox jointly came second in this category.
Safety is a big issue in this edition after the Costa Concordia tragedy. Cruising remains one of the safest forms of transportation. The major cruise lines have all modified or tightened up their safety drills and now stage their drill before they leave the port, rather than within 24 hours of departure.