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Cruise News and Information
December 12, 2005
New Cruise Guidebooks on the Shelf,
2006 editions make a nice holiday gift for cruisers
We spoke to the author's of several 2006 cruise guidebooks this fall and, after an in-depth
review of each, the following are CruiseCompete's recommendations for the most useful books
on the market:
The Unofficial Guide to Cruises, Kay Showker, 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 book 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.
Frommers Cruises and Ports of Call, Matt Hannafin & Heidi Sarna, John Wiley and Sons Inc.
Hannafin is a former editor at Frommers who teamed up with longtime writing partner Sarna
for this annual guidebook. Both began taking cruise assignments in the 1990s 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. The ship reviews are divided into categories, including small ships and niche operators.
"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.
Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships, Douglas Ward, Berlitz Publishing
Ward held several positions with major cruise lines and, 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 annual book. Ward
uses a comprehensive 400-point system to rank the cruise ships he sails/visits. The cruise lines use his
observations as part of their quality control process. Some 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 Cruises, Linda Coffman, Fodor's
Coffman, an admitted cruise-aholic, is publisher of CruiseDiva.com. 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 carefully select the ship based on your personal tastes. Her book tries to provide
consumers with the tools needed to evaluate what they want in a cruise and 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 said.
CruiseCompete highlights three more great guidebooks in the next issue of Currents!
Each of these books are available at Amazon.com