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Passion for cruise ships translates into Berlitz guide

If there is a godfather of the cruise-writing business, that title must belong to Englishman Douglas Ward.

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 for $16.62, and I bought one for my Kindle at $9.99. The app is available on 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 Douglas for 13 years.

Reading between the lines, I have a feeling that he prefers the smaller ships but he has lots to say about the mega ships, as he likes to call them the "resort ships."

He leaves nothing to the imagination. 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. He also has an entire section on river cruising.

Douglas and I probably don't totally agree on some ship reviews but then the entire art of cruising is quite subjective.

He points out that the basic cost of cruising offers today's best value in travelling and he is right. But that basic cost of cruising can quickly rise when, without thinking, you consider the extras - things like currency conversion, gratuities, transfer buses, mineral water, navigation bridge tours, bingo cards.

Here is how Douglas ranks the top three ships (scores are 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 I look forward to hearing your comments.

Visit for daily updates on the latest cruise news, best deals and behind-the-scenes stories from the industry. You can also sign up for an email newsletter on the site for even more cruise information. Phil can be contacted directly at portsandbows@