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Seabourne are not such a surprise as they are getting on in years although I believe they are about to get refits but I am sure there are some very embarrased people in a couple of corporate offices - a potential marketing disaster that will no doubt have an effect on both potential new pax and indeed existing ones as the ships loose that cache associated with 5 stars.
Cunard gets best overall cruise line.
HAL gets best line for retired persons !
Think I will have to get the book.
This man is a snob and I really dont care for his attitude and the way he describes things in his books. Perhaps Hapag Lloyd have paid him off to keep rating Europa the best year after year.
The books just got worst. He now describes all large ships as resort ships. criticises how cheap cruises have become describing unscrupulous people who go that sport tattoos etc. Even the useless information is all wrong. He incorectly states ships have pods when they have standard propulsion, states incorrect numbers of cabins and passenger capacity.
This man will find a way to criticise anything from what others will find to be good service, food, facilities etc, he wil tear it to shreds and find extensive faults. He lists like a 100 pro points for small ships and few bad points and the opposite for large ships.
As far as that author is concerned douglas ward he can take his books and stick them where the sun doesnt shine. There is no need for the kind of extreme critisism he lists in his books.
quote:Originally posted by Sutho:He now describes all large ships as resort ships. criticises how cheap cruises have become describing unscrupulous people who go that sport tattoos etc.
Sounds like Cruisetalk!
I see these books as just a 'Guide', a set of one mans (in fact a teams) opinions, but by no means a 'Bible'. It's fine as long as we remeber it's limitations.
[ 10-13-2007: Message edited by: Malcolm @ cruisepage ]
I cannot imagine why he would downgrade Silver Cloud and Wind for instance and not the other 2 ships if he had an axe to grind, all he seems to be pointing out is that the 2 older ships are just that older and may not now offer the same facilities, after all the defination of a 5 star ship 10 years ago would be different to what a 5 star ship should offer now. I personally see his point about Seabourne, certainly they do not seem to be as well regarded any more as Sea Dream perhaps because Carnival wanted to sell them and let the ball drop- there have also been alot of management changes. I cannot comment about Regent. I accept that some of the detail (and there seems to be a HUGE amount of it in the book) is not always absolutley as accurate as one would like but given the volume I suppose there might be some discrepencies. However people buy these to find out what the experience might be like and what the service and facilities might be like, I do have a 06 copy and at random looked at 5 different ships I have been on, on the whole he does seem to have it right if not totally on the pin accurate.
The major point is however the cruise companies themselves do take note, they are fast enough to point out when they are top of the ratings and Berlitz guides are well known world wide, this guide is I believe one of the top 2 selling in the world therefore one that they would want to be well reported in. If I were Seabourne and Silversea I would be looking at how one could improve and justify regaining 5 stars. I own guesthouses here in SA, one of which is 5 star rated, we continually review things to make sure we keep 5 stars as it gives us a definative edge over competition and we have to rethink and refurb every few years to upgrade and meet increased expectations from our guests.
Europa, I am told, fully deserves its 5 star plus rating as the attention to detail on board is not found anywhere else.
Anyway I am now intrigued and have ordered the darn book and will report back if I think he is full of hogwash etc.
quote:Originally posted by mike sa: Anyway I am now intrigued and have ordered the darn book and will report back if I think he is full of hogwash etc.
Anyway I am now intrigued and have ordered the darn book and will report back if I think he is full of hogwash etc.
I have met Ward in person and used to buy his books. They are filled with so many inaccuracies it's almost humorous. I will no longer waste my money.
It's also a well known fact he has had an axe to grind with certain cruise lines in the past. Maybe they didn't give him enough free cruises?
quote:Originally posted by mike sa:[...]Europa, I am told, fully deserves its 5 star plus rating as the attention to detail on board is not found anywhere else.[..]
Europa, I am told, fully deserves its 5 star plus rating as the attention to detail on board is not found anywhere else.[..]
Yes, you can have a 'bad' cruise aboard Europa - but the overall approach is slightly different and they certainly deserve not only to be rated as the best.
Seabourn seems to have been overrated - but four stars is a bit harsh - the downgrading Silverseas is surprising - and finally also Regent.
There are no excuses for the embarrassing inaccuracies in the guide - this problem has been there ever since and should be rectified by now. It's a 'simple' database we talk about. Anyhow - it is not really relevant how long a ship is or whether it has pods or not for the rating of the experience aboard.
We may like this book or hate it - it undeniable is one of the few references on cruise ships that are out there. Whereas I often disagree with what I read in this guide Mr. Ward is fully entitled to his opinion - and my only criticism is the pretense of objectivity this and also other guides on hotels or restaurants have. To describe and evaluate a cruise is very, very subjective. This 'checklist' approach might give one an overview of facilities found aboard - but it not even an basis for judging a ship - it is irrelevant for the overall experience.
As far as ratings are concerned I dont think the mass market lines deserve all the critisism. They are the backbone of the cruise industry and without them the companies would not have the money to keep and fund the smaller more luxury lines.
I have no doubt Silverseas, Seabourne etc are luxury, there is just no need to kick the other lines and try to rub salt in their wounds. Reading that mans comments I get the impression that quite a few people have rubbed him the wrong way and told him where to go, and he got no compassion or extra benefit from the line.
quote:Originally posted by Sutho:In a posative note the only thing I ever liked about it was the so called useless information that stated passenger number, tonnage, number of decks, size etc. That gave me an idea of how to picture the ship in size and what it would be like onboard.[...]
It is of course nice to have this information in a guide rating cruise ships - and it should be correct. (which is not so difficult to achieve) But finally, the errors are not so relevant for the rating of the overall cruise experience. (which is no excuse) There are many other publications where one can find this information - I would not consult the Berlitz guide for that.
For some reason he emphasises in his books about napkins used for lunches. for some reason he thinks napkins should be of high quality material and not of paper. All well and good for a formal restaurant, but when you are around the pool and just want a quick burger or hotdog then paper napkins are sufficient. I suspect this man is one who would eat a burger or hotdog with a knife and fork!
He also self appoints himself as an expert architect, designer, technician etc. One bias he states against large ships is he claims a swell or puff of wind is enough to send large ships into a roll. However he will never entertain the idea that a small ship would be like hell in a force 7 sea state.
If I could change his rating system then it would be like this. The facilities evaluation stays. Entertainment will go or is less relevant as staff regulary changes and each line tends to use the same guest performers, so therefore each ship in a particular line should get the same score for entertainment (not something he does).
Food and service should stay, however it should be the same for each ship in a particular brands fleet. Example all Princess ships should get the same score.
How he could evaluate a cruise experience is beyond me and probably anyone. Different people have different tastes as to what they like. Some people like beaches and tropical paradise islands of the Caribbean, others like sightseeing and ancient cities, others like Alaska and Norway.
quote:Originally posted by Sutho: For some reason he emphasises in his books about napkins used for lunches. for some reason he thinks napkins should be of high quality material and not of paper.
For some reason he emphasises in his books about napkins used for lunches. for some reason he thinks napkins should be of high quality material and not of paper.
He also harps on "no fish knives" on HAL and ceiling panels for some reason. Like these things really mean anything to the average cruiser. Frankly I think he is out of touch with reality and I'm surprised Berlitz keeps contracting him year after year.
quote:Originally posted by Sutho:I actually wonder how much cruise lines do listen to this man or take notice of him.
I can't say anything about him personally as I've never met him (last time I was on QE2 he was aboard but the only opportunity to meet him was at a book signing and I wasn't going to buy a book I didn't want just to get 30 seconds with the great man ) but I can't say I am a great admirer of the guide. Certainly, some years have been much better than others, with the worst being in the early part of this decade when I understand he was seriously ill; that seems to have had an understandable adverse effect on the book. (It was during these years that many particularly egregious errors appeared, such as a hilarious statement stating that the ancient former ENRICO C. - I forget if she was AEGEAN SPIRIT or OCEAN GLORY I at the time - had pods! This was, in fact, a sentence that had accidentally found its way there from the review of the then-new VOYAGER OF THE SEAS.) More recent editions have not been so sloppy but nevertheless I can't say I think the guidebook is the "cruising bible" as many seem to think. No such book exists and if it did this wouldn't
My main objection to the book is that its rating system is just too complicated, which I see as nothing more than a whole lot of smoke and mirrors trying to give the utterly false impression that there is some sort of objective, quantitative analysis going into rating these ships - which of course there cannot possibly be. It must be an awful lot of work coming up with all those fancy numbers and I can't help but thinking it's all for naught. A sensible rating system would be to give a ship a number of stars (one to five, let's say - even with "pluses" if one insists) and then rating a variety of categories like accommodations, dining, entertainment etc. on let's say a scale of one to five again. No ranking of ships from best to worst (this seems nothing short of ridiculous, as though there was some sensible way to calculate the precise level of quality of any given ship in relation to every other ship in the world!), no rating things on scales going up to 200 or anything like that. All this stuff seems to subscribe to the school of thought that says that if you make something so complicated that readers can't understand it, they'll think you simply must know more than they do! (And perhaps it works, judging by the number of people who actually seem to believe that it matters whether a ship got a rating of 1,413 or 1,483, or whatever.)
The narrative I find less of a problem; of course I don't agree with his opinions all the time but at least that is more obviously identifiable as being, in fact, an opinion! The fact that I don't agree with all of it is immaterial; it would be hard to say that his opinions are not worthy or valid. What bothers me is the bizarre need to have "numbers" to back it up.
Irrespective of what we think, his guides are probably the best selling cruise guides. Amazon UK sold 30,000 alone of the 2007 version. Now if I ran a cruise line I'd take that seriously. I'm sure Berlitz are very pleased with his work.
Peter Deilmann took him seriously because I believe Ward rated 'Deutschland' at four stars and Deilman wanted five. If this is the case, I don't see why Ward could not express his personal opinion and rate a ship at whatever grade he wishes.
A cruise experience is subjective and Ward simply gives his opinion. Anyway, It's impossible to put anything in print or on-line without at least half the readers thinking that you are very wrong!
quote:Originally posted by locarno: Friends of mine who work on cruise ships told me that he made a quick visit on a vessel, not seeing much at all, but yet this particular ship was also feattured in his Guide.
Way back in 1986 I was designated to take Mr. Ward aboard the brand new JUBILEE for a ship inspection and luncheon. His only comment to me afterwards was that Carnival should provide a pair of sunglasses with every set of cruise tickets they sent out!
quote:Originally posted by Linerrich: His only comment to me afterwards was that Carnival should provide a pair of sunglasses with every set of cruise tickets they sent out!Rich
His only comment to me afterwards was that Carnival should provide a pair of sunglasses with every set of cruise tickets they sent out!
Too funny, especially considering the JUBLIEE was pretty tame compared to what came along a few years later.
It is indeed inadequate to evaluate ships based on one or two visits but this deficit is of course not so easy to overcome. Different ratings for ships operated in the same manner (sister ships of the same cruise line) can indeed be discussed but I would still would insist that all ships of a fleet are tested (on the cost of visiting other ships less frequent) - be it just to verify that they are all operated to the same standard. Whereas I understand the problem of evaluating e.g. the entertainment where the staff might change on a more frequent basis it can of course not be ignored.
Paper napkins or a normal knife for fish are certainly sufficient in some situations but they are inferior. (and on deck paper napkins can be a problem as they are more easily blown overboard) It is ridiculous to complain about that (e.g. aboard a cheaper cruise ship) but it is adequate to consider this in an evaluation. (and aboard HAL I would not expect a normal knife for fish!)
Mr. Ward is indeed well adviced to omit technical comments - those I read were more on the ridiculous side.
Personally, I would prefer the guide to put more emphasis on the essays. As there is not objective way to evaluate a cruise I would omit all the pseudo objective tables and ratings. (categories are fine as a guidance - but two thousand points are ridiculous - it might help Mr. Ward to come to an opinion but I would not publish that)
P.S.: If you find cutlery on you table you are not supposed to eat with you hands - even if it's a burger.
P.P.S.: All German speaking member might remember the documentary on Mr. Ward inspecting Europa.
quote:Originally posted by Ernst:Personally, I would prefer the guide to put more emphasis on the essays. As there is not objective way to evaluate a cruise I would omit all the pseudo objective tables and ratings. (categories are fine as a guidance - but two thousand points are ridiculous - it might help Mr. Ward to come to an opinion but I would not publish that)
IMHO, categories like food, accommodations, etc. should be rated on scales of at most ten points - and of course there is no harm if there are many ships that get a 7 or an 8 or a 5 or whatever, just as there is no harm in having many four star ships, three star ships and so on!
quote:Originally posted by Ernst:P.P.S.: All German speaking member might remember the documentary on Mr. Ward inspecting Europa.
quote:Originally posted by Ernst:In one port he made a surprise visit to Vistamar - he did not really like what he saw.
I wonder how Mr. Ward feels about the way he is treated by the crew. What you describe would make me very uncomfortable.
[ 10-14-2007: Message edited by: Ernst ]
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