General Cruise Information
If you want to learn more about cruising in general or about individual ships and itineraries in particular, there are several titles you should consider buying. Some are written from the insider's perspective of cruise-ship employees, while others are written in review style by experts who have cruised all over the world.
Unofficial Guide to Cruises
The Unofficial Guide series of books are the closest thing you'll find to a Consumer Reports of travel guides. The Unofficial Guide to Cruises, written by Kay Showker and Bob Sehlinger, won the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award for Best New Guidebook on its first printing in December 2003. It is not family-focused, but does include family cruising information on cabins, itineraries, dining, service, entertainment, facilities, shore excursions, and—most important—getting the best value for your buck.
Cruise Chooser: Buyer's Guide to Cruises
This book, written by Mary Fallon Miller, is meant first and foremost to be a money-saving guide. It includes twenty-five different programs that reportedly will help you find better bargains and even offers a special “$500 Guarantee” that you will get a great deal when booking your vacation.
The Essential Little Cruise Book
An interesting twist with this book is that it is written by former cruise director Jim West, who has been aboard more than 500 cruises with tens of thousands of people. You'll get an insider's perspective on everything from finding the right travel agent to curing seasickness, and West even prints his personal phone number in case you have any questions after you're done reading.
100 Best Cruise Vacations of the World
Author Ted Scull limits the general-interest information in this book and instead focuses on 100 specific itineraries and ships that he rates as the best in the world. He discusses not only the areas where each cruise takes place, but also how being aboard different ships when you pull into different ports can really make a difference in your vacation.
Selling the Sea: An Inside Look at the Cruise Industry
If you want to dig a little deeper into what's really going on in the cruising world, get this book by Carnival Cruise Line president Bob Dickinson and travel expert Andy Vladimir. It will give you the insider's business-oriented take on how cruising has become such a mass-market phenomenon. Don't expect fun and light reading, though—this book is all about the almighty dollar.
Cruise Ship Blues: The Underside of the Cruise Industry
Ross A. Klein may depress you with his look at the things you won't find in any cruise brochure: ship-created pollution, widespread food poisoning, passenger safety concerns, workers’ conditions, and the myth of the “all-inclusive” deal. This book is muckraking in its finest sense, though some reviewers have said it's too full of touchy-feely complaints about what is, after all, a worldwide multibillion-dollar business.