Being an avid cruiser myself, in fact, being a travel agent for over 25 years specializing in cruises, I was skeptical that I would see anything new in “The Cruise Traveler’s Handbook“. Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised by what I did find here including several really helpful resources. Vacationers both new to cruising and those with strong sea legs will find many things about this book to like.
For the vacationer new to cruising, and especially for those that think cruising is not for them, Bembridge takes on the challenge of encouraging and educating. From showing in an entertaining and enlightening way why even those that don’t think they will like cruising should give it a try, to dispelling myths by meeting them head-on, and providing short bullet-point-type answers to questions and arguments, Bembridge not just shows the reader how to enjoy his chosen way to vacation, but does it in such a way as to not gloss over the less than desirable parts.
This book is virtually a one-stop-shop on everything cruising. Detailing different types of cruises from what appears to be a non-American sensibility made me realize all there is out there to experience that us Americans so often overlook. “The Cruise Traveler’s Handbook” doesn’t just tell us to party-on every night on a liquor induced high surrounded by other people’s kids and the spring break chaos of some cruise lines, but encourages us to find a cruise that fits our personality and budget because there are so many options to choose from. Why not check out Antarctica, or a river cruise, or take the opportunity to meet new people and experience new cultures? This book opens your eyes to these choices that shouldn’t necessarily be “new” but are always a great way of enhancing any travel experience.
From a more seasoned cruiser perspective, I really enjoyed the sections ongoing behind the scenes on a ship and loved that Bembridge made a point to show that it is important to realize that not everything is perfect on these floating vacation meccas. He points out some of the less than glamorous things that the typical American TV or magazine commercial doesn’t show but does it in a way that educates, doesn’t preach, and even excites.
My only real criticism of this guide is that aside from one quick mention of travel agents, he does, from my perspective, short change the importance of working with travel agents. He mentions them in passing but does not hone in on how important, especially to someone considering their first cruise, this resource can be to not only improving the possibility that you will love your trip but to saving you money and ensuring your vacation success. One thing I missed when looking through the resource section was the contact information for the cruise lines, so maybe either sub-consciously or by design Bembridge was encouraging you to use travel agents, but a more direct approach might have made the traveler more successful. And travelers who nowadays think that they can book everything online can now use this book AND the travel agent to improve their vacation success tremendously.
I have been on over 30 cruises in the last 25 years and I know how wonderful they can be! But now I also know more about what I have missed so far and what goals to keep in mind when planning my next trip! The short hour or so that it took to read through this guide was time well spent and I will recommend this book to friends and clients as well…….. Nice job!
Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was given to a volunteer with the expectation that a fair and honest review would be written of it.