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RiverSong

Has Trip Advisor killed the Berlitz Guide?

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You may not be aware but the Berlitz Guide to Cruising is now in its 31st year, and one man has remained at its helm Douglas Ward.   With an average of 200 days a year spent at sea his knowledge of the industry is second to none.  But how many still refer to what was once the “Cruise Bible”?   With on line forums (like this one) and Trip Advisor to name a few, has the internet killed the travel guide?

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It certainly seems that everyone tends to refer to Trip Advisor for comments and thoughts & ideas on where & what they can do whilst on holiday, I have to admit to using them myself.

Maybe Berlitz would be wise to go via a web route as well to preserve the brand

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Never having referred to the guide myself, I like to form my own opinions, is this a book based on one persons opinions or a collection from others. If the former then I would think that trip advisor and associated forums may provide a more open view or like the Chef says perhaps it should be available on the internet but then would it contain opinions from various people.

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Hi  Reviewing a cruise ship isn't easy and many passengers who leave a review don't have the cruise experience to compare it with others.  If I read a review of on this or other forums and a professional review in the Berlitz guide I always put more faith in the latter.  Their is plenty of information on the web and a lot of it is conflicting so I am wary of taking too much notice of many of the reviews.  In the age of "free" information I can understand why many passengers will take advantage of this but considering that the cost of getting impartial advice using a professional review is insignificant compared to the boarding fare of booking a cruise and so I still buy the Berlitz guide every few years.

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Guest Solent Richard

Hi  Reviewing a cruise ship isn't easy and many passengers who leave a review don't have the cruise experience to compare it with others.  If I read a review of on this or other forums and a professional review in the Berlitz guide I always put more faith in the latter.  Their is plenty of information on the web and a lot of it is conflicting so I am wary of taking too much notice of many of the reviews.  In the age of "free" information I can understand why many passengers will take advantage of this but considering that the cost of getting impartial advice using a professional review is insignificant compared to the boarding fare of booking a cruise and I still buy the Berlitz every few years.

 

Oh I do so agree with you Land Ahoy.

 

The main reason for that is the fact that the Berlitz Guide is 'objective  - observation of measurable facts and the very reason I place such importance on that particular publication.

 

It's another reason that when I write a review the bulk content of mine are also objective.

 

Forums are fine, particularly for the exchange of information regarding cruises. As has been proved on a number of occasions, Trip Advisor can easily be used as a medium for grumbles - well, so can forums.

 

I recently read a review on a forum regarding one of your favourite cruise lines, Azamara. Apparently the cabin, an outside stateroom... 'was very comfortable with plenty of room - 170 sq ft, which was bigger than we are used to on other lines'.  Frankly 170 sq ft is anything but spacious in my book and therefore would fall short on comfort. 

 

By the way, I have some kind of badge award for my contributions on Trip Advisor, again, under Solent Richard.

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Oh I do so agree with you Land Ahoy.

 

The main reason for that is the fact that the Berlitz Guide is 'objective  - observation of measurable facts and the very reason I place such importance on that particular publication.

 

It's another reason that when I write a review the bulk content of mine are also objective.

 

Forums are fine, particularly for the exchange of information regarding cruises. As has been proved on a number of occasions, Trip Advisor can easily be used as a medium for grumbles - well, so can forums.

 

I recently read a review on a forum regarding one of your favourite cruise lines, Azamara. Apparently the cabin, an outside stateroom... 'was very comfortable with plenty of room - 170 sq ft, which was bigger than we are used to on other lines'.  Frankly 170 sq ft is anything but spacious in my book and therefore would fall short on comfort. 

 

By the way, I have some kind of badge award for my contributions on Trip Advisor, again, under Solent Richard.

Hi  You are quite correct for my liking for Azamara cruise lines and I do consider them one of the best lines for value for money but I would never place them in the luxury segment of the cruise of the market for the reason you mentioned the cabins are small.  However, the food and service offered on board are very good and for my preferences are in an favour of these aspects of cruising and the cabin size isn't as high on my priorities.  I know that my preferences will bias my reviews in favour of cruise lines which offer good food and service over other facilities, whereas independent reviewers such as the Berlitz guide are more balanced than my experiences.

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You have to take any review with a pinch of salt. Just because a stateroom is large does not mean to say it is comfortable. I work on the basis that more people are preoared to complain about something that praise it, as can be seen from many pists on this forum.

A few straight forward facts are interesting but do not give tge feel for a ship. I have the cruise bible but only use it for numbers of cabins and size rather than quality of experience.

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I would always trust the Berlitz guide over TripAdvisor reviews. As both Land Ahoy and Solent Richard have pointed out, experience is crucial when putting together an objective and well-rounded review. I'm all for reviews on this forum and on TripAdvisor as we all should have somewhere to share our own experiences but quite often, and I include myself in this as I am guilty of it too, we write reviews based solely on ourselves, not considering how others might feel given the same cruising experience. The Berlitz is exceptional for covering all aspects of each line and ship, offering an all-round review.

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I receive a new copy of the Berlitz guide every year as it gives facts and figures on all new ships. It is also written by Doug Ward and his team who have an enviable cruising record. Who would you rather take notice of, someone who has done several hundreds of cruises on different ships or someone who has just completed their first cruise!!

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I think that one of the problems with amateur reviews generally is that the writers do not always ask themselves whether they have covered the important issues, and are they simply repeating what has already been said. Tripadvisor seem to have an abundance of the "everything was great" cheerleaders, interspersed by someone who is not happy and witters on about trivialities. However, there are lots of useful reviews out there if you can separate them from the "dross".

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 I have written on Trip Advisor a few times but not in last few years, Every month or so I get an email telling me I have earned a badge or such.

They try to ferret out the positive comments submitted by management or employees to entice one to that establishment

Overall TA is like many web content , compare the pros and cons and check other sources

 

As to Berlitz Guide, Mr Ward also employs some staff to do some of the leg work and the results are objective and factual. At times I think he has not updated content but trying out all the prior ships plus new ones is an adventure in itself. My daughter buys me the latest at times and it is good to swat flies with ,, sorry , a good read on all the ships and provides technical and passenger ratings

 

Back to Trip Advisor,,, I barely look at them as I have a hidden contact for best reviews, Solent Richard's blog   :) :)   

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Guest Solent Richard

 I have written on Trip Advisor a few times but not in last few years, Every month or so I get an email telling me I have earned a badge or such.

They try to ferret out the positive comments submitted by management or employees to entice one to that establishment

Overall TA is like many web content , compare the pros and cons and check other sources

 

As to Berlitz Guide, Mr Ward also employs some staff to do some of the leg work and the results are objective and factual. At times I think he has not updated content but trying out all the prior ships plus new ones is an adventure in itself. My daughter buys me the latest at times and it is good to swat flies with ,, sorry , a good read on all the ships and provides technical and passenger ratings

 

Back to Trip Advisor,,, I barely look at them as I have a hidden contact for best reviews, Solent Richard's blog   smile.pngsmile.png   

 

 

Same here Rob, writing reviews that is and earning a Trip Advisor badge.

 

I also get emails telling me how many folk have read those reviews.

 

I have a few in the pipeline at the moment but what with all this cruising and socialising there is not always the time.

 

I also write reviews for an excellent website for the 'over 50s' called Silvertraveladvisor

 

I did one not so long ago on an excellent quality and character hotel in Genoa...

 

http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/forums/travel-places/3543-grand-hotel-savoia-genoa#post_42298

 

where we stayed post cruise.

 

Funnily enough it should be linked to that discussion on the merits of Serrano Ham, they served exactly that at their breakfast table...

 

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I buy one every year.  I find it useful to compare ships ratings and size against each other.  I would trust this over trip advisor reviews as its been written by someone with experience of the industry.   Online reviews are handy but you have to really read all of them to get an average feel.  I would like to do Douglas Wards' job visiting the brand new ships every year!

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I recently commented on another thread on this forum questioning the impact of Trip Advisor on many peoples' decision making. The site has an incredible reputation these days and a tremendous influence on many people whether their looking at hotels, bars, restaurants, cruise lines, destinations and more. That said, it has become too easy to use Trip Advisor as a weapon against the hotel/bar/restaurant etc in question. Many people now view it as a tool to leverage such places into better service or upgrades or they will "post a terrible review". Owners, managers and staff have become so afraid of this due to the impact it can potentially have on their businesses image that many often bow down to such demands just at the mention of such reviews being left. The policing of the site needs to be much more prominent. I don't for one second believe that Trip Advisor are lackadaisical in their approach to it and I know it is very difficult to stay on top of but because of this it means you can often read misrepresentation of a place or businesses real self.

It's a shame that such a brilliant online tool is taken advantage of sometimes but sadly it is and that's the way of the world. It's precisely this reason why I think that the Berlitz Guide still holds a strong position in guiding cruise passengers. The experience of each cruise line that Douglas Ward has is incredible and his knowledge is constantly evolving with each visit/cruise he takes. It is an objective view of each cruise line that can really help 'new to cruise' passengers or passengers that are looking at trying a cruise line for the first time, with expert knowledge and detailed advice delivered in a suitable style for all to understand.

I do think there's a place for the Berlitz Guide online though. There should be a sign up fee so as to make a fair comparison with purchasing a hard copy of the guide itself, but it would allow people to have their say on it too and to ask questions directly to Douglas Ward that may not have been commented on in the book.

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I am an active poster on TripAdvisor but would not dream of using that for any gain. I believe we should post an "as found" review so everyone can get a clear idea of what a place is really like.

i would love to see Berlitz put their guides online so they are up to date and do not cost £s everytime you want to update them.

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I post and read reviews and ask and answer questions on TripAdvisor as well as other cruise forums.  It is quite easy to sort out genuine reviews and I have had great help with planning trips from other users.  I have looked at the Berliitz guide, but find it out of date by the time it is printed.  Details change so quickly in the cruise/travel industry.  I know the features that are important to me and research those on line in my planning process.

Sheila

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