Stern's Guide to the Greatest Resorts of the World, Stern's Guide to the Cruise Vacation, Stern's Guide to European Riverboats and Hotel Barges, and The Indispensable Guide to Foreign Words and Phrases--by Steven B. Stern (Sponsored by Stern's Travel Guides, Ltd.)
     
 
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European River Cruising--Stern v. Ward (comparison by Kevin Griffin Cruise People weekly report
BY KENNETH GRIFFIN MONDAY NOVEMBER 17, 2014 10:27:14 AM  
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European River Cruising Guides: Stern vs Ward –  

by Kevin Griffin

Two interesting new books have just arrived on our desk, in Steven B Stern’s “European Riverboats and Hotel Barges” and Douglas Ward’s “Berlitz Guide to River Cruising in Europe”, both hot off the presses. This week, we review and compare the two books for our readers.

European River Cruising Guides: Stern vs Ward

This week two books have arrived on our desk that deal exclusively with river cruising. The first, Steven Stern’s “European Riverboats and Hotel Barges” was published for the first time last year and is now in its second edition while Douglas Ward’s “Berlitz Guide to River Cruising in Europe” is in its first edition.

Here is our comparison of the two.

Ward’s book covers 281 river ships, of which 62 have names beginning with the latter “A” and 44 areViking ships. Here are some of the ratings the best-known lines have achieved in each book. The ratings do of course vary by ship:

The companies themselves are covered differently in each book but it interesting to see Scenic Tours and Tauck Tours come tops in Steven Stern’s ratings while AMA Waterways takes the prize with Douglas Ward.

While Stern dedicates 82 pages to describing the companies (including ratings for each vessel), Ward dedicates 142 pages to laying out his individual ship reviews, with each vessel getting a half page with ratings on hardware, accommodation, cuisine, service and other things.

While Ward restricts himself to four pages of background on the operators, he does include some that are not covered by Stern (Abercrombie & Kent, APT, Noble Caledonia, etc). But Stern gives more information, from one paragraph to fifteen for each operator, as well as the strong points for each. Stern’s book also includes some sample programs and menus, although not for each line.

Somewhat astonishing in Stern’s book, at least to Europeans, is the fact that in the midst of Europe’s best vineyards Viking recommends American white and red wines, at least in the sample given. Uniworld make up for this somewhat by recommending an Italian red but still a South African white.

Here is a summary of how the two books cover the subject at hand:

(Stern's Guide is also available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble both in paper  back and as a color e-book.)

In sum, both books have their strengths, and if I had to choose I might buy both. But if you are looking for a hotel barge holiday then the decision has to be go with Stern. He provides much useful information, including a page for each barge and ratings for each as well.

If you want to know a little more about the riverboats then Ward provides more information per vessel at a half page each as opposed to two or three lines in Stern’s volume. If one subtracts the barge pages (8 for description, 68 for listings and 32 for rivers) from Stern’s work that leaves 173 pages for the river ships compared to Ward’s 255.

Both books make an interesting and helpful read and each takes its own view. While Ward’s work might include a little more information on river cruising, Stern’s includes many useful illustrations, especially for hotel barges –

here!
 
 
     
 
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