LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y., Nov. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- For the seventh consecutive year, Europa, the luxury Hapag-Lloyd Cruises flagship, attained the highest scores in the most categories to top the list in Berlitz Publishing's annual cruising guide: Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships 2007, due in bookstores this month.
Europa earned 1,858 points this year out of 2,000 to match last year's total. The winning ship is so high-scoring in all areas that author Douglas Ward, renowned authority on cruise ships, created a new class for the ship in an earlier edition: Five Stars Plus.
Seventeen luxury ships in addition to Europa scored high enough for the prestigious Five Stars Club. Membership remains unchanged from last year; only a few ships received varying scores from 2006. In numerical order, this year's Five Stars Club members are:
1. Europa 10. Silver Cloud 2. SeaDream II 11. Silver Wind 3. SeaDream I 12. Queen Mary 2 (Grill Class) 4. Seabourn Legend 13. Sea Cloud II 5. Seabourn Pride 14. Sea Cloud 6. Seabourn Spirit 15. Crystal Serenity 7. Silver Shadow 16. Crystal Symphony 8. Silver Whisper 17. Seven Seas Mariner 9. Hanseatic 18. Seven Seas Voyager
"Even though a cruise ship may claim to be a luxury vessel, most of the time it actually isn't. Cruise goers should realize the differences between luxury cruises and other ships," Ward says. "On true luxury sailings, passengers are provided with the finest services by a staff that knows each guest by name. Menus typically contain items like caviar and foie gras; bathrooms are constructed of elegant marble; and crowds in common areas like the pool deck are virtually nonexistent."
In each edition of Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships, Ward emphasizes that there is no best cruise line; different lines are appropriate for different people depending on what they are looking for in a vacation: luxury, romance, adventure, teen fun, etc.
Ward urges readers to not only look at star ratings but to also consider ship's numbers, which are exceptionally precise. He prides himself on his highly objective rating system, which he has used for the past 22 years. "These numbers reflect my evaluations in the most unbiased way."
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