Friday, 10 January 2014

Berlitz star ratings and expedition ships - do they fit the model?

Hapag-Lloyd's HANSEATIC - the only expedition ship rated five-star by Berlitz
The first thing anyone should know about ‘star ratings’ and expedition ships is that they don’t fit the model devised by Douglas Ward for ranking conventional cruise ships.

Instead of chandeliers and waist-coated service staff, investment goes directly into passenger enrichment. Knowledgeable and tertiary-qualified guides, expedition equipment (Zodiacs, diving kit etc) and the costs involved with operating small groups in remote and inhospitable environments with little or no infrastructure make small ship adventure cruising an expensive business. Passengers invariably come for the destination-focussed experience, not the all-night buffet or cabaret shows.

So when you see a lowly star-rating against any of these ships which are booked to near-capacity all year round, don’t equate this with the quality of expedition experience offered.

And if you want to toss around ‘five-star’ as some in the industry are prone to do, then you must be talking about Hapag-Lloyd’s Hanseatic, far and away the world’s top expedition ship – as far as Berlitz is concerned at any rate – and the only one to achieve their five star rating.

Berlitz Rated Expedition and Adventure Cruise Ships

Vessel

Hanseatic
Silver Explorer
Hebridean Princess
Orion
Caledonian Sky
Bremen
Corinthian II
Le Boreal
L’Austral
Firty Years of Victory
Tere Moana
Celebrity Expedition
Le Ponant
Fram
Clipper Odyssey
Galapagos Explorer II
Sea Spirit
Ocean Diamond
Akademik Ioffe
Polar Pioneer
Ortelius
Clipper Adventurer
Spirit of Enderby
NG Endeavour
Wilderness Adventurer
NG Explorer
NG Sea Bird/Sea Lion

Points  

1746
1684
1680
1612
1601
1553
1546
1543
1543
1448
1415
1404
1385
1321
1245
1244
1222
1222
1065
996
963
948
947
945
908
856
743
Rating

5 Star
4.5 star
4.5 star
4.5 Star
4.5 star
4.5 star
4 star
4 Star
4 Star
4 star
4 star
4 star
3.5 star
3.5 star
3 star
3 star
3.5 star
3.5 star
2.5 star
2 star
2.5 star
2 star
2 star
2 star
2 star
2 star
1.5 star

Source: Ward, Douglas (2012-09-15). Berlitz: Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships 2013 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (Kindle Location 28488). APA. Kindle Edition.