Cruise Ship Blues: The Underside of the Cruise Industry


203 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-86571-462-2
DDC 387.5'42




Reviewed by Gordon Turner

Gordon Turner is the author of Empress of Britain: Canadian Pacific’s
Greatest Ship and the editor of SeaFare, a quarterly newsletter on sea


The cruise industry has grown rapidly in the last 15 years; its annual
passenger count has reached 12 million worldwide. Glossy brochures
promise an idyllic holiday under sunny Caribbean skies, alongside
imposing Alaskan glaciers or in historic European cities in ships that
provide top-rated service, modern staterooms, fine cuisine, and a wide
range of entertainment. Ross Klein, a seasoned cruise traveler, asks us
to take a second look, to compare image with reality.

He discusses the concept of a cruise being an all-inclusive holiday (it
rarely has been in cruising’s long history) against the current trend
of keeping basic fares low and offering numerous on-board options at
additional cost. He looks at the manner in which cruise lines address
(or fail to address) passenger complaints. He writes about waiters and
stewards, mostly from Third World countries, who work long hours for low
wages, and how this affects passenger service. Safety and security
aboard ship merit a complete chapter, as do environmental
considerations. Pollution infractions have long plagued cruise lines;
newer ships have installed improved technology, yet violations still

Occasional statements seem ill founded, such as “Very few brochures
indicate the actual square footage of the [cabin].” This reviewer
picked 10 brochures at random; seven listed the dimensions for nearly
all cabins. The author writes of ships under construction that have in
fact not progressed beyond a set of blueprints. Nevertheless, this is
generally a well-researched book. It offers guidance for anyone who
attempts to reduce or eliminate real or potential problems, whether they
deal with personal safety, passenger satisfaction, or environmental

Cruise Ship Blues invites the cruise industry to take an honest look at
what it promises and what it actually delivers. Sometimes there is a
wide gap, and Klein sees a strong need to close it.


Klein, Ross A., “Cruise Ship Blues: The Underside of the Cruise Industry,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 21, 2024,