We are experienced cruisers. (About 12 times: Alaska, Scandinavia, Russia, Mediterranean, Panama, US Rivers, etc.) Douglass Ward's work always both entertains and helps. Both broad philosophies and specific details for both new and veteran travelers prove on, or very-close to, target.
Having noticed a decent offer for a cruise on a ship we knew nothing about, we decided to buy the Berlitz guide to cruising 2009. This proved to ease our minds considerably as it had a satisfactory write-up, so we booked. The guide gave us all the info we wanted, regarding size of cabins, restaurants and usual facilities, not exactly 5 star but near enough. We sail in September - fingers crossed!!
The Berlitz Complete Cruise Guides are something that no travel professional should be without. They are an exceptionally comprehensive and unbiased review of every ship travelling the oceans. I don't know where I'd be without it!!