From The Washington Post:
A few decades ago, a nicely appointed library was one of a cruise ship’s star attractions. But then came climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, hand-carved carousels, 4-D theaters, zip lines and surfing simulators. Plus e-readers, tablets and smartphones.
That spacious mahogany library stuffed with thousands of volumes suddenly had lots of competition. Some lines, such as Disney, which launched in the late 1990s, decided to forego libraries altogether. Others, including Carnival and Seabourn, dressed them up with wine bars and coffee stations. And a few, such as Cunard and Oceania, have stayed with tradition.
John Money, co-owner of Ocean Books, has been designing and supplying ship libraries since the 1970s and still works with several lines, including Silversea, Cunard and Oceania. Even he is resigned to the effect that technology and competition for attention and dollars have had on the old library model. “There is a revenue manager on board every ship, and they need to get the maximum amount of cash from each passenger,” Money said, noting that libraries typically are not big money-makers. Technology has also chipped away at the ship library concept. “Even I read on my iPad now,” Money said.
Linda Garrison, who has sailed on about 125 cruises in her 15-plus years as cruise writer for About.com, has also noticed the shrinking space devoted to ship libraries and the increasing number of passengers toting e-readers. And she’s observed something that seems counterintuitive: Oftentimes, the bigger the ship, the smaller the library. “Large cruise ships just have too many things to do, and most of their guests are not on vacation to sit in a quiet space reading a book,” Garrison said. “On the flip side, smaller luxury ships without a lot of onboard activities or entertainment often have larger libraries.”
. . . .
Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 has the largest library at sea, with about 10,000 volumes: 8,400 in English, 800 in German and the rest in Japanese, Spanish and French. Staffed by full-time librarians, the collection holds a wide variety of materials, including bestsellers, classics and travel guides. Lush carpeting, leather sofas and armchairs, rich wood-and-glass shelves and semi-private Internet stations would be the envy of any public library. The two-deck-high libraries aboard the line’s two other ships, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, also get high marks, holding approximately 8,000 and 7,000 volumes, respectively, in various languages.
. . . .
The handsomely appointed library aboard Silversea’s 100-passenger Silver Galapagos features more than 300 books devoted to Charles Darwin, the Galapagos Islands and evolution, including several copies of Darwin’s landmark works “On the Origin of Species” and “The Voyage of the Beagle.” The library aboard this expedition cruise ship, which sails exclusively among the Galapagos Islands, also offers an extensive collection of maps and charts of the archipelago.
Link to the rest at The Washington Post
PG and Mrs. PG have had the privilege of taking a few cruises and enjoyed them very much.
PG suggests you don’t assume any cruise ship library will have books you would like to read and bring your own. Load up your tablet or ereader before you depart so you don’t have to worry about sloooow shipboard internet connections and possible geographical restrictions on what you can buy.
As for the best places to read on a ship (other than your cabin which may or may not have a good reading space), PG heads for the glitzy bars and night clubs during the daytime when the bars are closed. Typically, they’re not locked, at least on the ships on which the PG’s have traveled. He finds comfortable chairs in these quiet and mostly-empty establishments. The only people he sees are other readers.
When the ship is in port, the PG’s are typically running around on shore but, depending upon the cruise, there may be some sea days when the ship is traveling from one place to another in the daytime instead of just at night or a few ports where a couple of hours on shore is all you’re interested in seeing. A nice place to read is a great pleasure under those circumstances.