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Keukenhof Gardens Boat Tour through tulip fields in spring in Holland. Photo courtesy of Dennis Cox/WorldViews
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Hit the Road: Photographer celebrates water travel

Where there is water, there are boats, and paging through “Cruising the World: From Gondolas to Megaships,” readers can see just how many different vessels row, sail, paddle and steam up the rivers, lakes, canals and oceans of our world.

In his book, photographer Dennis Cox gives us 535 striking color photos of boats and ships from 77 countries on seven continents in this large-format, 208-page, hardcover volume (available May 10).

Award-winning travel writer and lifelong friend Clark Norton provides the text, which covers the history and high points of the cruising industry, life at various global ports and additional information on Cox’s instructive and often remarkable images.

Inspiration for the book grew from the need to find a home for Cox’s collection of photos amassed over 40 years. (Cox has been to China 50 times alone.)

“I had accumulated a lot of photos of cruises and didn’t know what to do with them,” the award-winning photographer explained in a call from his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Eventually, he included 37 kinds of vessels in the book — from high-tech megaships (Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas carries up to 6,680 passengers and about 2,200 crew) to oar-powered sampans, small ancient boats in Asia used for fishing, transportation and sometimes living quarters.

The timing of producing and releasing the book “is interesting because I finished just in time before the coronavirus hit,” Cox explained. “I couldn’t go an any more cruises (now). The lines are closed down. Three of the liners that were stuck at sea, I’d been on.”

Cruising the World: From Gondolas to Megaships
“Cruising the World: From Gondolas to Megaships” is photographer Dennis Cox’s 14th book. The Ann Arbor, Michigan, resident has been photographing vessels plying the world’s rivers, lakes, canals and oceans for more than four decades. Photo courtesy of Dennis Cox /WorldViews

Of these “heavyweights of the seas,” as he calls them, Cox writes in his blog, “Cruise ships are no longer the staid vessels with the same standard activities and venues industry wide. Over the past decade, a transformation has taken place.

They have been converted from floating hotels — usually with a pool and shuffleboard — into dynamic floating cities competing to provide innovations that either provide something for everyone or attract, or solidify their hold on, a particular customer niche.

Water slides and flying bicycles for families, rock climbing walls and surf riding for young adults, and hit Broadway musicals and five-star restaurants for the sophisticated traveler are just a few examples.”

That said, with this pandemic, the cruise industry is facing perilous times, but Cox has no doubt that it will return as strong as ever.

“Lots of people are anxious to get back on cruise ships,” he said. He follows several cruise-fan Facebook groups and some of these people “have three or four cruises booked.”

COVID-19 has given Cox an excuse to slow a bit — at least for a while.

“I’ve been doing three or four cruises a year for last three or four years,” he said. “I’ve been looking for (boats) that I didn’t have and geographic coverage that I didn’t have. I’m enjoying the rest now but will probably get stir-crazy. I know I don’t want to be home for the next 18 months.”

Asked about his favorite destination, Cox hesitated, then said “going someplace new,” but there also are places to which he’d like to return.

“I took a Viking (River) Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest. The best thing on that cruise was photographing castles on the Rhine. (During the river cruise), you only get off once to go to a castle and most of the time you’re shooting all the castles from the ship. I would like to go back and spend more time at the castles.”

Read Cox’s commentary on cruising at

To order a copy of “Cruising the World,” visit

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