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It is true you can get away with a car stereo. They are about half the price. However, I can't seem to get more then a few years out of a CD player; they just seem to die out on me. The current cd player has given out again (radio portion works fine) so I am switching to a Fusion Ipod docking station instead. No moving parts and I use the Ipod more these days anyway. Only problem is the sole vendor for the Fusion is West Marine.
CD's are soooo 1989. Get an iPod. You can have your entire music collection onboard and never have to mess with jewel cases or loading CD's. I intially longed for a unit with an iPod dock, but after using my FM modulator I've found that it works fine and I can plug it into the 12v jack in the cockpit which allows me to change tunes or pause the music from the helm which is great.

I liked it so much I got over enthusiastic and blew one of my cockpit speakers, so I'll be replacing those before we splash again. For that you do need the marine version.
 
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