Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Where Did the "Critic" in Cruise Critic Go?

As many of you know, I had posted for years on Cruise Critic under the moniker of Iamboatman. My postings have stopped essentially because the concept of "critical" discussion of cruise lines has become forbidden and anyone who dares challenge a poster's comments could summarily have his/her posts removed, be suspended or banned.

In essence, a great message board to find and exchange ideas now has become a "Don't bother us asking a question you don't already know the answer to" and a "I can say anything I want, and you cannot criticize me for it or challenge it."

I have looked at the boards from time to time, especially the Regent Seven Seas and Seabourn boards and find them to be not only boring, but absent any real content...with very few people posting because (obviously) actual discussion of issues, concerns or ideas has been significantly suppressed.

For example, there is presently a thread on the Regent board trying to find out about a particular "Circle of Interest" program on Regent Seven Seas which Regent couldn't provide her/him information on. The poster started that thread after her/his first thread wondering about what it was that justified Regent in charging such high cruise fare was hijacked into a discussion of vodka and how one particular person (who feels she must respond to every one of my posts) only drinks premium vodka while she is cruising on Regent. That same person advised the poster in her new thread to ask her travel agent rather than get information on the message board. WHAT?

What would I have posted? As to the Circle of Interest inquiry, I would have confirmed one poster's comment that Regent has used it as a marketing ploy and that from what I have seen and heard it is generally little more than an expensive (for the client) marketing ploy that has been played out...so Regent is discontinuing the program. And why would it train its staff to encourage a failing program?

As to the first thread, I would have posted that the value simply isn't there relative to the price...if you are questioning it yourself. When the supporters of Regent's policy are acting with faux "status" by upscaling their vodka while onboard, it only confirms to me that they are the same people that fall for the "smoke and mirrors" Regent has been using for the past few years as they endorse the same practices.

To be sure, not everyone who cruises Regent is of that sort; to be sure the majority probably aren't. But when the discussion of what the heck is happening to Regent with its hugely increased prices, its inconsistent service, its changing of hotel, food, etc. sourcing to Oceania's, is met by the "smoke and mirrors" people defending Regent as a sort of holy grail...and the hosts of Cruise Critic barring that discussion, the utility of the message board fails.

In another instance, a poster on the Seabourn board simply made up event(s) (literally pulling one of them from an old thread) and when challenged by that fact as well as facts obtained from others onboard, Cruise Critic defended the original poster's right and removed the challenges under the theory of "you were not there, so how could you know." So the misinformation stayed and the accurate info was removed.

The result is, as is clear from the present state of both the Regent and Seabourn boards, is that everyone is now left with a pretty meaningless site when, not so long ago, it was a great place to find out information.

I would hope that from what seems to be a clear tailspin from being a great source of relevant information, those that run Cruise Critic will change their philosophy and put the "critic" back in Cruise Critic.