Friday, December 26, 2008

What Value Are The Cruise Critic Message Boards For Luxury Travelers?

On December 23, 2008, the same day politicians make announcements so that media does not pick up on less than positive news, Mark Conroy, President of Regent Seven Seas Cruises took the extraordinary step of posting an open letter on Cruise Critic trying to explain what is going on at Regent.  (I will post that in a seperate entry.)

Before providing you with the letter, I want to say that it pretty much acknowledges everything I have posted here (and did post on Cruise Critic) since I realized Regent was for sale and then was sold, to wit:  The product has been suffering and there were/are big changes coming. (See, for example, http://goldringtravel.blogspot.com/2008/06/oceania-fication-of-regent-seven-seas.html.)

Juxtaposed, there are the Cruise Critic cheerleaders that have...and incredibly continue to...claim all is well at Regent and the product is wonderful.  These are the same people that made personal attacks upon me and the Board Host that allowed it to happen.  Is that because Cruise Critic has any interest in its boards actually providing good, solid, information?  Absolutely not.

Cruise Critic has allowed itself to spiral down from what once was a top-flight place to find good solid information on luxury travel to one where cliques are the norm (especially on the Seabourn board), cheerleaders provide what seems to be knowingly false information (especially on the Regent board), and critics (as in the name Cruise Critic) are actively abused by other posters and cautioned by the hosts not to comment about clearly fabricated or skewed experiences because "they weren't there".  (Always wondered how it is that people are permitted to comment on the handling of bad tours being a consistent problem, but not the supposed mishandling of an another sort of incident.)

Hopefully Mark Conroy's letter - which refreshingly does acknowlege many of the problems that have existed - will be a wake up call for Cruise Critic that it has been doing a lousy job over the past many months and that maybe...just maybe...it might want to refocus on what it's name as to who and what content it should be managing.

To be fair (as I always try to be), there is some value in viewing the Cruise Critic luxury boards.  There is some good information provided if you can weave your way around the clutter and stomach the cheerleading and personal attacks.  I know that if it - like Regent (ironically) - stuck to what it was, it would be good...really good.