Thursday, January 1, 2009

Postings on Cruise Message Boards and Blogs: The Difference Between Constructive Opinion and Personal Attacks

I have received a number of requests to comment on the post of someone ("Admiral Horatio Nelson" who says he is a former Regent Seven Seas Cruises employee) on Cruise Critic and Luxury Cruise Talk that were pulled.  I had said that I would post something, so here it is...

As many of you know I have very strong opinions on various topics and will not pull a punch when it comes to calling someone out for not telling the truth or if I think their perception is wrong or if they are cheerleading. 

What I won't do is engage in, or endorse, personal attacks against someone who has not posted their position or is not in the public eye...or deals with a situation not posted by someone.  To do so puts out possibly false or inaccurate information or violates someone's personal privacy.  That is, to my mind, far different from the Cruise Critic "You weren't there, so you are not allowed to comment" policy...especially when information from other sources is know.

I tried to find a way to edit the Admiral's comments as they do have some interesting perspectives, but they are really far too engaged in personal attacks against people that simply have no way to respond and also could be inaccurate (one's perception is one thing, but the comments made go beyond that).  Reading them, they could simply be designed to inflict injury on Regent Seven Seas Cruises or the named employees, rather than to discuss facts or ways to improve various situations they may exist.

That said, what I will say is, as I read the Admiral's comments, he asserts that the handling of employees changed markedly from the days of Radisson Seven Seas Cruises and became one focused on stifling crew input and solidifying one's position rather than bettering the product.  These opinions are actually very common in a very corporate structured entity; as it feeds on preserving oneself rather than improving the company ala General Motors, Wall St., etc.

The interesting thing is that the Admiral seems to be complaining that Regent's operations are being transformed into a part, or mirror, of Oceania's.  As you all know I wrote about the Oceanification of Regent months ago.  Unfortunately, the Admiral seems to conclude this is a bad thing, but when the personal attacks are stripped away, there is no substance to back up the outrage. 

While I actually do agree that Mark Conroy seems to be devolving into nothing more than a figurehead and that all the hype he previously provided about improvements, the new ship, etc. all seemed to be swept aside by Prestige Cruise Holdings and most of "his" people have left or be asked to leave, I do not necessarily come to the same conclusion that Oceanification is a bad thing.  I must honestly state that my initial impression was that it was not a good thing, but when things kept getting worse at Regent - in my opinion - change to better efficiencies, performance, crew training, etc. even if similar/the same as Oceania's is a good option.

Regent, by many standards, has been backsliding.  Even the sanitized Cruise Critic forum has become rather regularly filled with the complaints I mentioned - and was battered for - a year ago.  It was the basis, in part, for Mark Conroy to write his open letter on Cruise Critic and Luxury Cruise Talk.  So is change a bad thing?  I think not.

As I have stated, and as the Admiral does, and as Mark Conroy notes, the crew needs to be better trained and better cared for.  If that means changing Human Resource personnel (and I would strongly assert those that created the problem which is admittedly so vast rarely can be a major part of the solution...part of the retraining, possibly; but not the solution) and other areas of management, shipboard controls, etc., so be it.

But when having this discussion we can be upset, and even bitter (from job issues or passenger letdowns), we need to be civil and respectful.