Thursday, January 21, 2010

Avid Cruiser - After Reading the Posts on the Seabourn Odyssey Should Be Renamed Avid Loser - Seriously, What Gives?

After writing this post I feel it needs a preface.  There is so much misinformation being provided by supposed "experts" that people that just want honest and valid information scour the internet...and then are horribly misled.  It is an illness in the travel industry that cannot be healed without some serious surgery.

The spread of knowingly dishonest and paid to be knowingly biased (is that different or just worded less offensively?) as well as well-intentioned but inaccurate information not only makes my job as a travel agent harder, it can unfairly turn your joy of travel into a scary ordeal or, worse, essentially defraud you into purchasing a cruise (or other vacation) that is neither what you expected or your best option.  With that preface...

As many of you know I have been quite vocal about Ralph Grizzle's Avid Cruiser website and its rather shameless plugging of Silversea without disclosing he is paid by Silversea and creates promotional videos for the cruise line.  (There is some good stuff there too, but this issue is just so blatant.) However, I have kept my thoughts to myself about his obvious bias against Seabourn (alas it is not only "pro-Silversea). 

Bias you say?  Well, take a look on his site and you will see that anything Silversea is prominent and anything Seabourn is tucked away.  When you find the main page for the present blog on the first leg of the Seabourn Odyssey World Cruise the first thing you will note is that even thought the Seabourn Odyssey has been sailing around (and Avid Cruiser has been aboard three times) only a three year old sketch of the ship, not a photograph, is present. 

Then you will notice that in the corner of every page mentioning the Seabourn Odyssey is his circa October 2009 silly "comparison" article comparing the half-built Silver Spirit vs. the Seabourn Odyssey.  (I previously commented on that farce of "journalism".)  I wonder why that article hasn't been replaced with one actually comparing the two.  I mean, Grizzle was blogging daily from the Odyssey on her first voyage and was quick to point out niggling little things like the management of the marina (observed only on its first day-ever- being in operation) needs to be better...but there is silence about the Silversea Silver Spirit's first sailings.

So now Avid Cruiser has a person posting from the first leg of the Seabourn Odyssey's World Cruise. After reading posts which seem to be from a novice cruiser - though apparently one who has been on a prior World Cruise - his brief observations rapidly devolved into a lengthy complaint that his stewardess mistakenly removed his personal hot sauce from the suite (presuming it was the ship's) when removing his room service dishes; albeit noting it was recovered from the ship's pantry.  Then the blog was about a tourist trap restaurant (Senor Frog's) in Cabo San Lucas and his plight to guess music so he would score a free drink.  (The curious prior comments about being surprised by things such as wearing a Hawaiian shirt to dinner...and being shocked some men wore sport jackets, no announcements, etc. and refusing to order room service dinner course by course because it seemed strange, etc. made it seem to me that there was a chicken in a cow pasture.)

I pause and ask, isn't the blog supposed to be about the ship, its offerings, its entertainment, etc?  How's this for a description of Restaurant 2 (which, by the way, is an extremely popular dining experience and, as such, the only reservations required dining venue on the ship):  "I couldn’t figure out the courses, or how we would order what appealed to us.  It worked this way: Each paragraph describes a course that is served on an oblong plate. Each described food is deposited on the plate in small separate portions. Tasty for sure, with immediate service and explanations of each course. It was an out-of-the-ordinary culinary experience."  Not "extraordinary", but "out-of-the-ordinary".  Food is not "presented", but "deposited".  And its description other than "tasty"...nonexistent.  Folks, this "expert" didn't even understand that you are given 2 different selections that compliment and contrast...or he intentionally left the essential element out of his description to misleadingly make it sound strange and uninspired.

So then there is the last post, Seabourn Odyssey Last Day.   This guy, who misquoted the rate for an hour's interest usage as $69.99 and later corrected it (and then edited his blog so the error no longer appears!) spent two paragraphs complaining that the dollar-peso exchange rate was misquoted in the Seabourn Herald (due to simple, innocent, error)...and then noted Seabourn corrected it. 

Not done being "one of them", rather than complimenting that within 30 minutes of being advised of the problem, Seabourn repaired the forward hottub which had been fouled by an inconsiderate guest who apparently deposited significant amounts of sand into it, he complained the condition existed. 

But then is my favorite.  Lunch in the Colonnade is served until 2:00 p.m.  He shows up and expects that "being served until 2:00 p.m." doesn't mean "served" it means "If you arrive by 2:00 p.m. you will be served  whatever you want for as long as you want until you are done."  To quote this "expert", "To me this means I can enter at 1:55 and get my meal."  He then complains for three paragraphs about his finding limited options at the Colonnade as service - ending at 2:00 p.m. was winding down.

Folks: On January 20th Seabourn held its Galley Luncheon, which is truly spectacular and offers a phenomenal array of dishes which you select walking through the main galley.  Why this "avid" cruiser failed to even mention this "Seabourn Signature Experience" no less partake of it (I mean he is supposed to be telling you about the ship isn't he) escapes me.  When added to his late arrival the Colonnade was almost empty (a point he also failed to mention).  Fair?  Objective?  Accurate?  Informative?  Me thinks not!

His concluding sentences is the giveaway:  "Is Seabourn Odyssey the best ship afloat? Many think so, but there are competitors that have acolytes of their own. I’ll be writing about this in an upcoming blog."  Huh???? This guy was blown out of the water because he brought too many Hawaiian shirts and focused on singing for a free drink at a Mexican tourist trap.  He is not an "expert" or even an "avid" cruiser.  He is an "amateur"...an honestly nothing more.

Let's contrast the foregoing with some real cruisers, shall we? On The Gold Standard Travel Forum I have been posting entries from the blog posts people of I know and people I don't who have been on the same leg of the Seabourn Odyssey's World Cruise.  As one blogger wrote, "Lunch today was a special galley lunch entitled ‘Seabourn Signature Event’ and the buffet was served in the galley so that we could see how the kitchens were run. We were then escorted to a table in the main restaurant to dine and desserts were set out on a large table. We both had a vast selection of food for our starters ranging from sushi and sea food to crab filled avocado and Mediterranean vegetables. I don’t know how we then managed a main course but we trotted off into the galley to survey the vast array of choices. I had a small portion of stir fried ginger chicken with rice because I just couldn’t face much more than that. DH had baked honey glazed ham with roasted vegetables. We decided against looking at the dessert table!"  Gee, do you think they were on the same Seabourn Odyssey????

Now, if you really look through the Avid Cruiser website you will find the following video on the Seabourn Odyssey.  Fortunately, the video does the talking:



Now, feel free to read and compare the Avid Cruiser's glowing reviews of the Silversea Silver Spirit, the five little annoyances he finds with the Seabourn Odyssey, and the comparisons between the two ships...and after reading the Seabourn Odyssey World Cruise thread,  read what real people are saying about the Silver Spirit on The Gold Standard Forum:  First Impressions; Issues for the Physically Challenged; and, Maiden Transatlantic Review.

As they say, I am just trying to "keep it real."