Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Use Caution When Reading Cruise Critic - Self-Importance Rather Than Substance Is The Rule! (Crystal and Seabourn Examples)

I am not quite finished with my review of my experiences on the April 17, 2011 cruise of the Crystal Symphony, but last night I wandered over to Cruise Critic to see what was posted by any of the 15 or so members that were on the same cruise. Keeping in mind that those 15 people represent less than 2% of the people on the ship and only one of the 15 actually posted anything about the cruise (representing less than 0.1% of the passengers). 

The one poster is a retired actuary from Maryland going by the moniker Rafinmd.  He posted his travelogue, most of which was more perfunctory  - lists of foods, events, etc. - than interesting (not a criticism, but an observation); possibly because his view is from an actuary who also writes about his exercise routine. 
(I look at these things because who writes or observes is generally extremely important when I consider what the poster writes...You should too.)

Then I read this following post:

"My afternoon excursion was "Volunteering at Fort Stevens State Park"...At 1PM 19 of us were escorted out to a waiting school bus for the 30-minute ride to the park...We were taken to a beachside parking spot near the 1909 wreck of the Peter Iredale. We were given gloves and bags and headed out to pick up trash on the beach. I walked about a half mile up the beach and collected a full bag of trash, mostly plastic and about 50% appeared to be bottled water discards, by far the largest single category. While sunny, there was about a 30mph wind on the beach and we were all quite ready for warming up on the bus when we returned from our rounds."

If you recall, my family (four of the group...and my children were not doing this voluntourism work for school credit, but because giving back to the community is the right thing to do - and my son is engaging in another  beach cleanup this weekend...on the East Coast!).  I wrote in this blog:

"In the afternoon our family of four headed off in a school bus to Fort Stephens State Park along with 15 other guests to clean the beach. It was a brisk 38 degrees and the winds seemed like they were blowing at a constant 30 miles per hour, but the sun was shining and doing something good for a community in definite need of assistance made it quite enjoyable. The ironic thing is that the beach – to our New Jersey family – seemed incredibly clean. But after walking a mile or so into the wind we collected probably 25 pounds of garbage and the entire group probably collected about 75 pounds in total..."

Now, there is no question that volunteering, especially on a cruise, is a good thing and I do not want to take away from that, but...and it is a big "BUT"...Rafinmd claiming of collecting a full bag of garbage (mostly of plastic bottles) while walking a half mile on the same essentially clean beach my family of four walked over a mile on and saw nothing of the sort, just didn't happen.  Why would he write such a thing?

It is an example of many Cruise Critic posters' need to express their self-importance.  It is this self-importance that colors so many of the posts and threads.  The example above is rather benign as to anyone seeking information about a cruise or cruise line, but it undeniably says to those reading and responding to the post, "Hey, look at me!  I am important and special."  As I say to my kids when they ask me if they are special (an absurd "feel good" practice our schools once used),  "You have earn being special.  You will always be special to me, but to everyone else you may just be a pain.  Earn it; don't ask about it."

Applying this to something a bit more relevant:  The few posters on the Seabourn message board about the new website or, in fact, anything new about Seabourn.  The new management is bad, the new website is bad, the service onboard is going to be bad, etc., etc., etc.  What the heck is this all about?  Simply stated, it is about self-importance. 

If those folks said anything good it would diminish their need to exist.  It would - heaven forbid - mean that Seabourn will survive and thrive without them.  That their input, their complaints, their demands, their taking away precious staff time needed to address real issues with such pressing issues as a hyphen being dropped from a name, the two meaningless zeros eliminated from the past passenger numbers, etc., all would be irrelevant. 

Those few needy and self-important posters want to complain because, as we know, people do not watch NASCAR to see cars going in circles. They watch for the crashes.

Has any of them taken the time to figure out that with those "horrific" changes are not crashes, but signals of a a vastly improved Seabourn guest experience starting with research and ending with your post-cruise experience?

Rather than criticizing, but actually looking at the new Seabourn website as it exists, many things are actually quite obvious.  For example:
 
* Each past guest can see the number of Seabourn cruises they have taken (and eventually days)? 
 
* You can manage your preferences globally and not just by individual cruises (and that that information is already populated from your last cruise)? 
 
*  When all the links are fully functional (like the links were put there just to be there!) you will be able to toggle from category to deck plan to shore excursions to port information to pricing without having to open multiple windows?

Remember when the Seabourn Odyssey was announced and it would be the end of Seabourn?  Do you remember the infamous Martita stating that she would NEVER sail on the larger Seabourn ship and now she sails them on the crossings?  Remember Marja complaining unmercifully about this and that and how poorly she was treated...and then finds herself back onboard.  Remember Keith1010's pontifications?

These people claim to have some sort of personal connection with Seabourn, but when you read their comments you come to realize they only have a personal relationship with themselves and simply use Cruise Critic and Seabourn (or whatever cruise line) as vehicles for their psychosis.

Please remember that these folks represent an infinitesimal number of cruise passengers, so their comments represent less than .01% of the entire cruise experiences.  That is right, far less than 1 in 10,000 experiences overall and 1 in 450 or 600 or 1,000 on any particular cruise!

If you don't post on Cruise Critic, ask yourself why.  And if the reason is "those people" or a desire to remain anonymous or a feeling that your opinion is personal to you and not of weight to others, then consider those points when reading the garbage "those people" write.

Remember it is supposed to be about the cruise and the experience...not making the poster expressing his/her need for self-importance relevant to you or your cruise.