Sunday, October 16, 2011

Paul Motter/CruiseMates on the Seabourn Sojourn: When You are Dishonest and/or Prejudiced It Doesn't Motter.


I have a thing about being objective; especially when you know the cruising public is going to read and probably rely upon what you say.  Something about the "Public Trust".

Paul Motter, of CruiseMates.com, and a contributor to Fox News Business is presently on the Seabourn Sojourn.  “Fair and Balanced” is not exactly what comes to mind when reading what he has written so far.  “Dishonest, Prejudiced and Punitive” is more like it.

Some background:  My dealings with Mr. Motter started when he asked me to moderate the Luxury Cruise boards on CruiseMates.com…boards that were dead with literally no posts for months at a time.  I made the mistake of agreeing before I truly knew who the person was behind CruiseMates and, within a short period of time, I resigned from this non-paying job due to his rather curious and erratic behavior.

However, while I was involved he complained regularly how poorly Seabourn had been treating him because all the other cruise lines not only gave him free cruises, but they paid for his airfare and Seabourn refused to do that for him.  (Yes, I have the emails confirming this.)

Fast forward to July 2011 and Paul Motter had an absolute meltdown, spewing insults left and right at Seabourn specifically and luxury cruising generally.  While you can read the sanitized (by him) thread here, let me share with you one quote from Paul Motter:

I find small ships to be boring - especially when the primary attraction is food and wine. I don't find gluttony to be that appealing, and that seems to be the main reason why people tout Seabourn the most. I find their itineraries to be the least appealing of all the "luxury" ships BY FAR because they have the most days at sea, and to me the only difference between a day at sea on a tiny ship and a prison is the food is better.

 What is now the most repeated complaint by Paul Motter:  The food portions are too small and there are not enough courses!  Example:

I was not impressed with the dinner in The Restaurant. The menu comes laid out with just two sections not counting dessert. There were “openers” and “main course.” (Most menus have three or four sections; soups and salads (sometimes these are separate), appetizers and main course. Most of the openers were very light; a small salad for example, so that only left the main course as your entire dinner.

I asked the waiter if people often order more than one “opener” and he replied with helpful specificity…I ordered two, because I was hungry.

You cannot make this stuff up.  Fair and Balanced me thinks not.  A glutton who is not happy because his gluttony is not satiated on Seabourn?  That is my guess.

Now, with that out there, as many of you know, I cruised on the Seabourn Sojourn during the period of September 21-30, 2011 (only two weeks ago) and on a virtually identical path from Quebec City to New York (while he carries on to Ft. Lauderdale), but his is a repositioning cruise.  (We took nine day to cruise from Quebec City to New York and his made the trip in 50% less time…with obviously three less ports.)  So I can obviously compare my cruise experience with his both in detail and in a timely manner.

It is with that preface that I have read his Dishonest and Punitive comments and now comment on here.

Right out of the box, he complains about the itinerary.  Huh?  Can Paul Motter spell “REPOSITIONING CRUISE”?  Or, possibly more importantly, can he spell “FREE CRUISE”. But, alas, let’s give him a bit of perspective:  Seabourn did not design this particular cruise for his edification.  He decided he wanted to go on this cruise with this itinerary. Heck, he might have cruised on my itinerary just days earlier...Oh, that's right:  That cruise was sold out with its three additional ports and wasn't free to him.

But there is more.  He complains he did not have enough time in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Bar Harbor, Maine and that a 15 minute tender operation was too long for him.  But then he says there was enough time to see everything he cared to see.  Huh?  I say this for two reasons:  First, if Seabourn provided you with enough time, then would you have complained if they stayed in port longer…as being a waste?  Second, and more importantly, Paul Motter is, obviously, very superficial…one of those “tick it off my list” Carnival Cruise types. 

Compare what I did in those towns within a similar time period (Read my articles on my 2011 Food & Wine Cruise for more detail): 

-          In Halifax I had about four hours the second day, saw a decent overview of city, drove out to Peggy’s Cove, visited a lobster pound and ate fresh oysters, visited a maple store and picked up some interesting maple wine.  (Oh, yes, I paid for a private tour to maximize my time. Motter?)

-          In Bar Harbor we went Shopping with the Chef, strolled most of the town, stopped for a delicious lobster roll and a beer (bringing back one for a crewmember…always good to show appreciation!) and did some shopping.

He complains about the size of the television in the suite:  Twice he said he can’t see the 22” television properly from the far side of the bed because it is too small and the angle isn’t sufficient.  Huh?  While a bit uncomfortable acknowledging I sleep on the same side of the bed, neither has ever been an issue for me.  I mean I don’t go on a cruise to lie in bed for hours on end watching movies.  (Seriously, I thought he was supposed to be working…not lying down pretending to be important and above actually doing his job!  Let’s say it all together:  FREE CRUISE!)

But then the comment that lets you know he is just a simple person in a place he doesn’t belong:

I have a 60-inch HDTV at home 10 feet away directly in front of me, why would I pay $500/day to watch a movie under these conditions?

No my dear child, people do not pay $500 a day to watch a movie in their suite.  They (obviously not you) pay to actually go to enrichment lectures and interact with the speaker…not passively sit like a couch potato in your underwear (I presume); they socialize with other guests (something you have never mentioned doing…not once); they dine; they enjoy the ports; they enjoy the levels of service and cuisine; etc., etc., etc.  In short IT AIN’T ABOUT A BELOVED TELEVISION!  In fairness, I do note that Motter raves about the interactive television system…and then ruins even that by mentioning the 150+ movies are free (like on a luxury line it would be any other way…something this “expert” should have known.)

You know I think it is best to have Motter choke on his own words here:

Would I take Seabourn again? If I saw a port-intensive itinerary I would certainly consider it. But I would not come for the food or the entertainment. The service is excellent, but I don’t cruise for service, I cruise to travel.

No my dear sir, you cruise to watch television…and not at $500 a day.  You, sir, in my opinion have absolutely no idea what it means to “travel” or, honestly, to “cruise”.  Read on and you will see that being a Pain in the Ass and Impossible to Please is what Paul Motter is about. One thing that is for certain, he isn't cruising to "travel".  (BTW, if you want an interesting discussion on whether cruising is travel, check out this thread on The Gold Standard Luxury Travel Forum:  Is Cruising Really Travel?

He complains about not getting “no sugar, gluten free, vegetarian” food without asking. Other than the fact that just days earlier I was traveling with a guest that required gluten-free dining and, as in years past, he has always been provided with daily freshly baked bread and breadsticks and offered either alternative preparations or creatively made “same as” dishes, I must pause and wonder about his obviously false comments about a poor bread selection.  Brown and six grain breads, in addition to at least two types of “regular” breads are always offered at dinner…along with the famous Seabourn breadsticks. Does he want gluten-free or a gluten smorgasbord? 

So whichever he is complaining about, what happened to just politely speaking with the server and asking him/her to find out the specifics of the vegetarian options offered that evening or arranging to dine in one place so that the special meals can be made ala minute for this very particular guest.  (Which, by the way, is not a problem on Seabourn.) No, Motter wants to have all four galleys (Restaurant, Colonnade, Patio Grill and Restaurant 2) all waiting for him and to instantly prepare whatever fits his whim, whenever and wherever he may be.  (Please fill in whatever adjective for Motter you wish.  I have mine!) 

He complains about the spa.  I am sorry, not the spa…then he would have to pay actual money for a treatment…and that obviously isn’t happening on his free cruise.  No, he is complaining about Seabourn not having a megaship “thalassotherapy pool, scented rain showers, hot and dry saunas and great heated ceramic beds that warm up your body to the bone.”  Is there something in the literature that says those things are on the Seabourn Sojourn?  Nope.  Seabourn’s spa is designed essentially for individual treatments, but does have a Kneipp wading pool (not a thalassotherapy pool) with teak heated loungers (not ceramic ones) and a sauna and steam room. You know:  the things a Seabourn guest desires most on a ship which is less than 35% of the size of the smaller Millenium Class Celebrity ships. The Seabourn Sojourn is designed for its guests who want a specific sort of treatment…and makes no bones about not being akin to those servicing 2,000+ passengers. 

And then he complains that the hot tub reserved for spa guests was worthless to him because it was outside and the weather was poor.  (Heck, for me a hot tub inside is worthless pretty much all of the time…which my readers well know!) 


Is Motter so clueless as to not understand these things?  Oh, I believe he knows it well.  Heck, he didn't complain there is no water slide. One must wonder why he did not mention the wonderful space available overlooking the stern of the ship where the hot tub is located that has wonderful lounges, etc. for spa guests, or the fantastic Spa Villa next door.  No, for his $30 he wants the Celebrity Cruise Lines Persian Gardens…specifically that.  And something that is not offered on any other line.  (Want to compare the Seabourn spa to Silversea, Regent, Crystal, QM2, Oceania, etc.?  No, why do that when you can badmouth Seabourn…Right, Paul???)

 He complains about the cuisine.  This is, well and truly, my favorite.  Let’s start with his overall comment Motter goes on to say he had…in a very Forrest Gump kind of way: “As far as food, I have had lobster every day on this trip.”    “We had “surf and turf,” which was a filet steak and a lobster tail. The steak was cooked to perfection.”  “My main course was “open lobster ravioli.” etc.  BTW, that is a complaint…and I will get back to that.

Then he comments about having the freshest Maine lobster he ever had in Bar Harbor.  Really?  Fresh lobster in Maine is the freshest Maine lobster he ever had.  Shocking!  While that really put you on your back foot, did this genius ever think about what kind of lobster Seabourn was serving him every day?  How about fresh lobster! 

He also complains there is not enough variety, but then comments that there is a theme in the Colonnade very day (British, Indian, etc.).  His complaint:  If you don’t like the theme “you are out of luck”.  I guess this allegedly highly professional cruise writer doesn’t know how to read or ask questions.  In the Colonnade there are always a wide variety of salads, meats, etc. available that are not “themed” and a menu with a variety of non-themed alternatives are placed right on each table.  (So from the guy that was complaining that he required a “no sugar, gluten-free, vegetarian” menu in all restaurants at all times and without further notice we get this?!)

Nor did Motter mention the alternative dining options:  Some days The Restaurant, most days The Patio Grill, every day a very elegant Room Service.  All of them with different offerings.  No, Motter wants to complain that having four alternatives to the themed lunch is not enough and you are "out of luck".  Dishonest or inaccurate?  You decide.

The last I will mention is his comment about the wine. If you know wines at all, it typifies someone trying to be something they are not rather than just saying, "I enjoy the wines.":  "The whites are always just the right touch on the tongue. But the reds are exquisite - with the perfect texture and never an afterbite."   Having just finished my 2011 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise on the same ship with the same wines I have to say, "Huh?  The wines (within color...I guess I am forced to say) are wildly different in style and the complimentary pours are not worthy of garnering high praise...even if the praise (as Motter's is) is nonsensical.  Idiocy.  

I could go on and on and on about Paul Motter and his perverse way of giving the public absolutely false and, possibly, dishonest information.  And, folks remember, his cruise is not over.  We have yet more tall tales and tantrums to read about.  Yippee!

Paul Motter: If I am not speaking the truth, sue me.  That will never happen.  Challenge me.  Show where I am wrong.  Write about how I have it all wrong while you are cruising. That will never happen either.

Fox News Business:  If you actually want to be “Fair and Balanced”, you had better get someone other than Paul Motter to do your cruise writings.

What do you think?  Join the discussion on The Gold Standard Luxury Travel Forum.