Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Why Do People Believe Bad Comments More Than Good? A Word of Caution: The Poster May Be Trouble.

There is an interesting, though disturbing, phenomenon that raises its ugly head too many times:  The Thrill of Writing Negative Cruise Reviews.

On Cruise Critic (the website of so much inaccuracy and social dysfunction that it boggles most minds), there is presently a woman on the Seabourn Pride (posting as "Caroldoll") who typifies how an obviously ill-informed person who loves the limelight gets her 15 minutes of fame by engaging in various rants and then becomes offended because she was called out on it

What mystifies me more:  There are people that take what this one - ill-informed and not terribly well centered woman's - opinion and deem it to be truthful, relevant and, to be sure, a virtuous death knell.  Why? 

Let me set the stage: 

Granny Lorr has just completed an 88 day cruise on the Seabourn Pride and had the time of her life...again.  You can read her travelogue with details of her experience on the Seabourn Pride here:  Granny on The Pride 2011.  Raves and compliments abound.  She disembarks as the Pride is going into drydock.

Caroldoll embarks on the Seabourn Pride the day it gets out of the same drydock.  She starts out by stating, in part, "The check-in was handled quickly and professionally. However EVERYONE was sitting in a very small theater type room. There were small coldcut sandwiches..not even good cold cuts and with very dry bread and cookies. After about a half an hour someone came to take us to the suite. We are in the OS 6. This is mid-ship with a very very obstructed view."

It is at this point I stop, pause, and determine that whatever else she has to say is definitely going to be of the "Why did you step under my foot?" rather than the "I am sorry I stepped on your foot" variety.  It is, to someone who is knowledgeable (like a good travel agent) that:

(A) One never should arrive at a Seabourn ship before 2:00 p.m. and more preferably at or after 2:30 p.m.  So why did this person arrive before then?  Obviously she didn't have a clue either because she didn't use a travel agent or she used one that didn't know or didn' tell her.

(B) The midship Owner's Suites on the smaller Seabourn ships have a somewhat obstructed view from the balcony.  The Seabourn website makes the condition very clear, "Suites O5 and O6...Living rooms windows have an obstructed view due to ship's equipment; as well the private verandah will have an over head obstruction due to the overhang presence of the ship's life boat.".  Oh, heads are going to roll!  To bad she did not use hers before the cruise to actually read something or ask questions.

So I read on - already tainted by her failures...and they are failures...and read her comment, "I could go on and on, but their internet package is $400, so I won't!" And I pause again because in the top suites on Seabourn the interest is included in the cruise fare (or, if you will, complimentary...just as it says on its website.)  But then I think, "If she bought the full cruise package, then it wouldn't matter." 

Then I say to myself, "Self:  Why would someone who just boarded a ship spend the time ranting on Cruise Critic rather getting herself together and having any issues addressed in a productive fashion?"  I figure it is because she is seeking vengeance, retribution...or, possibly, she needs to blame someone other than herself because she just doesn't belong on that ship.

This last point plays itself out when she complains of the age of the Seabourn Pride, which was launched in 1988 and then compares it to her yachting experiences.  But again, lack of or bad travel agent aside, the Seabourn website clearly states, "And in 1988...the sleek, 10,000-ton Pride emerged from the...shipyard".  If this person was looking for modern or something comparable to a new superyacht either ignorance or visions of grandeur were present. (BTW, I tell all of my clients that the service and cuisine...the "Software" if you will...is what makes the small Seabourn ships special.  If you want state of the art "hardware", the newer Seabourn Odyssey-class ships are probably for you.)

Then there is another point:  This is the first cruise since the drydocking of the Seabourn Pride.  While it made some major technical enhancements to the ship there is absolutely no way things would be running perfectly.  The drydock is run by a shipyard (not Seabourn) and things go wrong and need to be corrected...especially when on a compressed schedule.  In addition, the staff are spending their first days putting things back where they belong (or in new places), working the kinks out of the new equipment, etc.    Just like taking a Caribbean cruise during hurricane season, you should never book such a cruise without expecting problems...Ever.  Guess she was never told that!

So now with all of this background I am reading about those poor souls reading her rants who have booked their first Seabourn cruise and it is on the Seabourn Pride.  They are unnecessarily worried because they are clearly not getting a balanced perspective.  Why would Caroldoll do this to these people?

But I also must ask, "Why are there so many other posters rooting her on to complain more?"  Do they not see that what she says may or may not be true, but even the faults are probably blown way out of proportion.  Or, of course, if they are not like her, would the issues she is legitimately having  be perceived as dire by themselves? Of course they do.  If they read Caroldoll's thread they already know how ill-informed and/or perverse her perspective is.  To me it is like a those people that see someone under the influence and nonetheless buy them another drink because they think that person is amusing.

Before I end this I would like to refer you to an article I wrote back in July 2009:  Let's Get Back to Basics - Why Do We Do This Stuff???? .  It talks of "The List":  the list certain people make of everything that is not right (not even wrong) with their cruise.  It ruins their experience and, when they decide to share their List, it ruins it for others; something I wrote about a few days ago.

Do yourselves a favor when looking to book a cruise:  Use a quality, knowledgeable, travel agent.  Don't book online (unless you plan on handing it off to that agent afterwards).  Don't book directly with the cruise line.  Don't read the review of one person and believe it to be true. And, don't believe everything you read.  (Unless, of course, you read it here!)

Do have a great time and know that your experience is what is important.  That other person's:  Usually, not so much.


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