Wednesday, February 27, 2013

You Say What? The 2013 Cruise Critic Cruisers Choice Awards: Money Can Buy You Love, Can't It?

This morning I awoke to a CNN headline about Regent Seven Seas Cruises having won a Cruise Critic award for best shore excursions.  I thought it must be part of that weird dream you have right before you wake up.  But no:  It was the Cruise Critic Cruisers Choice Awards.

Not so ironically, this morning I also received an alert about an eight-time Regent cruise who posted a review on Cruise Critic of his/her recent cruise on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner which, beside blasting the supervisors for being rude and berating the staff, stated, "The Excursion Department on the Mariner was an abomination. The worse staff of incompetent people I have ever met. Rude, nasty, uninformed, unprofessional, and just downright lousy people. They treated us like we were doing them a favor. None of them should ever have anything to do with the public. Never, never, on any cruise ship have we been treated like this. And after years of enjoying Regent ships were never encountered truly nasty employees treating guests like dirt...The staff at the Excursions Desk tried but did not ruin what was a overall nice experience. Even the lack of decent excursions didn't ruin the cruise. "

Then I read the next Mariner review and there was a complaint about waiting long periods of time for their tours, and then I read another detailed review documenting all of the failings of the Regent Seven Seas shore excursions.

So being frustrated enough with the Cruise Critic Award for shore excursions I carried on to the list of Best Small Ships and found, surprisingly, that the Azamara Club twins were rated No. 1 and No. 2, both 1,000+ passenger Crystal ships were in the top 10 as were two of Regent's 700+ passenger ships.  Aside from the fact that there is no objective way the Azamara Club ships are the two best (or even worthy of being in the top 10 of small ships), I continued my morning nightmare by looking at the rating of Best Cabins and despite their microscopic size, the Azamara Club cabins were in the Top 10 again, along with the portholed and balcony-less Wind Surf, and the spatially challenged Crystal Serenity.  While one Seabourn ship was on the list, its twin sisters were not; nor were any of the Silversea ships.

In short, redefining "small ship" and then encouraging (or at least not even trying to prevent) stuffing the ballot box, resulted in a ridiculous set of Awards that are worthy of nothing...other than being reported as "news".

BTW, if you really want to get disgusted by all of this:  Below every ship is a bright yellow "Check Prices" box where you can select up to nine advertisers to greet you with pop-up boxes for its offerings on that particular ship.

I wonder who voted?

I wonder who decided who won?

I wonder who put 700+ to 1,000+ passengers ships in the small ship category?

Don't tell me money can't buy love!