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Cruise Article full of Bad Cruise Advice

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A freelance writer on assignment to the Boston Globe contacted me to request an interview about “the hidden cruise costs” I agreed, but sadly found myself sorely misquoted. What to do? The article is out there and the damage is done.

Click here to read the article Beware Hidden Costs Aboard Ship, on shore by Paul Kandarian.

His said he prefers the telephone because “it makes it easier to quote people.” What he meant: “it makes it easier to MIS-quote people.”

I am not sure how Paul Kandarian managed to misinterpret my words in such a convoluted way, but I wish I had a record of this interview. I have been sadly misrepresented.

This article twisted many of my words around, in some cases out of context and in some cases simply not the words I said. In addition, in many places the way the article is written infers many of the things Paul Kandarian is saying are actually attributable to me. It makes ME look foolish as a cruise expert, as if I don’t know what I am talking about.

First he quotes me as saying:

“The way cruise lines put it, they’re not hidden costs; they’re optional costs,” said Paul Motter, editor of, an online trade publication. “No one is required to drink or go ashore. You choose to do it.”

What I said was, “no one is required to drink alcohol or take a shore excursion.” You can drink fruit juice, iced tea or lemonade, and you can walk off the ship and see the local sights on your own. I never said anything about tap water.

here is another example, :… he wrote:

“If you don’t know [what’s included], ask your travel agent or look on the cruise line’s website; it’s usually outlined.”

Two things that usually aren’t outlined are fuel surcharges and taxes, which Motter said generally make up less than 5 percent of the total cost. The average fuel levy is $10 per person per day, he said, capped at $140 for 14 days.

I prefaced this statement by saying “when you speak of ‘hidden costs’ there are two different areas; first let’s talk about the advertised price of the cruise – both in travel agent websites and in cruise line sites.” The advertised price is solely what I was referring to when I said taxes and fuel charges are not disclosed. I never said those are hidden costs not disclosed on the cruise line web site, I just said they are not in the advertised price. But I did say you will definitely see them in your final tally before you make a deposit. I feel what he wrote is very misleading and misrepresentative of what I said.

Then he wrote:

Some luxury lines such as Miami-based Seabourn – part of Carnival Corp. – are all-inclusive but expensive. You can expect to pay as much as 50 percent more than what you would for a conventional cruise, Motter said.

I don’t remember what I said, but if I said 50% I meant that as a minimum. Luxury lines can cost a lot more than 50% more than a Carnival cruise. They can cost up to 500% more.

He then writes about all-inclusive cruises:

And those may or may not include shore excursions, but do include tips and alcohol,” he said, adding that lines don’t make money from excursions, which can cost more than $150 per person, depending on the activities.

I would never say cruise lines do not make money from shore excursions. In fact they are one of the leading additive revenue streams for cruise lines. I don’t even know where he got the idea that I said they don’t make money from shore excursions as this as it is not a statement I believe to be true.

He then wrote this…

You don’t have to tip, of course, but cruise workers are notoriously poorly paid. A typical stateroom attendant might get $400 a week in tips, Motter said, but when you realize these people are usually from poor countries, work long hours and weeks, and are away from home for months at a time, it might make you want to dig deeper.

First, the article gives the impression that I am recommending one might tip higher – which I would not do.

Now, let me make the following clear: the $400 figure I gave is the aggregate figure for tips that any single cruise worker “might” make on one cruise. In the old days of cash tips, the recommendations per guest per day were as follows: room steward ($3.50), waiter ($3.50), busboy ($1.50), Maitre D’ ($1.00)

Therefore, if a room steward has 10 cabins, 2 people tipping $3.50 per day = $49/week per cabin or $490/week. Now, there were always some non-tippers and crewpeople sometimes tip their underlings, but it roughly equalled about $400/week from tips. So, that part is correct. This is actually a respectable wage for the average crewmember from a less economically advantaged nation, and one reason I would not recommend tipping more.

But this is the most egregious misrepresentation of what I said; in this section he wrote:

Industry standards for tipping run $8-$15 per guest per worker (waiter, assistant waiter, stateroom attendant, etc.), and many cruise lines have instituted a system of charging guests for those tips. …

That is ridiculous – Paul Kandarian went on a cruise and he should know he was not charged $8 to $15 per guest per worker. That would be $24 to $45 per person per day, according to the article, or more if you believe the … he wrote after naming three job positions that supposedly each get up $15 per day. That would have added over $90 in tips per day to his final statement. Is this what he saw?

When the cruise lines started putting tips on guest accounts they summed it up at $10 per GUEST TOTAL – NOT PER WORKER. They added up all the recommended tips and summed it up at roughly $10.00/day per guest. Once they collect it they distribute it among all the crew onboard roughly according to the distribution guidelines I outlined above: room steward ($3.50), waiter ($3.50), busboy ($1.50) and Maitre D’ ($1.00). In truth, they have their own ways of distributing that tip money which they do not disclose.

Finally, he wrote:
Want to call home? No problem – at $8 a minute.

Almost every cruise ship now has cellphone access onboard – roaming rates do apply, but the average cost is $3.50 per minute. No one uses the room telephone to call home anymore.

Bottom line, I am embarassed by the way this article presents my knowledge of the cruise industry and I have written them to tell them how I feel.

Never again will I do a phone interview without seeing a draft of the article before it is printed. I have been misquoted before, but never this badly.

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Pingback from Alcohol Posts » Boston Globe Misquotes Me to Point of Embarassment!
Time September 22, 2008 at 8:10 am

[…] Paul Motter wrote a fantastic post today on “Boston Globe Misquotes Me to Point of Embarassment!”Here’s ONLY a quick extractWhat I said was, “no one is required to drink alcohol or take a shore excursion.” You can drink fruit juice, iced tea or lemonade, and you can walk off the ship and see the local sights on your own. I never said anything about tap water … […]

Comment from RayB
Time September 22, 2008 at 10:08 am

Have you spoke to this guy on the globe about the misquotes?

Comment from Paul Motter
Time September 22, 2008 at 10:11 am

Yes, I wrote him and his editors an email – but have not heard from them yet. Imagine?

Comment from Todd De Haven
Time September 23, 2008 at 3:36 am

Such behavior on behalf of reporters is unquestionably reprehensible.

Rather than being intentionally injurious to Paul, I believe the cause is not nearly as cynical as that yet more representative of the level to which journalism has fallen in this country. It is obvious to any journalist that in order to get the piece completed by his deadline, the guy threw it together. I base my opinion on the fact that the article is written in a completely sophomoric vein and could never rise to the most rudimentary standards of basic journalism.

Whomever wrote the piece is obviously just a stringer and a very poor one at that.

I agree that Paul should contact the paper and demand that his remarks be clarified, either in a an article or in the form of a letter to the editor. In fact I strongly urge such a letter be filed in some form, preferrably by e-mail backed up by a hard copy.

Of course such a remedy probably won’t occur as newspapers with true journalistic integrity are rapidly becoming extinct, most becoming just another “rag.” Many familiar with the journalistic community have long considered the publication such for some time now.

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