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TMI – There are times where Too Much Information Crosses Up Cruisers

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Over my years writing for CruiseMates I’ve always recommended people do research, more research, and more research before they cruise, or as importantly, before they even book a cruise. Myself and all those writing for CruiseMates, as well as most Travel Writers from other cruise media outlets, and fellow cruisers posting on blogs and message boards, attempt to put out the most current, and most detailed information about cruising , to keep cruisers well informed.

On occasion, the information relayed ends up backfiring on the cruisers we’re attempting to inform.
A case in point. almost a decade ago I wrote an article titled Free Money on Cruises. I’d found that one could access money in the ship’s casinos by using their shipboard charge cards, with no fees or service charges for doing so. After that article appeared on CruiseMates several other journalists picked up on the topic, and wrote their own versions of the same theme, and people who’d read it were also posting about it all over the Internet. Within a year the cruise lines found so many people knew “the trick” ad were using it during their cruises, that most lines began charging a 3% service fee to discourage the practice. A few, like RCI and Celebrity continued on for some time, using the judgement of the staff onboard to restrict the ability to only those who were actually using those funds to gamble in the casino. The last bastion of not adding a service fee, Celebrity Cruise Line, just recently began tacking on the service fees for these transactions. For a time Carnival Cruise Line’s Customer Service Dept. had a policy which rewarded those who took the time to write a positive letter of their cruise experience with some sort of gift on their next Carnival cruise.

After a time this information got in the public arena, and people were actually emailing and posting on message boards, instructions on how to get this little extra gift. Do a Google search on the “45 day letter”, and you can see how silly that got. Of course, by last year Carnival ended that policy because of the volume of requests for the gifts from that program.

At one time the “Aft Cabins” – those located on the stern of the ship, facing aft, with views of the wake, were the best kept secrets on the ship. Because of ship’s designs these cabins normally had larger balconies than the balcony cabins located on the sides of the ship. However for quite a time they were priced identically to other cabins in the same category, which were located on the sides of the ship.

Once word spread the cruise lines woke up to the obvious popularity of the cabins in these locations, and of course found they could charge a premium for those cabins, and proceeded to do so.

As the cruise lines developed Past Passenger Loyalty Programs, and set minimum requirements to reach various levels of their programs, with additional amenities offered the more cruises (and high level) you reached; information spread that any short 3 day cruise on the line would garner the same rate of recognition as longer 7 day cruises.

Though this probably did succeed in driving some new business to the cruise line’s shorter cruises, it also resulted in a much larger number of members reaching higher levels in the repeaters programs than the cruise lines would have imagined. And now, in several cases, RCI in particular, they’ve found they have to cut back on the amenities offered to the people in the program because the program has become overrun.

There was a time in the cruise industry that a letter of complaint to the Customer Relations Dept. after your cruise would almost automatically result in a response offering a 10% – 15% discount on your next cruise booked on that cruise line.

Once again, the speed at which that information became public, caused the cruise lines to become more cynical about complaint letters they received. The cost of the almost automatic reaction to the complaint letter became too much of a burden. The result, a complaint letter today triggers an investigation of the complaint, driven my communication between the ship and home office, as well as onboard staff who may have been involved, and any response can take a considerable amount of time.

There’s no doubt the Internet, sites like CruiseMates, and all of you readers have had an impact on all of this. We live in a time of instant communication, and perhaps in a time where we all want instant gratification, and instant response to any complaints we may have.

I’ve offered only a couple of examples of situations where perhaps TMI has come back to bite us in rump. Maybe you have more examples to offer?

Are there times we need to keep the information to ourselves, or do we always tell our best friends that our other best friend is pregnant? J

– A View From the Kuki Side of Cruising –

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Comment from Paul Motter
Time January 5, 2010 at 6:06 pm

As much as I agree with you that everything we say eventually leads to cruise lines responding, I think we still need to say most things we know, with some exceptions (which I will name anon)

First of all – take the “boarding health questionaire.” I have written in articles that this questionaire is basically a joke and no one should ever answer in the affirmative, because if you do they can and might actually deny you your cruise – a terrible price to pay just for being honest.

Unfortunately, the cruise lines set up these questionaires as a CYA move designed so they could say they screen passengers on embarkation – without actually having to do so.

Once we put the word out no one ever answered in the affirmative anymore, but I don’t feel bad about it because most of the time they did not deserve to be barred from the cruise, and any final determinations to do so were done cursarily without proper followup and determination.

Another thing I reported recenty was that if you really need to get off of a ship on disembarkation day or risk missing your plane you should just go whether your number was called or not.

I realize this would lead to certain amount of chaos if everyone decided not to obey the disembarkation process, but I don’t think most will. Why hurry to get off the ship if you have no place to go except the airport. I also said my experience is that all the bags are already off the ship and that they only use the color code process to maintain some crowd flow control (can you imagine 3000 people grabbing their bags and hailing cabs all at once?). I believe Mike M disagreed with and said you should contact the front desk to make sure your bags are out there and request an updated color code.

I agree with the first part, but not the second. I say if you MUST get off then do so. You will be there when your bags arrive on shore, hopefully expedited by your visit to the front desk.

We get the question about sneaking alcohol onboard all the time. I finally just answered it in a post (if people search) but chances are they will just continue to ask. I answered it in a post, but I won’t write an article about it.

There was the issue of compensated posters in another web site. We exposed that and a lot of people have been disenfranchised ever since. I think they have a right to be. I still say that was a right action on our part and the FTC eventually agreed with us.

lastly – suicide on ships. The anti-cruise industry brigade has maintained for years that every missing person on a ship was a murder thrown overboard.

I replied, no – they are almost always suicides, and I even wrote an editorial begging families not to bring suicidal people on ships. I was heavily chastised by those who did not believe that most disappearances are intentional, but now the cruise lines have a new policy of telling us what the surveilance cameras show in these cases, and it has been; suicide, suicide, suicide and suicide.

Towards the end I was arguing that lawyers were behind the cruise crime act of 2009, not “cruise victims” and that their goal was getting greater access to information to sue the cruise lines. Fortunately, the cruise crime act that passed is a reasonable compromise between both sides that I am sure will show the so-called “crime problem” on cruise ships is far lower than most of the anti-cruise crusade purveyed. The statistics reporting will show that.

The last thing on my mind is also what they were saying about the inability to get “legal justice” on a cruise ship. And now we have a fitness instructor who just won a $10,000,000 settlement against Steiner. That’s tough for Steiner, but he deserved some compensation and he got it – full jury American style. So much for “lawless” cruise ships.

There was the art auction fiascos, and now the cruise lines are not so focused on selling art at any price. They have brought those auctions back down to reality – partly because of information disemminated over the Internet.

There was also the Windjammer Cruises affair. We got very little satisfaction there, except finding out a lot more of what really happened at the end. A very interesting story in the end.

That’s it. In truth there is a lot more I would like to be saying right now, but much of it has political overtones and we all know certain topics should not br brought up in public, so. But I do hope the TSA can deal with all the new protocols they just put into place.

Comment from Kuki
Time January 6, 2010 at 8:10 am


Of course, as travel writers, we love to gleam out tidbits about the cruise industry. It’s our job.
And people love to post to share info they’ve gathered on their cruises.

That’s what the site is all about; sharing cruise info.

But, as I was saying, there are times when the info we’ve all shared makes the cruise line aware, and results in some things the cruise lines changing policies that were a benefit to we passengers.

Then of course, there’s also times where misinformation gets posted on message boards with malicious intent, or by well meaning journalists, that through a ripple effect, also have a negative effect.

Comment from Paul Motter
Time January 6, 2010 at 10:37 am

In the long rin, I think we have to say what helps our readers – your sharing of the casino policy was a service. You could have kept it to yourself but your did our readers a service by telling them.

I don’t know if your article alone had that much effect. It seems the cruise lines have figured out how to make money on every transaction on ships these days. The 3% service charge for up to $149 is stil cheaper than using most ship-board ATMs that charge a $5 service fee.

MSC Cruises came out with thermal scanners when it became known the health questionaires were a joke. I think that is an improvement.

So, my point is that there are times when exposing things has positive consequences.

Comment from Marc
Time January 10, 2010 at 1:28 am

Kuki, to answer your question, yes, there is information that I won’t post on a website in fear of losing a “good deal.” This is especially true of certain “favors” I have been given by hotels and airlines. Still, even with cruising, I have kept to myself (or a small list of friends) some of the best deals I have received.

BTW, you can still get “free miles” through cash advances on at least one cruise line I know. I get 400 per person per week. 😉

Comment from Mike M
Time January 14, 2010 at 1:41 am

I don’t believe that anyone should tell everything but it is in the best interest of informed cruisers and websites like Cruisemates to give “inside information” that makes the cruise experience easier and more enjoyable for readers.

Yes: Sites like Cruisemates have illuminated the “insider information and loopholes” that regular passengers don’t know but it is also gives the informed cruiser an edge even if the cruise lines eventually have to close these loopholes. It is then that sites Cruisemates have served a very valid pupose.

Without this inside information and there will always be “new” stuff, the value of sites like Cruisemates is lessened to a level of Cruising 101, or a cruise FAQ sheet and social networking site.

To be truly useful sites and writers need to provide new and innovative “inside information” to be of real value and I hope we keep doing it.

Take care,

Comment from kuki
Time January 14, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Of course I agree we’re best off sharing all the cruise informaton we can, so everyone can take advantage while they can.

But did want to point out that on occassion the rapid spread of info can backfire a bit.

IMHO , not enough to prevent sharing though.

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