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What You Shouldn’t Do In Port

Written by: Kuki

There are already plenty of existing articles (many of which I wrote myself) offering advice on what to do during your visits in different ports of  call. 

Now it’s time for me to offer some advice on what NOT to do while visiting a port.

The most important thing not to do in a port of call is to stay there; that is… Don’t miss the ship’s departure. You’ll be left to find and pay for your own way to meet the ship, or looking to start a new career in a new country.

Private, rather than ship’s supplied tours, are available on pretty much any cruise ship itinerary. Researching online for recommended companies is easy, as is booking. but, you don’t want to send your money in advance to some guy called Noriega, with a prison address.

When on a Caribbean cruise there are normally many options for a day at the beach, or even all inclusive beach clubs. Each island also has several clothing optional beaches to choose from. If your intention is to spend the day naked on one of those beaches, you shouldn’t walk off the ship already “dressed” for it.

Rental vehicles are available during your port visit almost everywhere. If you choose to rent an automobile you want to double check that the vehicle has 4 tires, and also a spare, and if you really want to go somewhere, a motor. And you definitely don’t want to rent a vehicle if you don’t have a driver’s license.

Before disembarking a ship, in every port they will supply printed material with the name and contact information for their port agent. Be certain to carry that information with you in case of emergencies. You want to do everything you can to avoid the need to have to contact the port agents, especially from a jail cell.

Be aware if there is a difference between ship’s time and local time. Ignoring that difference can lead to the problem I first referenced in this article. Time in port does have limits, and you’ll be best off if you also put drink limits in place as well.

Thinking along those lines, you don’t want to be buying or selling illegal substances in any port of call. The danger of getting caught means you’ll have a need to call more than just the port agent, and the jails aren’t likely to provide free internet access for you to check Trip Advisor for the most highly recommended attorneys.

Every port you might visit has very friendly locals, as well as its share of not so friendly locals. You want to do your best to avoid the latter.

To best avoid them you don’t want to allow your “stupid self” off the ship. Every one of us has a “stupid self”, who’ll get us into bad situations by making bad decisions. When traveling in foreign places leave your stupid self in the cabin safe, and make smart decisions. Be aware that you are traveling in unfamiliar places, and that requires more diligence, not less.

Your enjoyment and safety are relying on you to make the right decisions. You don’t want to hear your “stupid self” apologizing to your reasonable self later.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: February 4th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: 2

Consider These Before You Book

Written by: Kuki

Whether you’re ready to jump in and book a cruise, or you’re just beginning to think of the possibilities, there are two items I believe should be your first considerations.

How To Book

There are multiple ways to book a cruise; you can find a local “brick and mortar” travel agency in all variety of locations close to your home quite easily ( including travel agencies in biz box an department stores); you can book online or via phone call directly through the different cruise line’s sales departments; you can book online with some of the BIG travel sales providers (such as Expedia, AAA, or Travelocity); you can book online through various travel agencies with an online presence; you can book with a choice of numerous home based travel agents, across the country, who are affiliated with very large consortiums; and you can book with independent travel agents.

In today’s world pretty much every source for cruise sales has an online presence, where you can shop, and even book a cruise, with no personal interaction.

In my view, the worst way for anyone to book is directly with a cruise line. The vast majority of cruise line sales staff are order takers, many of whom have never been on a cruise. They are also selling only one product; the cruises of the line they are employed by. Who do they represent? Their employer. They can not, and will not, provide any accurate information about any other cruise lines that may be a better match for you.

The biggest MISTAKE people make is believing that they can pay less buying direct.

Using the services of a travel agent to book your cruise actually costs you NOTHING. They are paid a commission by the cruise lines for your booking. And, just as importantly, the cruise lines offer no discount to you for not using a travel agent!

Indeed, often a travel agent can offer incentives, such as lower priced group space, or onboard credits, or other value added amenities, that a cruise line sales agent will not.

Now to the tricky part…not all travel agents are equal.

The first thing I recommend looking for is a cruise specialist. It’s a simple thought process really… If I have a stomach issue I don’t go to a podiatrist.

For your cruise I think you really want someone trained in the field, with experience, and with an understanding of the types of ships, itineraries, etc. that are available. You also want a cruise specialist who is committed to answering all of your questions, and taking care of your needs, especially if something happens to go wrong.

Find the right cruise specialist and it will be a lot like finding your favourite dress or suit; you’re going to want to use them over and over again.

Over the years I’ve written about this topic many, many times, but in my view, it is so important it needs to brought forward often, with hopes that more people take this advice.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is too often thought of as dirty words. Far too many people think this is one area where they can save money on their trip.

Too many people think travel insurance is only necessary for the elderly or sick. Or they think all they really need is cancellation insurance, to cover the costs of the trip if they have to cancel.

Unfortunately, illness can strike even the healthy…regardless of age. Accidents, sometimes serious ones, can happen when traveling…regardless of age, or physical condition. Treatments can be expensive onboard, and even more so on land in a port of call. And if evacuation from a ship at sea becomes necessary, the costs can get astronomically high.

It is a HUGE mistake to believe it won’t happen to you just to save money!

In my opinion, if you can’t afford the insurance, you can’t afford to cruise, and you shouldn’t!

The worst place to buy your travel insurance is from the cruise line.

My recommendation is to purchase from third party insurers. There are many solid companies to choose from. You should invest as much time as is necessary to make a solid choice. You can begin that process by checking out some of the options at insuremytrip.com.

If everything in your travels goes smoothly you can be upset with me for the advice. If something occurs where you have to use the insurance you’ll be ecstatic that you have it…and you’ll have saved a bundle.

-A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising-

Posted: January 28th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: 3

Cruising’s Multiple Personalities

Written by: Kuki

To the uninitiated, with assistance from cruise line marketing campaigns and word of mouth from their friends and neighbors, many people view cruising through mental images of fine dining, fancy dress, lively fun on sun decks, and Las Vegas style floor shows. Today’s cruise industry is much more complex than that; cruising today has multiple personalities.

Through the 1990s and into the early 21st Century, outside of differences in decor, and some minor differences in onboard programming, it could have seemed that one cruise on a cruise line would be very similar to a cruise on any other line. Though there were a few small niche cruise lines,  variations were basically  budget cruises, mass market cruises, and luxury cruises. The major factor separating them; price.  The pricing categories remain similar today, though the industry may have branded them with new verbiage, sneaking “premium” and “ultra-premium” into the mix, while mass market lines are now referred to as “contemporary”.

Today however the variances in cruise lines are much more clearly established. Plus I think the cruise lines have become ”fleat of fleet” enough to change ships within their line to adapt to the “cruise personalities” passengers are looking for.

The most dominant personality in the industry at this time seems to be the “cruise vacationer”. And the “cruise vacationer” generally favor itineraries cruising in the Caribbean. Caribbean cruisers goal is to simply relax. The want to spend their vacations enjoying the ship’s amenities; relaxing time on sun decks, umbrella drinks, lots of culinary choices, and plenty of live entertainment (particularly in the evenings). In ports of call they are mostly interested in spending times on beautiful beaches, some sight-seeing, shopping, perhaps some adrenaline inducing activities like zip-lining, jet-skiing, para-sailing, etc. They want a vacation, rather than having a desire to travel. They want something similar to a resort style vacation, but with a little more adventure. And honestly the cruise lines do an outstanding job of meeting those demands throughout the Caribbean, and to a lesser extent the Mexican Riviera.

Then there are “the travelers”. Other than perhaps a first time visit to the islands in the Caribbean, the travelers aren’t going to happy with a Caribbean cruise. Travelers want to see the world, experience different cultures and sights. This is a very fast growing sector of the cruise industry, and all of the cruise lines have reacted by redeploying ships all over the globe to meet the demand. Where a few niche lines, or the smaller ships of the luxury lines used to be some of the only options on many more exotic itineraries, today all categories of the industry are allowing the travelers many more choices in this area. With an eye to the interests of the travelers most cruise lines in areas around the globe are designing very port intensive itineraries. If it’s not a different port almost every day, then they are offering itineraries with more overnights in ports of call; something you rarely see on a Caribbean sailing.

Onboard activities as well as entertainment are also addressed differently on the cruises where the majority of passengers are likely more interested in the next port of call, than a late night comedian.

The “cruise traveler” is still quite different from the “world traveler”. It’s not that they don’t have the same wandering spirit, as they probably do. But for a variety of reason, they are willing to give up some of their wanderlust in favor of more secure and less stressful travel; still being able to return to the creature comforts and luxuries a cruise ship has to offer after day of exploring another port. As you often find the demographic on more exotic itineraries a bit on the older side, I’m guessing many of the people were world travelers, who may now find themselves with less physical abilities to endure the riggers of the “world cruiser” they used to be, yet still have the urge to travel, see more, and learn more. And cruising certainly eases most of the burden, while still fulfilling the urge.

While the cruise lines have moved ships to further reaches of the world, there has also been a concerted effort by them to attract the local populations in those areas. The Europeans are a fast growing segment of the cruise industry.  Where their choices to cruise closer to home were quite limited, today they have more variety in cruise lines sailing close to their homes than sail the Caribbean waters at certain times of year. There’s more major cruise lines moving ships to Australia, and ships homeporting in Dubai. It’s no longer just ships sailing around the globe. It is a true globalization of the cruise industry. It also holds true that the ” cruise travelers” demographic meshes well with the locals boarding the ships in these distant areas, as they appreciate the oppurtunity to experience the different cultures blend together onboard.

Taking the traveler personality a step  further are the adventure/explorer cruise lines. These sailings are on smaller ships (in some cases less than 100 passengers) which venture into waters larger ships simply cannot go. They specialize in providing passengers with very up close, intimate experiences with the nature and wildlife of the areas they visit, such as Antartica and the less traveled inlets of Alaska. These lines are more attractive to those who might normally fit in the “world traveler” category, as in many cases they will take those passengers to areas and sights which are almost unreachable by land. They will also attract a mix of the “cruise travelers” who are willing to give up a few of the creature comforts of standard cruise ships to step into a more adventurous experience.

Currently the most “IN” category in cruising is River Cruising. Though River Cruisiing has been around for some time, the recent surge by River Cruise companies to add many more new ships to their fleets is working effectively to draw more interest.  They’ve been adding many modern amentities more familiar to those who have to this point experienced more typical cruising. Their main attraction is they travel slowly down rivers, allowing passengers to view places they would never visit on larger cruise ships. They also generally dock in the center of towns and cities they visit, and include tours of the areas in their fares. While I don’t believe they presently have much attraction for first time cruisers, they are certainly drawing “cruise travelers” who are interested in a more personal experience of the cultures within the areas they can access by river cruise, as well as the “world travelers”, giving them ease of access which would be much more limited by land travel.

Certainly all of these cruise personalities, combined with a few even more niche cruise alternatives, such as sailing ships, and barge cruising have expanded the selection and choices to enable you to match your personality with the personality of the cruise. It’s a bit like dating. You can research and experiment to find a personality that most directly lines up with yours. These days many people are using the services of dating services to find their matches… such as E Harmony,Match.com, etc. When it comes to cruising, it’s an excellent idea to use the “dating services” of experienced and knowledgable travel agents. They are best equipped to be your “cruisematch”, and find you your cruise ship soul mate.

- A View From the Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: January 21st, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: 1

Focus Group, Survey and Poll Results

Written by: Kuki

During the course of the last twelve months I assigned myself the task of performing very extensive, time consuming, and expensive cruise research;including focus groups, surveys, and polls.

My deadline has come, and it’s time to share the results of this fantastically interesting work.

All of the mathematical work required to tabulate the final results were prepared by a third party independent accounting firm – Liar, Liar, Pants & Fire LLC.

The Focus Group

The Number 1 most important amenity to the participants of my focus group (by a sizeable margin) was a ship that floated.

.06% of participants expressed a preference for ships that could fly as we’ll.
50% of those wished the cabins on the ships had larger overhead bins.

When told no passengers would ever be required to row the ship, the approval dials of the focus group went off the charts.

During discussions of various pricing structures in place by different cruise lines, the highest disapproval ratings were expressed when it became known that no one, aside from cruise travel journalists and captain’s wives or mistresses, could cruise free.

Perhaps interestingly, there was one topic of discussion that 100% of focus group participants agree on; food should be available.

76% favoured availability 24 hours a day; 46 % favoured a limit of 16 lbs. of food per day per person; 28% favoured being spoon fed upon request; .0003 % believed people should be required to bring their own food; 97% thought more of an attempt should be made to feed all the homeless on the ship.

Analysis

Though every effort was made to reach scientifically significant results, and to verify that each focus group participant was a human being, we can not acknowledge the veracity of any of the statements or results included here. In fact, we recommend you assume this has been meaningless drivel.

Survey and Poll

In this section we combine the results of the responses we received to our written survey with those taken from online respondents.

As a result, our findings show that every cruise line in existence wins an award of some kind in all of the various categories anyone can possibly think of. And many have won awards in categories that no one has ever thought of.

All of the cruise lines tied for the Best Of The Best Award, and each will be sent an official certificate verifying their status as winners in this category, which they are free to display in their advertising and on their websites.

The result for the Best Travel Journalist Award was much closer than expected. This was an odd result because all of the voting took place in my mind. I did eke out a win, but only came in second in the Best Disguised Marketing category.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: January 14th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: none

Reminiscing

Written by: Kuki

2013 has come to a close. I think as each year ends and a new year begins we all look back at what we’ve done, and forward to what we are going to do.

So this week’s blog is about me looking back. I’ve been writing for Cruisemates for near 14 years, and I’ve certainly enjoyed doing so. I’ve had the opportunity to experience, do, and write, about some very interesting and unique things.

Over those years, while writing about those experiences and writing an article every week, I well understand that some may have been good, and some not so good. I’m very proud of the good ones icon smile Reminiscing

Now, looking back, I’d like to share some of my favourites. They are not necessarily my best written or favourite articles, but they are my favourite experiences.

If you haven’t seen and read them previously, or even if you have, I hope you’ll read them here, and I hope they put a smile on your face. They did mine.

This first one is my all time favourite. I got to “work” for a day on Celebrity Cruise Line, shortly after they introduced butler service. I can’t say enough about the fun we had, and all the laughs we had behind the scenes.
http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/humop/butler.cfm

#2 on my list was when I got to write and perform a stand up comedy act for part of a late night adult comedy show on Carnival. My material may have been weak, my performance was certainly lacking, but preparing for it, and doing it were a laugh a second experience.

http://www.cruisemates.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=606215 

Next up was when I was allowed to deal blackjack on a Princess ship. I still vividly remember the smiles and laughter of all the dealers as I displayed my ineptitude at thei jobs
http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/humop/kuki21.cfm dealing

And lastly was this article that still reflects exactly how I felt, and still feel about cruising.
http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/humop/seafever.cfm

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: January 7th, 2014 under Kuki.
Comments: none

Nigerian Scam Comes To Cruising

Written by: Kuki

Over the years, I’m sure most everyone has received emails  from purported lawyers , offering large amounts of money from wealthy business people, or inheritances from unknown, long lost relatives. These have generally come to be referred to as Nigerian email scams.

There have been all sorts of various take offs on these scams, and now I’m happy to report they have found a version that they feel is due consideration by the cruise world.

These scammers find their email targets from all kinds of large mailing lists. If you’ve ever been on any kind of these large lists you’ve likely received some such email. Some time ago I found my email had made a rather large of contracts for Public Relation companies, and I’m assuming that what where these particular spammers found my contact information.

Interestingly, this particular even made it through my email SPAM filter, which is normally pretty good. What really peaked my interest (well really it just made me laugh) was how poorly composed and written this email was. The sender must have been one of my readers; knowing how poor my grammar and writing style are, they thought for sure I’d likely reply immediately.

I’m going to share the contents of the email below, not to serve as a public warning to protect others (you’d have to be way dumb to think it’s real… even if you do know some ship Captains), but so you can enjoy the same chuckle from it that I did.

Hello and Good
day,
I am sending you this mail with sympathy and concern
regarding my late client from USA
who was a Ship captain, he died as a
brief illness and he willed his funds to his relative whom I have failed to
locate since one year now so I will need full co-operation from you to transfer
the funds to your account as the next of kin.
This need to be done
for my late client soul to rest in peace.
I will tell you the
name of my late client and the amount of funds involved once I hear from
you.
We must be our
brother’s keeper.
Thanks and have a
great day as I look forward to hear from you.
Sincerely,
Barr. Paul L.Jones
Esq “
BTW… if you’d like to respond to the writer of this email, feel free to contact me and I’ll tell you where to send your deposit.
- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: December 31st, 2013 under Kuki.
Comments: 1

No Guarantee Of A Seaworthy Vessel

Written by: Kuki

To be clear, and up front, it’s plainly obvious that I am an an avid cruise enthusiast. I think cruising is the best vacation experience available. It combines vacation, travel, entertainment, and adventure, all quite inexpensively.

And I do believe the vast majority of sailings are safe, and incidents and issues are indeed very rare.

I support the industry and its innovations fervently, and that’s why I’ve so enjoyed writing about it for Cruisemates for 14 years.

That’s also the reason I became so upset last week when watching a new piece on CNN “reporting” on a story about the fire on the Carnival Triumph which occurred this past February.

When the incident occurred last February I wasn’t any happier about the way the media reported on it (overblown and hyped, when, while passengers endured some very uncomfortable conditions, lives were not in danger) than I am now with the statement Carnival made in their defence …

As reported on CNN, Carnival said, ” the contract that passengers agree to when they buy a ticket makes absolutely no guarantee for safe passage, a seaworthy vessel, adequate and wholesome food, and sanitary and safe living conditions.”

I’ve been aware for a very long time that the cruise contract referred to has always removed the cruise lines from any responsibility of basically anything that occurs on their ships, other than proven gross negligence.

However, in this case, as pressure mounted, for them using this statement for their public response and defence is truly disappointing. Yes, I’m certain there are all kinds of legal reasons as to why they must limit what they say publicly. But on a personal level, I think they need to “man up”!

In my opinion, if that statement is their defence and final policy, they should also include that statement on every advertisement they run. That would make it perfectly clear to all potential customers, and eliminate the need to dance around the legalese ramifications.

That statement also seems to fly in the face of some of the facets of the Passenger Rights Act, which Carnival agreed to in May of this year. Though even in that Bill of Rights there seems to be language which could be seen as giving them an “out”.

As someone who has stood and spoken fervently backing up Carnival’s product for a long time, including after the Triumph fire in February, I’d really like to see them stand and speak fervently backing up their product, not looking for escape clauses.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: December 24th, 2013 under Kuki.
Comments: 5

Cruising Social

Written by: Kuki

Unless you are cruising with a group of family members, an affinity group, or participating in a themed cruise, the social life of the ship is not likely your first consideration when choosing a cruise.

Nor do I think it’s one of the top things cruise line executives and advertising agencies consider when planning ships and promotions.

But I do think it’s impact on guest satisfaction by the end of the cruise experience is more significant than either the cruise lines or the passengers give it credit for.

From the planning perspective there’s little doubt the cruise lines direct more of their time, efforts, and money, to staffing, service, menu planning, safety and logistics, and entertainment for their ships.

Indeed a combination of all those things sets the tone for how passengers enjoy the social life of the ship, but the social life is the glue that bonds all of the factors together.

The cruise lines all do have a “cruise staff” who work with the Cruise Director to organize entertainment, as well as activities to attract the passengers attendance and participation, so it’s not fair to say the lines don’t pay any attention to encouraging socializing.

Admittedly there are some people who get onboard with very little to no interest in socializing. They want to relax, or just be with their spouses or significant others.

But, more so than on any other vacation, cruisers are generally looking to be social. It’s easy to tell as soon as you enter a port’s embarkation building, where while waiting, pretty much everyone is actively speaking to anyone nearby who looks like they may be willing to talk. In every embarkation waiting area there’s a noticeable buzz; that’s the beginning of cruising social for that sailing.

Once onboard that feeling continues. On a cruise it’s actually difficult to find people who have no interest in being social. On a cruise people’s behavior filters just seem to disappear. People are much more likely to participate in activities on ships that they would never even consider doing if they were at home. Possibly that’s because of the “I’ll never see these people again” philosophy, and OK, at times some of that may have a few alcoholic beverages involved, but there’s no way that is the sole driver.

You really do see more people smiling and you do hear more laughter on a cruise ship! There’s no where I’ve ever been where that holds more true.

On a cruise the food throughout might be excellent, and the service outstanding, with enjoyable scheduled professional entertainment, and people would leave the ship saying they enjoyed the experience. But if they didn’t get to enjoy the social part of the experience, they’d leave the ship disappointed to some degree.

On your next cruise step right up to enjoy the social life, embrace participating in life onboard regardless of underlying hesitations you might have, and even if there are a few bumps in other areas of the ship, I’m betting you’re going to leave the ship much happier.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

Posted: December 17th, 2013 under Kuki.
Comments: none

Tethered To Technology

Written by: Kuki

There is no question that our global society has been dramatically altered by advancements in technology, that continue to change almost daily. One of the fastest growing industries these days is creating “apps” for smart phones.

Today there are young people who have grown up without ever knowing what a land line telephone was, other than an antiquated method of communication. I openly admit I understand very little about how most of this technology works. I am just a user, who can, on occasion, follow the directions.

Technological advances have also changed the cruise industry. As a lay person I certainly don’t have the expertise to discuss all the ways its done so. But, I do have opinions, and some concerns, about how it has affected our ability not just to get away, but to vacation.

One might be surprised that someone whose job would not exist if it weren’t for technology; and because of advancements that job has got easier, would have anything but praise. But, I do have some concerns.

What got me thinking about this was this article written for Travel Weekly —

http://www.travelweekly.com/Cruise-Travel/Cruise-industry-is-seeking-big-jump-in-telecom-speeds/?cid=eltrdb

It had my attention from the very first paragraph… “Faced with accelerating demands by passengers for digital connections for their mobile devices, cruise lines are pushing vendors for faster, cheaper, more reliable telecommunications at sea.”

In regard to communications, there’s no doubt we’ve become a world where people demand instant access. I’m old enough, yet young enough, to remember when we somehow managed to go on vacation, without being in constant touch. At one time our hard earned vacation time translated to time off from work; we also somehow managed to exist and enjoy without the ability to tell everyone we knew (and many we never knew) exactly what we were doing at any given time of day or night.

Thanks to technology we’re now almost expected to be available to our employers 24/7. Particularly since 2008, many of us agree to those terms in order to protect our jobs. From a fiscal responsibility perspective I can understand that approach, but I do view that as a sacrifice you make, not an enhancement of your life.

But, I do have to admit I have a difficult time understanding the need to be connected with everyone all of the time for other reasons. That doesn’t mean I’m right, it simply is the limits of what makes sense to me. But then, I have a cell phone that no one ever calls, and hardly anyone has the number to. I still see an incoming text message as an intrusion most of the time.

Obviously I’m not included in the “accelerating demands by passengers” numbers discussed in the article I’ve referred to here, though I have come to realize that I, and others with views like mine, are now in the minority.

The thing is, I’ve already seen some of the results of the “advances in technological communications” on passengers onboard.

At some time or another surely everyone has witnessed people talking on their cell phones (important conversations no doubt) in all kinds of inappropriate places, and speaking so loud everyone within 100 ft. can hear them; or you’ve seen people texting as they walk along and bump into other people or inanimate objects because they are not paying attention to where they are going; or automobile accidents caused by driver’s distracted by their use of mobile devices.

And, with the exception of distracted driving, I’ve already witnessed the same actions on ships at sea.

As the cruise lines proceed to speed up the connectivity of mobile devices, I can easily visualize large numbers of people on the pool decks, in the lounges and bars, and even in showrooms and theaters, talking on their phones, and creating the same disturbances, even sitting out by the pool while Skyping with friends.

Yes, it’s a matter of people being aware of rudeness and appropriate etiquette, but do we really want to see signs around the ship asking people to turn off their cell phones? It is going to happen! Sadly, it’s not only going to be impacting the vacations of those people, but also mine and yours.

There are enough human things some people do to disturb others because of their bad manners and rudeness. I am concerned those same people are going to be further aided in their ability to annoy by “advances” in technology.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted: December 10th, 2013 under Kuki.
Comments: 1

Trust And Mistrust

Written by: Kuki

A short while back the big story in the news was the “revelation” of the U.S. government “spying” on the heads of state of various nations around the world, as well as people “of interest” around the world.

In the news all of this is referred to as a result of the actions of James Snowden releasing classified documentation of the National Security Agency’s various spying programs. And whether people believe what he did was right or wrong, there’s no doubt of the impact this is having on the relationships and communication abilities of the United States, and nations around the world.

I’ve seen and read plenty of commentary in the media saying it is naïve to believe the world, and it’s various leaders, didn’t know this was going on, and their public reactions now is just posturing for their own domestic audiences. And yes, I believe that’s true. Apparently even governments have issues questioning who to trust.

Narrowing this down to a more personal level, I was recently talking to a friend who owns several franchise outlets for a national chain; indeed he sits on the franchisee advisory board for the national franchise.

The discussion was about a story which developed on a social media painting the brand in a negative light. He then told me the franchising company had an entire department in place whose job it is, is to respond however they can to combat any negative posts or stories they find in social media.

They spend their entire days searching for any mentions of their brand on social media, and where they can respond to any negative views. But, they are not responding as the corporate entity. Rather, they disguise themselves, attempting to appear as average consumers with no ties to the company. Their job - to negate the negative commentary toward the company that might be building.

As I heard this story  I wasn’t really surprised that this was going on. But I was surprised at how much energy, effort, and labor was devoted to it… and of course, my thoughts turned to thinking about how prevalent this type of activity would be in the cruise industry.

The cruise lines have most certainly increased their presence on social media. They are all increasing their presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Linkdin, and all the rest, and they are doing so clearly using their corporate identities. And I have absolutely no objections to that. In fact, in many ways I think of it as a positive, because their presence in those media forms makes it easier for the public to communicate with them, and question them.

But, like my friends national chain, I feel much less comfortable, thinking they have employees whose job is to monitor those sites, and respond with fake identities, and hiding their affiliations with the company.

Though I always believed there was some “of that” going on, until my recent conversation with my friend, I don’t think I had any understanding of just how pervasive this is.  Yes, I have to admit, as much of a cynic as I thought I could be, I was naïve.

Now, I have a somewhat serious problem trying to figure out what/who I can trust.

I would much rather the cruise lines involve themselves just as much as they can using only their corporate identities, and deal with any issues which arise with direct and honest responses from their entire online prescence. That type of approach would certainly earn more of my respect.

However, believing that’s what will happen is as naïve as believing governments will quit spying on each other just because it has become public information that they do.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

 

 

Posted: December 3rd, 2013 under Kuki.
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