Lots of stuff - not fluff - in this thread!
Since I am the editor of CruiseReviews, let me provide some history of both that site and Sealetter.
Sealetter is still available on line as an archive. It was founded in the mid-1990's by a man interested in cruises, who then sold it to a cruise agent I knew. She had previously started a cruise forum on Compuserve but the politics of Compuserve were mean and they shut her forum down literally with no notice. So she developed Sealetter as an internet magazine which also had a forum. I wrote a few articles for Sealetter and helped manage the forum. For personal reasons, Sharon was not able to maintain the site and she sold it to the then-owner of CruiseReviews Tom Ogg about 5 years ago.
I came along as part of the luggage essentially, and Tom made me an associate editor and administrator of CruiseReviews and it's forum where I worked with renowned cruise expert and ship historian Raoul Fiebig before he left to start his own forum in Germany. About 3 years ago along came Internet Brands, and they purchased both CruiseReviews and Sealetter from Tom Ogg, so here we are today owned by the same company that owns CruiseMates.
This is also a good place for me to publicly thank Paul for mentoring me over the past year or so.
Back to the point - I've never heard of "media rate", but now that I have I am not surprised by it. To me it is no different than being comped for the cruise all the way. Actually the media rate sounds more shady if the reviewer is going to claim they paid for the cruise, but really didn't.