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  #31 (permalink)  
Old April 22nd, 2010, 01:17 PM
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I got a big laugh from Paul's article when he mentioned the auction assistant claimed their marketing study showed the Carnival ship as having savvy art collectors aboard. I happen to like Carnival but come on!

I've always been annoyed by these auctions. They clutter up public areas, they run people out of lounges so they can "set up", and then they ply people with free champagne while they bilk them. Someone told me they watched an auction and saw someone buy an allegedly rare painting, and then saw the auction people literally toss it into a stack of other purchased art (out of view from the buyers) like it was a piece of cardboard.
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  #32 (permalink)  
Old April 22nd, 2010, 02:11 PM
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By the way - the German government declared the collection of "dali's" that Park West acquired to be fakes as far back as the 1990s. They have been watching this collection for years. Now that a substantial number of people have been sold these pieces it is very possible charges could follow.

And you have to give credit to Fine Art Registry for the courage and confidence they maintained throughout this ordeal. They stood up to big money because they were sure they were right, and the proved it patiently and calmly without resorting to histrionics or sensationalism.
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  #33 (permalink)  
Old April 23rd, 2010, 08:48 PM
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Paul,

I agree - as most do - that these Art Auctions are, at best, a scam and a very poor form of entertainment on a cruise ship.

Do you know who is the highest paid employee on nearly every cruise ship?
It's not the Captain, Chief Engineer, or Hotel Manager. The Art Auctioneer earns more than all of them together.

Which onboard Department makes more revenue than any of the others? An average of 50 out of 52 weeks per year, it is the Art Auction.
It is not unusual for the Art Auction to make more revenue (with lower cost) than the Bar, Casino, Spa, Shops, Photo, Casino, and Bingo combined.

When they have a special Art Connoisseur Cruise, where the big buyers are given Free Air Tickets and Free Cruises, the Art Auction usually makes more revenue than ALL the other revenue departments (including shore excursions) combined.

Which onboard revenue concession gives the highest percentage of it's revenue (between 40% and 60%, depending on the artwork) directly to the cruise line?
You guessed it. The Art Auction.

Which onboard revenue concession gives the greatest amount of money directly to the cruise line?
Right again. The Art Auction.

Which onboard revenue concession uses the smallest amount of very valuable revenue space on a cruise ship?
The Art Auction.

Which onboard revenue concession requires the lowest number of valuable crew beds and crew cabins on a cruise ship?
The Art Auction.

The crazy thing is that the massive sales they make are ALL voluntary. Despite a few slick sales tactics and some absolutely awful free "Champagne", no guns are held to anyone's head to force a sale.

In fact most of the largest sales are not made at the auction at all. They are usually negotiated over a very expensive bottle of wine in the Art Auctioneer's or Hotel Manager's Office.

The Art Auction continues only because so many people are so dumb as to continue supporting them. If passengers decided to stop buying, the Art Auctions would disappear tomorrow.

I'm not talking about $20 prints.
On my ship, on every 7-day cruise, at least one passenger spends over $100,000 at the Art Auction. Several more spend between $50,000 and $100,000.
A few years ago, on a 7-day Hawaii cruise, the Art Auctioneer on my ship - working alone - sold $4 Million in Art. His commission for the week was a new Rolls Royce convertible.

Do these passengers act the same way when they walk past a Ferreri Dealership? I doubt it.

Do these passengers think to take along an extra $100,000 on their cruise just in case they see something interesting to buy? I don't know.

But the fact remains that these awful activities take advantage of an incredibly gullible public - and make massive revenues for the cruise line.

In a sense, they are helping to keep your cruise costs lower. If the cruise lines didn't make those easy profits from the geniuses supporting the Art Auction, they would be forced to find other ways to get it out of YOUR pockets.

Despite all the current legal issues and publicity, I sincerely doubt that the Mass Market cruise lines will cancel this golden opportunity to fleece the Sheeple who sail on their ships.

Last edited by Bruce Chafkin1; April 23rd, 2010 at 08:58 PM.
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  #34 (permalink)  
Old April 24th, 2010, 02:51 AM
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Bruce, I don't know what ship you are (or were) on, but I do know at least some of what you say is true, and for the rest I just don't know.

I can't stop gullible people from buying art if they want to, but all I ask is that you give them legitimate art. I don't even have to ask that you give it to them at a fair price, although it would be the right thing to do.

If Park West wants to charge for a Tarkay 10 timeswhat it would fetch on land on Ebay then the buyers are the stupid ones. They are being lied to when they are told it is worth $2000 and will only go up in value, but "fool me once"...

But they have to stop selling what is basically worthless art and telling people it is worth 10s of thousands of dollars.

I have a close friend who is high up in the legitimate art world. We had not talked for a long time so I called him today. His Chicago gallery has the exclusive rights to make limited edition prints for the New York Historical Society (all of Audobon's original paintings are owned by them) and the Museum of Natural History.

He only sells legitimate art, and he sells it at high prices - but is IS WORTH IT. He told me, by the way, that a number of people have already gone to prison for selling fake Dali art. There was a tidal wave of it right after Dali died.

If people want to buy real art on ships - let them. But sell them the ferrari, not the yugo with a Ferrari sticker price.

No amount of money they may make can justify lying to people about what they are buying. How do they sleep at night?
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  #35 (permalink)  
Old April 24th, 2010, 11:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
Bruce, I don't know what ship you are (or were) on, but I do know at least some of what you say is true, and for the rest I just don't know.

I can't stop gullible people from buying art if they want to, but all I ask is that you give them legitimate art. I don't even have to ask that you give it to them at a fair price, although it would be the right thing to do.

If Park West wants to charge for a Tarkay 10 timeswhat it would fetch on land on Ebay then the buyers are the stupid ones. They are being lied to when they are told it is worth $2000 and will only go up in value, but "fool me once"...

But they have to stop selling what is basically worthless art and telling people it is worth 10s of thousands of dollars.

I have a close friend who is high up in the legitimate art world. We had not talked for a long time so I called him today. His Chicago gallery has the exclusive rights to make limited edition prints for the New York Historical Society (all of Audobon's original paintings are owned by them) and the Museum of Natural History.

He only sells legitimate art, and he sells it at high prices - but is IS WORTH IT. He told me, by the way, that a number of people have already gone to prison for selling fake Dali art. There was a tidal wave of it right after Dali died.

If people want to buy real art on ships - let them. But sell them the ferrari, not the yugo with a Ferrari sticker price.

No amount of money they may make can justify lying to people about what they are buying. How do they sleep at night?
Paul,

We are in complete agreement on the subject of Art Auctions.

Truth in advertising is a very grey area in American these days.

But those same Cruise Line Execs are not only lying about the artwork:

Gourmet food?? Only in the brochure photos. Mediocre wedding reception dinner quality is the best you can hope for on most ships these days.

5 Star Service?? Not even close on the 28 mass market ships I have managed. All the good service staff left a few decades ago when the cruise lines slashed salaries to keep cruise fares low for the masses. Today's average cruise line service staff is good at smiling and telling stories, but has no clue about food, beverage, or proper service etiquette.

What about all those good looking, well-dressed passengers you see in the promotional videos?? Then you board the ship and see masses of badly dressed chubbettes in baseball caps, with their kids dressed in gang colors, waddling like penguins to the buffet.

Something is wrong with this picture............................
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  #36 (permalink)  
Old April 25th, 2010, 03:17 AM
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Bruce - your comments are exactly what I am talking about.

I honestly don't believe they deserve those comments you just made.

But in light of this scandal I realize it is all to easy to make that argument.

Anyone who would do this would do anything for money.

It's a bad thing, a very bad thing.
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  #37 (permalink)  
Old April 25th, 2010, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Chafkin1 View Post
Paul,

We are in complete agreement on the subject of Art Auctions.

............

What about all those good looking, well-dressed passengers you see in the promotional videos?? Then you board the ship and see masses of badly dressed chubbettes in baseball caps, with their kids dressed in gang colors, waddling like penguins to the buffet.

............................
Bruce... it sounds like you are in need of an extended "vacation" from the business if that's how you view your passengers.

Having spent 30 years in the hospitality business myself, I'd never view my customers with so little esteem. That naturally affects the manner in which you treat them "professionally" as well, and the attitude certainly slides right into the minds of those who work for you.

It won't matter how well trained the staff are if they're shown to hold the passenger in such contempt.

Sure there were some customers I'd have like to have hung from a flagpole, but then I'd remember they were the reason I could stay in business; pay the staff, myself and support my family.

Maybe your position is safe regardless of if the ship has passengers. But even if that's the case, being at work must make you very unhappy.

As to the art auctions I've always avoided them, and warned against thinking a ship is going to be a great place to buy art. That people continue to do it never ceases to amaze me.

You did give some interesting insights into the art auctions, though I'm not sure where "the badly dressed chubbettes in baseball caps, with their kids dressed in gang colors" get the $100k to spend on "art"
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Old April 25th, 2010, 07:02 PM
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I almost responded to this post last night, but thought better of it, because I was surprised at Bruce's elitist attitude....Kuki, you wrote what I was thinking, most eloquently....Bruce if you are close to retirement...that's a good thing, if not, maybe a career change would make you happier.
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  #39 (permalink)  
Old April 25th, 2010, 08:52 PM
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Paul / Kuki / Trip,

Please don't misunderstand.
I am not the least bit concerned about the shopping mall mentality and style that pervades mass market cruising today.
That's just Middle America.

If that's what Middle America wants, they should have it. After all, they are the ones paying for the product.

My issue is that the same Cruise line execs who are lying about the Art Auctions, are advertising and presenting the cruise product itself as something very different from what is usually being delivered.

Being disingenuous about the quality and value of the Art is bad enough. At least one is NOT forced to purchase the Art in order to take the cruise.

But one IS forced to purchase the cruise in order to get onboard.

And once onboard, many first timers are shocked to discover that the written, photographed, and videotaped promises of Gourmet Food, 5 Star Service, professional Broadway Shows, and Elegant Shipmates dressed in expensive designer clothing are not merely gross mis-representations.

They are usually downright lies.

The mass market cruise lines are advertising and promising Nieman Marcus and Ritz Carlton.

But they are delivering Wal-Mart and Holiday Inn.
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  #40 (permalink)  
Old April 26th, 2010, 01:33 AM
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Quote:
The mass market cruise lines are advertising and promising Nieman Marcus and Ritz Carlton. But they are delivering Wal-Mart and Holiday Inn.
I really don't agree with you. When you can get a seven day cruise for $499 (last year it was $199) with food, board and entertainment included, plus exotic ports of call, I don't think anyone who goes on board is disingenuious enough to be expecting more than they get.

If anything, I would bet you 90% of first time cruises are still as wowed as they ever were.

I don't know what line you are on, and this conversation gets very complicated, but Carnival cuisine is as good as ever. Royal Caribbean's food may not be as good, but their ships are certainly more "Wow" in architecture and onboard fun than I am sure any of us ever thought we would see.

I personally prefer to limit my condemnation of the cruise lines to the art auctions. The entertainment (not a money maker at all) has gotten nothing but better over the years.

And you still pay about the same price for a cruise now as you did in the 1970s.

There isn't a hotel/motel chain or restaurant in the world that doesn't "overpromise" if that is how you want to refer their marketing. Its pretty much expected these days.

I respect your right to express an opinion, and I think on some ships what you are saying is true. I tend to stay away from the older ships on mass market cruise lines, especially certain brands. But I think some brands try very hard to keep their older ships up to date - and their newer ships are very nice.

And when you get above mainstream, I think the offerings are as good as ever in most cases.
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  #41 (permalink)  
Old May 3rd, 2010, 09:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Chafkin1 View Post
Paul / Kuki / Trip,

Please don't misunderstand.
I am not the least bit concerned about the shopping mall mentality and style that pervades mass market cruising today.
That's just Middle America.

If that's what Middle America wants, they should have it. After all, they are the ones paying for the product.

My issue is that the same Cruise line execs who are lying about the Art Auctions, are advertising and presenting the cruise product itself as something very different from what is usually being delivered.

Being disingenuous about the quality and value of the Art is bad enough. At least one is NOT forced to purchase the Art in order to take the cruise.

But one IS forced to purchase the cruise in order to get onboard.

And once onboard, many first timers are shocked to discover that the written, photographed, and videotaped promises of Gourmet Food, 5 Star Service, professional Broadway Shows, and Elegant Shipmates dressed in expensive designer clothing are not merely gross mis-representations.

They are usually downright lies.

The mass market cruise lines are advertising and promising Nieman Marcus and Ritz Carlton.

But they are delivering Wal-Mart and Holiday Inn.
Just having gotten in yesterday from the Celebrity Soltice (Kukie and Paul wait until you read my review.. you may no longer say I'm a Celebrity Cheer Leader) yet... This ship was only a seven day cruise and I noticed the differences in the demographics..mixed, met several first timers, seniors who cruise out of FLA at the drop of a hat, cruisers who had spent time in Europe on land tours and cruising....Bruce there were all levels.. The first thing I have to tell you that on the Celebrity Soltice..there was no such thing as "sorry, we are unable to do that"..service above and beyond what I have ever seen...an engineer sent to our cabin to fix a rolling walker after 11:00 p.m. On Friday we discovered our plane e-tickets were missing/lost, whatever...less than 24 hours later thanks to the Concierge a copy was sitting in out mail area...incredible (we had not booked our airfare with Celebrity)..Food was an issue for us and that will be addressed, we just have higher expectations. BTW Norm and you would be delighted to know that on the two formal evenings probably 75% were in formal wear.. Nothing is the same as it was 35 years ago and cruising is one of those things.. As a brief aside a gentleman looked back he said on his past cruises and found he is paying less than he did ten years ago.. hence a wider market..and many of u s cruising two and three times a year...
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Old May 4th, 2010, 03:27 PM
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On our last cruise, I avoided the art auctions as usual until they were showing the Disney/Dali collaboration video. I was too curious not to go. I watched the video and stayed for a few minutes. I was stunned to hear the auctioneer say that people should never buy art as an investment, as it rarely turns out that way. He said to only buy what you want to look at on your walls without regretting the money spent! I ran into him the next day in the hallway and thanked him for an honest presentation. Very refreshing. And I think that people might actually be more willing to buy from them if they stuck to his approach. I know I still love some of the pieces I bought years ago on cruises, but almost all are from before PW took over the entire market.
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  #43 (permalink)  
Old May 4th, 2010, 03:50 PM
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While it is commendable that he said that in public - most big sales are conducted in private meetings where there are no witnesses - so to speak.

In any case, in the long run while he said that it doesn't change any damage that has already been done. As far as I am concerned that won't be settled until Park West is no longer on cruise ships.

I hear some cruise lines have just renewed their contracts with Park West - but unfortuantely the really big lawsuits have not happened yet. Many cruise lines have been named in upcoming class action lawsuits and those are bound to get far more publicity.

I see the cruise lines working on the PT Barnum principle (There is a sucker born every minute) - hoping there will always be a fresh batch of new cruisers who have not heard about these auctions.

And if you receall the guy who got kicked off of a Celebrity cruise for attempting to disrupt an art auction (so the auctioneer says). He lost his cruise just for trying to warn people about the things alleged in these lawsuits. I'm sorry, but I can't respect that kind of action by the cruise line.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 08:00 PM
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It also turns out that what the guy was "spouting" was actually true, go figure...No, it wasn't fair the way the cruiseline treated him...
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