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Old August 10th, 2011, 12:33 PM
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Default Staff Reviews or Readers' Reviews?

When researching a cruise on this site, do you rely more heavily on staff reviews or readers' reviews? I'm sure most of you probably look at both, but after going through this process recently I'm curious about which ones hold the most sway with you in a close call.

I'll withhold my thoughts until I see yours.
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Old August 10th, 2011, 12:39 PM
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For me its a combination but I tend to rely more on cruisers .
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Old August 10th, 2011, 12:44 PM
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I'm probably a little backwards.

I book the cruise based on price, cruiseline, age of ship, itinerary (in that order).

Once i've booked, I seek out reviews to affirm that I made the right decision.. I read the good reviews and discard the rest
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Old August 10th, 2011, 12:53 PM
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I base my decision on cruisers reviews as to me the staff reviews seem to moreover match what you will find on a cruise line's site. Whereas cruisers will give you more opinions as to how the ship is. Sure you will find negative in these reviews but depending on what the negative is it is easy to disregard especially regarding food unless you find that the majority of people give food a negative. I usually do not pay attention to those that say things such as the cabins are too small as I know that unless you are getting a suite you will not have a large cabin.

I have found that it is not just on Cruisemates that I will find these types of reviews by both staff and cruisers.
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Old August 10th, 2011, 12:57 PM
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I've written cruise reviews for other sites over the years and I've found that for the most part people want to read what the general public writes rather than professional reviewers .

However, I personally read Arthur Frommer's reviews .
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Old August 10th, 2011, 01:10 PM
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I also tend to book cruises based on where I want to go, and the price I can get. I've cruised enough to have established my own preferences for cruise lines. I did check out the readers' reviews for certain ships, and none of the ones I checked had anything recent on them! A ship reviewed 6 months or more ago probably does not have the same CD, and therefore may present a very different experience. Ones that are years old may even predate recent updates to the ship itself.
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Old August 10th, 2011, 01:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Queen of Oakville View Post
I'm probably a little backwards.

I book the cruise based on price, cruiseline, age of ship, itinerary (in that order).

Once i've booked, I seek out reviews to affirm that I made the right decision.. I read the good reviews and discard the rest
I'm with you on this except itinerary, price& cruiseline is my order.
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Old August 10th, 2011, 02:50 PM
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Being one who writes some of the reviews for CruiseMates, I can tell you there are differences in my approach.

For almost every ship I sail, and am going to write a review for, I also write Virtual Cruise Reports daily from the ship.

The Virtual Cruise reports are a daily travelogue, talking mostly about the cruise and port experiences.

Reviews are supposed to be mostly objective; describing the different areas of the ship, layout, type of entertainment and activity options, that make up the basics of what you'll find on that ship, that aren't likelly to change drastically from one sailing to the next.

Food is a bit more difficult to be objective about because we're all stuck with our taste buds. However presentation, quality and quality of service are the most likely things to remain consistent, so a review will focus more on those.

Within a travelogue I'll talk about even small issues that arise. Writing a review I have to determine if what I'm thinking of commenting on is an anecdotal (one time) incident, or is something the majority of people reading about are also likelly to experience.

I enjoy reading Reader Reviews. They most often take the form of a travelogue or journal. My only issue with them, on occassion, is they are written only giving the authors points of acceptance or disappointment. And you really need to know someone to know if you look for the same things in them in your cruise.
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Old August 10th, 2011, 03:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuki View Post

[Professional] Reviews are supposed to be mostly objective; describing the different areas of the ship, layout, type of entertainment and activity options, that make up the basics of what you'll find on that ship, that aren't likelly to change drastically from one sailing to the next.

......
I enjoy reading Reader Reviews. They most often take the form of a travelogue or journal. My only issue with them, on occassion, is they are written only giving the authors points of acceptance or disappointment. And you really need to know someone to know if you look for the same things in them in your cruise.
Verrrrry interesting.

Now my personal take on this goes:

Professional or Staff reviews are usually written from a somewhat omnipotent position, and if read carefully are full of underlying assumptions about what a ship should have and how things should be done. The problem is that the reviewer THINKS he is being objective and does not realize his own biases. Those assumptions and biases are usually hidden in the verbiage and not really clear to the reader.

Now personal reviews go a little differently. It does not really take much reading to figure out where a reviewer stands. Then I have a solid basis on which to make a judgement about whether that particular review applies to the things I want to know. That makes it much easier.

Bottom line, I rarely read Professional "reviews". I will read the parts that are STRICTLY information and clearly identifiable as such. As soon as I see the reviewer's personal opinion trying to sneak in by a side door I quit.

This is not merely directed at this board's own "staff" reviewers. It applies to Frommer as well as to Kuki! Rick Steves, for example, is a reviewer I would never read because his whole attitude to travel is vastly different from mine, but he comes across so arrogantly as if his way is the ONLY way.

But I always read a variety of personal reviews on a variety of different boards. Then, as Queen said, I pay attention to the ones I like and discard the rest!
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Old August 10th, 2011, 08:44 PM
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I always prefer STAFF reviews UNLESS I know the READER very well and I know that our tastes and preferences are very similar. I prefer a factual review and avoid "travelogues" for the most part.
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Old August 15th, 2011, 12:05 AM
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Among all the replies, you've mentioned most of my feelings in one form or another.

I think staff reviews here tend to be a bit forgiving. They're fine for the "just the facts, ma'am" stuff, but unless I've missed them I don't see too many that are negative. In fairness, what they seem to try to do is review based on the "level" of the line, meaning that expectations are different for NCL than for Crystal. But if the reader isn't on to the different classifications, they could read this stuff as apples and apples. But then, if they'd just look at the fares. . .

And, of course, staff reviews are generally written after free or heavily discounted trips. This shouldn't be a factor, but people are people. Plus, this website depends in some measure on advertising from the cruise lines. Again, it shouldn't matter, but you never know what might be happening, even subconsciously.

Beyond that, sometimes the reviews are so poorly copy edited that they make me scream. My favorite pet peeve is writing in the first person without signing the piece. There are many reviews like that in the staff section, and that's a no-no. In addition to signing first person reviews, all staff reviews should be dated with the original date and the date(s) of any revisions.

Reader reviews can be good if there are one or two fairly comprehensive ones that are recent (a real problem here, as somebody mentioned). Many of them are just gripe lists and pretty useless, just as are the ones that are Hallmark cards of effusive joy. If you're lucky enough to find a few fairly new, balanced reviews that seem to be in accord, you've hit the jackpot. Rare, though.

So, even though I look at them, we usually wind up going with lines we know we like, itineraries that interest us and dates that appeal to us.

Just like most of you.
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Old August 15th, 2011, 01:59 AM
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One tidbit that I'd bet most people on our message boards don't realize is a majority of visitors to the site don't even look at the message boards, or do so briefly (which I don't really get).

Seems there's "message board folks" and those who aren't.
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Old August 15th, 2011, 10:20 AM
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I have learned from life, reading reviews and knowing a number of professional reviewers is that EVERYONE has a frame of reference and personal preferences and these will influence a review.

When I do a review (I am far from a professional) my personal preferences of food, ship decor, service, cabin size and amenities are a focus and what I consider good, fair and bad will be different from what others may have. I personally disliked, really disliked, the Epic's cabins but others may not have a problem with them.

When doing a ship or cruise review there is no way anyone can be truly objective unless all they are going to tell you are: GRT, number of dining rooms, length, draft, beam, etc.

In reading reader reviews I throw out the "Everything was perfect" or "It all sucked" reviews and look for something that relates the good and not so good. There can be good information in the "Everything was perfect" class but you really have to do some interpretive reading to figure it out. The "Everything Sucked" reviews the person probably had one or two things go wrong and that jaded their entire cruise and you have to figure out what is legitimate and what is overblown.

I don't want to offend but the statement, about food, that drives me nuts are: "The food was great. As long as I don't have to cook it or clean up then any food is great" This gives no information and if this is truly the attitude of the writer then it is a reason why the included cruise line food has gradually lowered itself to mediocre.

Reviews are great tools but like any tool they have their limitations and can't be the only thing you base your cruise decision on no matter if they are professional or reader reviews.

Take care,
Mike
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Old August 15th, 2011, 10:53 AM
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I agree totally with Mike.

My three reveiws have been on one ship, Explorer of the Seas.

The first one was effusive in its praise of just about everything but then, it was my first cruise. Yet truth be told, I really found it that good.

I then based my two subsequent reviews on the first as regards the major issues. The second was still what I consider a "good" review but things had started to slip.

By the third review, things, especially the food, had slipped badly. That is not because I became more discerning but rather because it was not up to the standards to which I had originally been introduced.

Having said that, I enjoyed all three of my cruises. I have never had a serious complaint about staff or crew. That might well be because I am a "people person" and try and be kind and not overly judgemental unless the situation really deteriorates with one or more individuals and that just hasn't happened to me. Then again, I've only cruised on one ship and each time the same itinerary. Since Fran and I were guests of her niece, we went where and with whom she wanted to cruise. As a matter of fact we had the same class of cabin (oversized outboard over the bow) and actually occupied the same cabin itself back to back on the last two cruises.

I had always thought I'd never cruise again after Fran died but I have since changed that decision based upon something that I wish not to share at this time. That cruise will in all likelihood be on a different ship with a different itinerary from a different port so I'll be able to truly compare differences.

While I do not read Blogs, I do read professional reviews. I have found that Paul's are more in depth and sometimes more critical simply because he has the experience which most if not all of us don't and that is that he actually worked on cruise ships.

So in essence, I use three facets; personal past experience, reader reviews and professional reviews and will be using all three for comparative purposes for any future cruise.

Todd

Last edited by ToddDH; August 15th, 2011 at 10:58 AM.
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Old August 15th, 2011, 12:59 PM
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Question So what am I doing?

Well, after reading this very interesting thread, I find myself wondering just what it is that I am doing.

Many of you have seen my cruise pages at Cruising with the Halls. After each cruise I post some of my best pictures with comments.

But what is it? Is it a "review"? I usually figure there is little point in mentioning negative things unless I feel they are really pertinent, so am I failing in a reviewer's obligation if I just paint a rosy picture?

Or is it a "blog"? Is it just a bunch of tweets strung together? Or is it a photo album with a lot of (extraneous) comments?

I am very confused. Am I a reviewer, a blogger, a photographer or what???

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