I picked up this morning's copy of the Miami Herald and to my amazement read a story on the front page, just below the fold, with the headline: "Day in the sun turns wet, cold. Cruise Passengers stranded overnight on island". You had to read through six paragraphs and turn to page 2 to find out that this occurred on November 13th, not yesterday!
Some of you who follow these boards may remember that I was on the ship at the time and put up a story about the incident on the day we returned, November 15th.
What is worse, the story omits key elements of the incident and barely mentions what Royal Caribbean did to make up for it all. Here's the letter I sent off to the reporter who wrote the story and the Herald's editor.
If you don't think that the media, in a relatively slow news period, is having a ball playing with the Cruise Industry, the late resurrection of this incident may cast a different light on the subject. Here's the letter I sent:
Dear Ms Cordle:
I read your story in today's Herald incredulously. I found it to be remarkable in its timing and its omissions. Frankly, I thought it bordered on the irresponsible.
I was on that sailing of the Majesty of the Seas, which departed Miami on November 11th, 2002. We had a convention group on the ship with over 140 members.
Here are my problems with your story:
1. The very fact that it appears today, nearly a month after the fact, amid the daily stories concerning illness aboard some cruise ships, is in itself suspect. This story began just under the fold on page one. It is not until paragraph six, continued on page two that the reader learns the incident occurred on November 13th. I find the timing curious. I put a story up on the Internet in several on line cruise sites immediately upon our return on November 15th and the story was the source of much comment during the week that followed.
2. You mention the letter passengers received from Jack Williams, President of Royal Caribbean International. You failed to mention that the letter reported that, fortunately, there were no injuries or accidents recorded during the incident ... which spoke to the skill and dedication of Royal Caribbean's Officers and Crew. If any fault could be found, and you eluded to it briefly, it was with the selfishness and boorishness of a few of the stranded passengers.
Actually, with very few exceptions, the mood on the ship after the safe return of the stranded passengers and the receipt of the letter from Jack Williams with reference to a full refund and free future cruise was, if anything, celebratory! We are just now processing the Future Cruise Certificates and the refunds are in the pipeline as well.
I believe that if, for your own reasons, you wish to run a story like this, so long after the fact, you should at the very least include reference, in this case, to the safe return without incident of all the passengers.
The troublesome timing of this story makes me wonder if I might expect to see a headline in tomorrow's Herald along the lines of "Ocean Liner on maiden voyage strikes Iceberg in North Atlantic. Many feared lost"!
Ernest L. Grossman
Master Cruise Counsellor