Does anyone here really put a lot of faith in reviews by staffers of travel mags, or by travel agents, I don't.
I always figure they are just out to make a buck and will promote aything that will help them do so.
Am I too cynical?
On the other hand I do love readers reviews. Once in awhile you read one that is all negative or all postive , which is annoying since then I don't beleive anything they say., but generally I found most readers reviews to be great!
You mean staffers as in the staff here on CM? Heck YES I believe what the staffers say! A good TA will give you a good review - at least mine did. She didn't push one line over the other, just gave me her opinion based on her experiences on the different ships.
As far as readers reviews, I LOVE reading them!
Carnival Elation March 11
Carnival Imagination Sept 07
Carniival Sensation Dec 06
RCI Sovereign of the Seas Sept 06
Carnival Miracle Sept 05
Carnival Glory Sept 04
Carnival Fantasy Jan 04
Rebel .. above is the link to the Member's Review Area. You can post your review there.
I think it's important to give an honest and balanced view of the ship in a review. When I read others' reviews that's what I look for in deciding how much weight to give it. And that is also the approach
Granted there are some places where "professional reviews" seem to be nothing more than brochures for the cruise lines. However, if you read the CruiseMates Reviews I think you'll find a very informative and balanced approach.
Let's face it -- though some cruises may be better than others, the vast majority are quite good.. or so many of us wouldn't keep going on them. Therefore there's normally more good to report than bad.
In the Readers' review areas, most of the "reviews" submitted talk more about the writer's cruise experience, than an actual objective ship's review. And I think that makes them interesting in a different way from the "professional reviews.
Read both types... and you can normally get a good idea of what to expect out of a particular ship.
I think one of the problems with reviews that are done by staff or especially TAs is that they are not actually on a real sailing. They just go on board , get shown around, have a lunch and then off they go to sell sell sell!. Once in awahile top ta s and other VIPS get invited on pre inaugaral cruises, but lets face it, those are not the average cruiser experiences, they put it on a bit for the VIPS.
This is not directed at any staff here in particular, just as a general statement.I may be wrong, and then again it does seem that to criticize a ship or line would be biting the hand that feeds them( indirectly) . Are the opinions completely unbiased?
Please no biting my head off, I really do not mean any one in particular.
I know that many articles in travel magazines are nothing more than brochure write ups. Most cruises are overall quite good and this could explain why most reviews are positive. However their is no such thing as perfection and a review should be balanced. I do not put much weight on a review that is all positive or one that is all negative but by reading a number of them you can get an "idea" about a ship.
I don't think anyone can really make an accurate comment on the service or activities aboard a ship by doing a walk through or by doing a Familiarization Cruise. A real cruise with real passengers is required.
I also feel that no ship should be rated or reviewed on it's first one or two sailings. It should be allowed a couple of to get the "bugs" worked out and allow the staff to build team relationships.
BTW: The Cruisemates message board staff all sail the ships they review and I feel that the articles on Cruisemates are very balanced and not one sided. I just read Susan Milne's Silverseas article, on the homepage, and while it's quite positive it should be; it's Silverseas. I don't think I will be able to afford one of those cruises for a while. However, after reading her article I think I may be bored on that ship.
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I wish the reader's reviews would post the number of cruises and other ships they've been on. I find it hard to accept a review of someone's experience until I know if they have a foundation for comparisons.
the first place is go for a review is right here, I start with Anne's reviews then i read the articles, then i go to the reader reviews. Take it all in, disregard the in your face bashing and decide for myself. I also have a great TA who's advise i do trust because she has been in the business for about 30yrs. and has been around the block a few times.
You've hit upon one of my pet peeves. Travel agents who think they know a ship after having an afternoon tour and lunch onboard.
I do think it's a very good idea for TAs to do this, because it at least gives them some familiarity with the particular ship. BUT I do encounter a few who think because they had lunch onboard they know the product. And if they were to attempt to write a review based on that, I'd have to agree with you.... toss it in the trash. Heck, they can't even really comment on the food, because in most cases they have a special lunch in the dining room with set menus.
There are CruiseMates writers invited on ships for inaugural events, or the short 2 or 3 night preview sailings, and while you may see us feature a "First Look" article, you'll never find any of our reviews based on those experiences.
What gets me about some reviews, you can have 2 from the same cruise, 2 different cruisers, two totally different reviews. Makes me wonder if the 2 people were actually on the same cruise. I can understand we all get different staff either in the dining room or our cabin which can make or break a cruise, but certainly not spoil the entire week. I also see a lot of the time, where the weather just doesn't cooperate and of course its the cruiseline's fault.....
I do love reading reviews and taking them for what they are, mostly opionions both good and bad, I always try to tell it like it is and not sugar coat it, but in almost all our cruisers, they've all been good, some better than others, but still lots of good information from reading through the different ones.
Thank you, you all have written very nice replies. I agree one should read everything and take in the concensus , rather than excepting any one review as the be all .
I must also comment on the reasonable staff replies, just another reason these boards are so great.
Reviews are necessarily biased -- but not necessarily financial bias. Without qualitative bias, you might as well be reading technical specifications of the ship, maps of the ports, etc. However, with bias comes the potential for that bias to be counter to your own values. Sometimes those conflicts are readily apparent, and in those cases, more likely than not, you don't even consider the review (or even remember it). In many cases, though, the bias of the reviewer isn't readily apparent. This is often the case when the review provides only surface facts, and then makes qualitative judgements, rather than providing reasons why the reviewer believed something was "good" or "bad." Without the reasons, it is very difficult to guess whether the review is relevant for you.
Generally, if a review says something is "good" or "bad" and doesn't say way, I'll not consider the information useful to me, unless I have other frames of reference for the reviewer. Other frames of reference, though, could be useful: If I know enough about the reviewer to know that the reviewer and I have several things that we both believe are "good" that many people don't believe are good, then I'll readily believe blanket judgements by the reviewer. Similarly, if know enough about the reviewer to know that the reviewer and I have several things that we both believe are "bad" that many people don't believe are bad, then I'll also readily believe blanket judgements by the reviewer.
A single cruiser's review (or partial review) doesn't tell me much, due to the "subjective" angle. But when I see the same negative comments from many past cruisers on a particular ship, I find that very credible.
I read the reviews to look for trends. I tend not to put as much weight on a review from a first time cruiser, as they usually do not have much to use for comparison. Also any reveiws that are nearly all positive or all negative...Or reviews much over a year or two old, or if the ship has changed itneraries. But like was also posted, if several recent reviews seem to indicate a trend, then I would find the main points of the posts valid.
After posting a few travelogue type reviews, I decided to alter my review format to reflect more of a report card format. I find that doing it this way is more informative to potential future cruisers. I give a grade on a major function, such as the ship, service, each port of call, a brief description of my thoughts or what I did, and some pratical recomendations. I try to write them for someone who has never taken a cruise before so they know what to expect.
I remember reading a lot of negative reviews on the Carnival Paradise before I took my first cruise on her back in 2002. After studying them a little closer, I noticed an overwhelming majority of them were written over the millineum cruise, which apparently was a major disaster. Keep in mind people seem to remember the bad things more than the good.
When I look for a review of a ship I want a review of a ship. I don't want the writer's life story nor do I want to know what they and their companions ate for Breakfast, Lunch etc. I want to know what is the ship like, what are the good lounges, cabins, casino, shows etc. I really don't care what they wore or what they did ashore, they are supposed to be reviewing the ship. Also, please don't make the review a novel!!!!
I love the novel ones. It helps me when people tell me abit about themselves since then I can compare their atitudes and lifestlyes to mine to see if we would look at things the same way.For instance if they say they are big shoppers and don't like the beach scene then I know that they aren't going to necessarily view a port the same way i would.
Richard's comment was right on. I happen to read alot of reviews.....either for cruises or hotels where I am planning to visit, as I prefer NOT to stay in a 'cookie cutter' type Holiday Inn, HoJos or Ramada. Some of those hotel reviews were absolutely awful, but I also realize that each person is unique with different views and perceptions. By the way, I have never had an experience that came close to some of the poor reviews. But if there are many negatives by different people, I tend to be more cautious in my choices. As far as TAs, they do get perks and special considerations when reviewing a hotel, resort or ship.That is business....you have to put out money to make it.
As far as cruising....I have obtained a wealth of information from this board, and have done my homework BEFORE plunking down my money. The CM staff reviews are pretty much right on, and as far as member reviews, I try to remember that we each have our own expectations and, again......that magic little word......perception. Your cabin steward may have am "off" day (we all do), One of your bags didn't make it on board (port baggage handlers usually are NOT employed by the cruise lines), Something unfortunate or an emergency may have happened to cause a delay in reaching a port on time", A port is cancelled because of rough seas or bad weather. Each of these things may tend to 'ruin' a vacation. But a whole picture can be painted around one of these incidents, if one tries to look beyond that fault or problem. I just try to remember that when reading any review.