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    Cruise Reviews: How Much Do They Influence the Cruise You Choose?

    Once upon a time, if you were planning a cruise, you would go to your travel agent for all the advice you needed. The agent would answer questions, provide glossy brochures and make recommendations based on his own experience. A visit to the local library might be undertaken to pick up travel guides on the particular destination, cruise line or cruise ship as a way to become an informed traveler. The Sunday newspaper’s travel section was the go-to place to find current news and reviews of hot destinations and vacations. Then came the World Wide Web, and everything changed.

    With instant access to the web, information is just a click away. Many on-line cruise community sites (including our own CruiseCrazies.com) set aside space for travelers to comment on cruise lines, cruise ships, ports of calls and even excursions, and the public is speaking! While some reviews are provided by professional travel writers, it’s the experiences of the everyday consumer that we are most interested in.

    When it comes to planning a cruise these days, reviews can be a tremendous help and an extremely valuable resource. However, the sheer volume of reviews out there can be utterly overwhelming and may hinder the planning process rather than help it. It seems everyone has an opinion, so whom do we believe and how much should someone else’s perspective influence what cruise we choose?

    Here are a few guidelines to follow when reading cruise reviews:

    Negative comments usually outnumber the positive. It’s human nature to point out the bad experiences over the good ones. Sometimes a person’s expectations are not met or they had a bad experience and want to bring attention to the cruise line’s shortcomings. Remember, it’s just one person’s point of view. Read several reviews of the same cruise, and if everyone is complaining about the same situation, then the negative comments are probably warranted and should be taken into consideration.

    Be wary of the reviewer who bashes the entire cruise. On occasion, you may run across a review where it seems nothing went right on the cruise, not one positive moment. The food was awful, the entertainment was lousy, the bed was too hard, the weather was stormy, the ship was too noisy, too cold, too hot, too crowded - you name it. Just laugh a little and skip right over these, because obviously the person has had a beef with the cruise line since the moment he stepped on board and can’t possibly be a credible source of information.

    Useful reviews point out both the strong points and the weaknesses. The most helpful reviews contain a fair and balanced report of both the good and not so great aspects of the cruise. Even on the most horrid of cruises, it’s difficult to not have experienced at least one good moment at sea. Passengers want to know that they can look forward to a great cruise, but they also want to be aware of – and possibly avoid - any potentially bad situations they may encounter on their vacation.

    Read several reviews of the same ship and itinerary. Even though a ship may be sailing to the same exact places on the same clock each time it leaves port, every experience is different. The enjoyment of a cruise – or lack thereof – is affected by a number of things. Passenger demographic, weather, and the assigned crew on a particular sailing can all have an affect on the cruise experience. Reviews of the same cruise embarking on different dates will give you a good idea of the overall experience for that itinerary.

    Don’t rely totally on professional reviews to sway your decision. Travel professionals and cruise specialists by the very nature of their occupation can be a valuable resource when gathering information about a cruise. On the other side of the coin, professionals take “fam” trips – or familiarization trips – to learn about new ships or refits. In some cases, these are brief introductory trips on which a travel agent or professional cruises for free or at a reduced rate, and the cruise line, in turn, depends on these folks to sell their cruises and otherwise provide good press. Therefore, while some professionals and agents will write a balanced and fair review, others may feel pressured to present only the good aspects of a cruise they experienced in just 2 days. Just as the guy who bashes an entire week of cruising, be wary of any review that is only glowing and positive.

    If reviews leave you overwhelmed and confused, stop reading. In preparation for my first cruise ever, I read every single review I laid eyes upon, even resorting to printing and highlighting text. As a result, I had a stack of papers that left my mind in a muddled mess, so confused and overwhelmed by all the varying points of view. In the end, I tossed the paper into the recycle bin and stopped reading reviews altogether. These days, I still read consumer reviews when embarking on a new cruise, but only a few and without the highlighter. While reviews are helpful, too many can cloud the mind. Read in moderation, use your instincts and form your own conclusion.

    Remember – a review is just one person’s opinion. Just like a trinket at a yard sale – one person’s garbage could be someone else’s treasure. Just because they hated the Beef Wellington doesn’t mean you will. People have different likes, dislikes and expectations – it’s what makes the world so interesting.

    Embark on your cruise with an open mind, expect the unexpected, be prepared for anything, and you’ll have a great time – and don’t forget to write about it when you get back!

    By Janice Neves, CruiseCrazies Contributor

    For more cruise news & articles go to http://www.cruisecra....com/index.html

    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more!

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    Reviews have very little influence on me... pretty close to none, in fact. For over 5 years I was a moderator at another cruise oriented web site, a very large one, and I saw virtually hundreds of reviews. Most people who are pleased with something, in this case a cruise, say little to nothing. Someone who is upset about a purchase, event or a cruise tends to be vocal. That's been the case forever and the internet has made expressing one's displeasure VASTLY easier.

    Most of the negative reviews have almost nothing to do with the cruise line, the way the guest was treated on board or even the destinations involved. The complainers mostly kvetch about issues that the cruise line has no control over... most frequently other passengers. I've seen people complain about too many kids on board; not enough kids on board; noisy neighbors; overly expressive neighbors; guests who are too fat (believe it or not...); people who laugh too loud in the shows; the people they've had to deal with on shore tours; people talking with their mouths full and so on and so forth..

    On rare occasions, complaints are valid and, if they're brought to the attention of the staff, are most often corrected on the spot. Some complaints can not be corrected. I've personally witnessed a passenger complaining (loudly...) to the folks at Guest Services that the costumes on stage in the evening show were too revealing. Do these people not ever go out on the pool deck?

    So, at least in my eyes, a negative review is a way for an individual to 'get even' with the cruise line regardless of how nonsensical the gripe is. Sadly, many neophyte cruisers read these diatribes and believe what they read.

    Very recently, in the last few days, a report from the government (if you can believe what comes from the government...) claims that a very large percentage of online reviews are faked... people hired by a company to either post kudos for their product or negative reports about a competitor's.

    As has been said for thousands of years... caveat emptor...


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    I read them but would never base my choice on one person's opinion. It also helps if you can read several reviews by the same person to see if nothing would ever make this person happy or if they had (in their opinion) a legitimate complaint.

    Having been cruising since 1964 I have really only written 1 bad review. Someone reading it might think I am one of those who could never be pleased but if they read my other reviews they might realize I may have had a legitimate complaint.

    Cruising isn't perfect- nothing is - but going in with a great attitude and addressing any problems you might have with the proper people calmly and quietly can usually take care of anything that has occurred and doesn't warrant you writing a scathing review when you return.

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    I also read reviews but do not let them steer me in any direction. I get a kick out of how one little thing can ruin a whole cruise for some people. No cruise will be perfect. I just go with the flow and try to let it roll off of me.

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    Howard, I agree with you. It's an imperfect world. On all our cruises we've had mostly positives and very few negatives. After booking a ship we will look for the latest reviews, however we would never cancel a booking based on negative reviews.

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    I used to read a ton of reviews in my early days of cruising, just so I could know what to expect, being a beginner and all. I learned pretty quickly that two people on the very same ship could have opposite views. Now thaT I have a few cruises under my belt, I still read them, but only occasionally, if I am cruising a ship for the first time or visiting ports I've never seen. Knowing how helpful they are to new cruisers, I write something for every cruise, being careful to balance the good with the bad. So far, I've been very fortunate and haven't found too much to gripe about, or maybe David and I try our best to make the best of a bad situation. As the saying goes - when they serve you lemons, make lemonade!

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    I do read them. If I have a ship I'm interested in, I will read quite a few reviews (recent ones) of that ship. If there are a few complaints, that's normal...if most all of the reviews say a lot about the same thing...like the food is bad, or the entertainment isn't what it used to be, etc...I will keep that in mind when I choose my ship. I do know that two people can be on the same ship and have very different experiences, say...one had a fabulous waiter in the dining room, and the food is brought on time, and very hot, and he remembers everything you like, etc...the other person could be in the same dining room, and get a terrible waiter who brings the food late and cold, etc. If you're on a well-known and liked ship that is unlikely to happen, but it could.

    When I watch movie reviews, it's amazing how some people see things so differently than I do. On my favorite romantic/comedy...which is "Leap Year" I loved the acting, the scenery in Ireland, and thought it was amazing how you could just see the couple falling for each other....just melted my heart...some of the reviewers thought the same as I did, and many others said not to watch it, it was boring, and no charisma between the couple, etc. I couldn't believe it. So, we all have what we like in a movie, and see what we see, and it's the same with cruising. Some will have the same cruise and find it great, Some will find it good, and some not so good, or terrible. I love to read the reviews, especially watching for what we are looking for in a cruise...and I usually go with my heart...and how many good reviews there are. The ports make a difference, too...if one particular ship has ports that I really want to see.

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    I don't bother any more. My wife does. And I agree with Janice that two people on the same ship can have opposite views. My sailing in 2006 on Pride of America was wonderful....and I was looking for problems. I saw another review of the same sailing that all complaints.

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