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Safe Cruise

Project Safe Cruise Press Release: See www.projectsafecruise.blogspot.com & details below. Leave a message if you have experienced incidents involving poor security & safety practices of cruise lines. Hearings are scheduled; we will provide them to Congress. We must act to insure passenger safety. The current lack of safety & security is not acceptable especially after 9/11. On 5/12/05, we were on the Carnival Destiny near Aruba when an elderly couple disappeared without a trace.

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Location: Michigan, United States

Government could save $50 billion per year by having two shifts of white collar employees work each day. Office space costs $50,000/year for each employee yet we only use space 30% of time. We can no longer afford to have banker's hours for all. With over 2 million federal employees this cost-free paradigm change could avoid lay offs/furloughs and reduce pollution. See new plan at http://whitecollargreenspace.blogspot.com/

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Royal Caribbean Cruises Has Web 2.0 Viral Infection: Failing to Identify Paid Advertisements May Mean They Pay People to Lie

No surprise here: Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has a viral infection. For once, however, it's not the Norovirus but that new-fangled byproduct of Web 2.0, the viral marketing infiltration. According to Consumerist, a group of fifty "Royal Champions" was outed by their own creator, the Customer Insight Group, as being a successful project whereby frequent positive cruise commenting on sites such as CruiseCritic was rewarded with free cruises and other perks.
So what's the big deal? Well, it seems that the "Royal Champions" weren't always up front about their status as compensated reviewers, effectively misleading readers of CruiseCritic forums with their positive comments. Add to this the fact that CruiseCritic admins assisted Royal Caribbean in choosing the fifty, with one of the stipulations being quantity of posts, "with many having over 10,000 message board posts on various Royal Caribbean topics." From here, the hole just gets deeper.
Now that many RC fans feel slighted at not having made the ranks and most everyone else is disgusted at the covert trade of cruising for happy juicing, the trustworthiness of such forums is under fire.
Due to CruiseCritic's ownership by TripAdvisor, which is in turn under the Expedia blanket of travel sites, a viral marketing stunt gone awry could possibly continue to negatively ripple. Does news like this affect your ability to trust good reviews on travel sites, or do you already consider yourself an excellent shill-spotter enough to weed out the solicited from the unsolicited? While this whole ordeal is mired in serious muckety-muck, let's hope it serves as a lesson for future viral marketers and as an argument for transparency.

Did Cruise Critic Cross an Ethical Line?
While I'm not a legal expert, I wonder if Cruise Critic's participation in this activity in some way might violate FTC regulations. Cruise Critic's management, in defense of their behavior, is claiming all it did was to provide their advertiser and marketing partner, RCCL, the contact information for those in to be invited to the Royal Champions Program;. Who are they kidding? Cruise Critic in addition knowingly published reviews and comments from this group and, according to a Cruise Critic bulletin board post (since removed from the site) from their Community Manager, both the Community Manager and Cruise Critic's Editor met with a large group of Royal Champions aboard one of the free incentive cruises. So, at the very least, Cruise Critic demonstrated a total disregard for their users who might have been misled by these posts, while creating an uneven playing field to the detriment of cruise lines other than RCCL. This seems to flaunt stated Trip Advisor policy, so it would be good to hear from them on this matter. And, as a public company, I wonder as well if Expedia, corporate parent of both Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor, may be liable for behavior that could be considered detrimental to their shareholders
Related Stories:· What Is A Royal Champion? [CruiseCritic.com]·
Paid Cheerleaders: Does Royal Caribbean's Viral Campaign Cross the Line? [Tripso.com]·
Marketing Campaign Sinks Cruise Critic [msnbc.com]

Friday, March 20, 2009

Death at sea spurs call for legislation

May 20. 2009
Louise Horton's daughter died after falling off a cruise ship. Now she wants Congress to pass legislation to mandate the reporting of crimes at sea.

Cruise line advertisements focus on the fabulous accommodations and wonderful destinations that await those who come aboard the ocean-bound resorts.But there's a dangerous side to cruising that Louise Horton of Bordentown City, N.J., wants would-be travelers to understand. She's pushing for Congress to pass legislation that would require cruise lines that dock in the United States to report certain crimes that occur at sea to the Coast Guard and FBI and make safety and security improvements to their ships.Although cruise lines say they already report crimes voluntarily, Horton, whose daughter died after falling overboard from a cruise ship last May, is convinced many crimes and incidents go unreported and uninvestigated because they would result in poor publicity for the multibillion dollar industry.

"The public isn't aware about what goes on. You'd be surprised how many crimes are committed," Horton said Wednesday.

Legislation mandating the crime reporting and safety improvements was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate this month by Rep. Doris Matsui, D-California, and Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts.

In addition to requiring crime reporting, the legislation would mandate that guard rails aboard liners must be a minimum 54 inches high and make ship owners install technology to detect when passengers fall overboard. It also would mandate that cabin doors have peep holes, security latches and time sensitive key technology and that all ships carry rape kits and have a licensed medical practitioner to perform examinations.

Horton believes the federal oversight of cruise lines is long overdue, adding her daughter's death gives her a personal stake in the fight.Horton's daughter, Mindy Jordan, 46, fell off the cruise ship Norwegian Dawn on May 11, just a few hours after she and her boyfriend, Jorge Caputo, boarded the Bermuda-bound vessel in New York City.Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Lines said its investigation indicated Jordan, a Lenape High School graduate who grew up in Mount Laurel, fell from the ship after she tried to climb from one balcony to another on a windy night.

The cruise line said surveillance video cameras captured her fall and she was alone in her cabin just prior to the incident.Horton and other members of Jordan's family have expressed doubts about the cruise line's reports, saying Jordan was too small to fall over a railing and unlikely to risk climbing one.The FBI investigated the incident but found no immediate evidence that a crime was committed. Horton said the case remains open.The newspaper was unsuccessful in reaching a spokesman for the FBI's New York office for comment Thursday.Horton is not convinced her daughter's death was an accident, but believes some simple safety improvements might save lives in the future.

"I want to improve ship safety," Horton said. "Peep holes on doors and higher railings are very simple measures."

Ken Carver, president of International Cruise Victims, said cruise ships have managed to skirt federal oversight largely because most are based in foreign countries and because the ships enter international waters once they are 7 miles off the coast.

"What we're looking for is transparency, but cruise lines are unwilling to release [data about] the crimes that occur on their ships" said Carver, whose daughter disappeared during an Alaska cruise in 2004. "Go to Atlantic City and you can find out exactly how many crimes occur in Trump Casino, but you can't get that for a cruise ship."

The Cruise Line International Association said in a statement that safety and security aboard cruise ships are a top priority."Serious crimes aboard cruise ships are very rare, however, even one incident is too many. We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to crime and have comprehensive policies and procedures in place to ensure passengers are safe while enjoying their cruise vacations."

Monday, March 09, 2009

Despite Hundreds of Rapes on Cruise Ships none of the Rapists have been convicted - FBI is investigating rape by Princess cruise ship crewmember

Safe Cruise: Perfect Record: Not One Single Conviction for Sexual Assaults on Cruise Ships in Four Decades

FBI is investigating rape by Princess cruise ship crewmember.
By Miriam Hernandez
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Princess cruise liner returned to an L.A. port on Monday after a passenger alleged a member of the ship's crew committed sexual assault.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents were at the port of San Pedro Monday investigating allegations that a passenger sailing aboard a Princess Cruises ship was sexually assaulted by a crew member.
The Princess Cruises boat is called the Coral Princess and it has been berthed since 7 a.m. Monday. FBI agents have been onboard investigating allegations of a sexual assault.
The attack allegedly happened two days ago, according to a statement by Princess Cruises. The alleged attacker was a crew member. The victim was a passenger. Crimes of this sort are not uncommon. The FBI investigates more sexual assaults than any other crime that happens on the high seas. There were 41 cases reported in a five-month period.
Safe Cruise: Rapes rife on cruise ships, says professor

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Caught Paying People to Lie on Cruise Comment Web Sites

By Anita Dunham-Potter
Travel columnist
Mon., March. 16, 2009
Well-regarded travel author Edward Hasbrouck called the Royal Champions “shills” and Royal Caribbean “puppet masters” in his blog. Cruise Critic posters are furious because they feel they’ve been unknowingly duped by Royal Caribbean’s marketing scheme in addition to being censored by Cruise Critic. Marketing experts are scratching their heads in a what-were-they-thinking way.

This is to be expected from the cruise industry that makes huge campaign donations and pays large lobbying fees to get Congressman to lie and an industry that has been known to pressure the main stream media to tone down negative news stories.
Columnist Anita Dunham-Potter describes how she was harrassed and intimidated by paid members of the Royal Champions who are explained below.
"After writing Moran’s story last May, I, too, was not immune to hundreds of negative blog comments and e-mails about my reporting of her story. The sheer number of negative commentary on this story made me wonder if it was indeed coordinated. There were a number of posts that were similar in content and style to e-mails that I received. Upon checking IP addresses (a number that is assigned to a computer by an Internet service provider to be its permanent address on the Internet) I was able to match a number of nasty blog posts on ExpertCruiser to e-mails sent to me by two members that identified themselves as Royal Champions..."

Public Relations

Royal Caribbean Caught Infiltrating Review Sites With Viral Marketing Team'Meet the "Royal Caribbean Champions," a group of fifty prolific posters to popular online communities that Royal CaribbeanCruise Critic, one of the main targets of the program, are understandably pissed. rewards with special access and free cruises in exchange for their frequent and positive commentary. The Champions were outed by their creators, the Customer Insight Group, which boasted on their company blog that the potent group is "regularly leveraged for ongoing marketing initiates. Members of the popular reviewing site

The Customer Insight Group provides an excellent summary of the pernicious program's goals:

Identifying Brand Advocates: Royal Caribbean worked with Nielsen Buzz Metrics to identify enthusiastic online supporters of Royal Caribbean. Using a combination of automated and manual techniques, they identified online communities that discuss Royal Caribbean Cruises. Relying on data mining software and human expertise in word-of-mouth analysis, they measured awareness, identifying emergent qualitative themes of discussion on blogs, travel forums, usernets to gain a better understanding of how consumers discuss Royal Caribbean cruises. Fifty Royal Caribbean Champions were chosen for both quality and quantity of posts with many having over 10,000 message board posts on various Royal Caribbean topics. While Champions were primarily found on Cruise Critic, they also posted on travel communities, usenet groups, travel blogs and personal journals.

Influencing Brand Advocates: In May 2007, the Royal Champions community of online enthusiasts was invited to their first big event, the pre-inaugural sailings of our newest ship Liberty of the Seas in New York and Miami. This was the first time in the company's history that invitees to pre-inaugural sailings were "ordinary people" i.e. not VIP's, corporate executives, or top producing travel agent. Royal Caribbean hosted ship and stateroom tours and cocktail parties with executives. President Adam Goldstein hosted the New York party and CEO Richard Fain hosted the Miami party. The events generated abundant positive word-of-mouth on various sites and created a cohesive community of Royal Caribbean online enthusiasts that are regularly leveraged for ongoing marketing initiatives.

Measuring Success: While difficult to measure precisely, based on observation and anecdotal evidence we are confident that the Royal Champions produce ample word of mouth and exert sufficient influence to make the investment worthwhile. Posts from Royal Champions are carefully monitored during events and on a regular basis to ensure that posts remain positive and frequent.

The program's existence by itself isn't objectionable. Every industry is a carrier for public relations parasites, but most so-called public relations professionals adhere to a code of conduct that includes a clear disclosure of their affiliation. As the Customer Insight Group acknowledges, "the key to success in viral marketing is to subtly influence the influencers without them overtly realizing they are being influenced."

Since their posts are "carefully monitored," Royal Caribbean Champions should be required to clearly disclose their role as Royal Caribbean mouthpieces so other readers can fairly and fully evaluate their comments.

Influencing Brand Advocates [Customer Insight Group Loyalty Blog]
Default Royal Champions Vereses the rest of us [Cruise Critic via Tripso]

Cruise Ships add to Global Warming at an Alarming Rate and may Destroy some of their exotic destinations

Riding on a cruise ship is the opposite of car pooling and could triple each humans effect on global warming. It may be like having one person drive three cars to work instead of having three persons drive one car to work. A recent New York Times article states:
Environmental groups say that a single ship, docked for one day, emits as much exhaust as 10,000 cars, maybe more.
Most cruise ships average two to three thousand passengers.
Published: March 5, 2009
RESIDENTS of Red Hook, Brooklyn, who worry about car exhaust have long looked in consternation to the east, to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, or, more recently, to the south, where an
Ikea store opened last year amid fears about the traffic it would draw. But when Adam Armstrong of Pioneer Street thinks of exhaust, he thinks of the westward view from his backyard, toward the water. That is where, on certain days, Mr. Armstrong can see the smokestacks of the Queen Mary 2 and other cruise ships rising over the rooftops. When the ships are docked at Pier 12, the terminal at the foot of Pioneer Street, they are essentially idling, using their diesel engines to keep their electrical systems running.
What results, Mr. Armstrong said the other day, is a noxious smoke that wafts over the surrounding area. Environmental groups say that a single ship, docked for one day, emits as much exhaust as 10,000 cars, maybe more...According to the Port Authority’s numbers, based on 48 dockings each year, cold ironing would prevent 95 tons of nitrogen oxides, 6.5 tons of particulate matter (tiny particles suspended in a gas), 1,487 tons of carbon dioxide and 99 tons of sulfur dioxide from being released into the air.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Why is the FBI NOT Investigating the Case of the 63 Year Old Carnival Cruise Line Passenger Who fell Overboard

Staff report
March 7, 2009
The 63-year-old Carnival cruise passenger who disappeared off Chile's coast this week is from California, the FBI said Friday. Chilean authorities are investigating the case, not the FBI, because he disappeared abroad, FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said.The man, whose name and residence were not released, was a passenger aboard the Carnival Splendor, the Carnival Cruise Lines flagship that left Port Everglades on Jan. 31. The ship docked at Valparaiso, Chile, and then left on Tuesday on the last segment of a three-leg trip expected to end in San Francisco.
The man's wife reported him missing at about 9:30 a.m. after she found what appeared to be a suicide note, Carnival officials said. The man was last seen at about 4:30 a.m.

Since the year 2000, 109 cruise ship passengers have gone overboard; 56 on ships owned by the Carnival Corp.
Investigations by the Coast Guard and FBI of many of these incidents have been haphazard, disorganized, and ineffective. Would this have anything to do with the obscene amount of money spent by the cruise lines on lobbying and campaign donations or the fact that many employees of the FBI and Coast Guard may want to get a job with the cruise lines once they retire from the government? Many disapearances and other cruise ship crimes and accidents remain unsolved. Instead of one treained unit handling the inquiries, each disappearance seems to handed out to different regional FBI offices. American cruise passengers should demand that independent law enforcement and safety personnel be aboard every cruise ship at sea.

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