Cruize Cast: Cruise Blog
Today, I was inspired by a blog post on MeetOnCruise.com http://meetoncruise.com/blog/who-wrote-that-cruise-review to write almost a companion piece. That article asked whether or not it matters who writes a cruise review as to if is trustworthy or useful. As I began thinking about this question, I came to the conclusion that, for me, who writes the review is not nearly as important as what they say. So, what DO I look for in a cruise review? Details and honesty.


The worst cruise review, in my opinion, goes like this: "We had such a great cruise. The ship was beautiful, the staff super-helpful and the food was amazing. We will sail with ... again." Why do I hate those reviews or incarnations of them? Because they tell me NOTHING. (Well, maybe that someone enjoyed a cruise) Do I hate positive reviews? No, there are equal opportunity offenders among the negative reviewers as well. "This was the cruise from hell! The food was terrible; the staff was aloof and looked like they despised us or were completely unaware of us. Our fellow cruisers were horrible, trashy people who helped to ruin our experience. The ship appeared to be run down; the shows a rehash of what everyone has seen before and the cruise director was annoying. We will never cruise... again."
Now, although that review appears to have more detail, does it really? Is there anything in that review that I can actually take to the bank, helping me make a decision about a future cruise on that ship? And then, imagine reading those two reviews back to back on a site, and you just want to throw your hands up in the air and wonder "what is the truth?!?"


Now that we have explored the options for bad cruise reviews, let's talk about what makes a cruise review good. When I say details, what exactly do I mean? I want specifics that I can weigh for myself to decide whether or not that particular issue/good thing is something that will affect me. Supposed someone went on a cruise and stayed concierge in an amazing suite, and understandably had a great time. That review will never matter to me because I will never afford a suite. If, on the other hand, they stayed in a standard category room and commented on how big or small it is, I can use that. Maybe they say that the bathroom was too small to hold even a small makeup kit. There is information I can relate to. Now, it might or might not affect me depending on how much I care about storage space in the bathroom, but it is helpful. Going back to the MeetOnCruise article, staterooms are one category which I really tend to prefer reviews from normal people because often travel writers get to stay in better rooms than the rest of us. If you read the Frommer's cruise guide, you will notice the bias toward suites. Most ship reviews have multiple paragraphs on the various suites, but only a sentence on standard staterooms.


Food is one area where details are so important to me, and yet, it tends to be a category where people feel okay just saying: "the food was good" or "it was okay". I much prefer to see comments telling me that their steak was cooked perfectly every time or that the hamburgers on lido deck often had a hard bun from sitting out too long. If a specialty restaurant was not worth the money, why not? In our recent experience on the Carnival Magic, the courses surrounding the steak were unfamiliar to my husband, and since you can only order one of each course, it makes it more difficult to try something and change it out. He tried some soup that he hated, and then traded it for another appetizer, but really didn't enjoy anything but the steak because of his inclination toward straightforward food. Now, I like my food a little more frou frou and complicated, so if he writes a review for the steakhouse stating what I stated above, I can rest assured that I probably won't have similar feelings and will likely enjoy my meal at the steakhouse. If he had just said that the steakhouse was not to his liking and not worth it, I would have been left wondering. On a previous cruise, I had a creme brulee that didn't crack. It was more like pudding. Most of the desserts on that cruise had similar issues, just not living up to what they were supposed to be. Since my husband really loves eating dessert on a cruise, this was a big deal. Other people might not care at all, but my description has at least told them to not get their hopes up too high for dessert.

I won't give examples for every category, but you get the idea. Last spring, there was a huge swath of terrible reviews for almost every ship out of New Orleans and Galveston right around Easter. Apparantely, it was Easter vacation in Mexico, and there were a large number of unsupervised children running all over the ship, knocking on stateroom doors at all hours, interrupting stage shows with cat calls, and other general mayhem. If you read those reviews without knowing what was going on, you would think that these ships hosted the worst staff in cruising and might would be gunshy to ever book a cruise on them. Knowing the details, however, tells you to perhaps really look at when you are booking a cruise in relation to everyone else.

So, that is just my opinion of what makes a good cruise review. What do you think? Has a review ever stopped you from booking a particular ship or line? Happy review writing, and I look forward to reading all of your very detailed cruise reviews. Oh, and if you have any you would like to share, feel free to email us at james@cruizecast.com and we would love to post them on our site.

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