*The Introduction from the original Royal Caribbean Fan Blog, 03/01/2006.
I created RCIFan.com to share and expand my experience of traveling with Royal Caribbean International. I hope this web site will be of interest and prove valuable to those preparing their first cruise with RCI or other lines. Likewise, it is my hope those who share my interest in the RCI lines will find it an enjoyable site to reflect on their own travels and share their own experiences.
Cruise are unique within the vacation industry. Unlike most vacation options where travel is incidental, with cruises it is integral to the experience. Even with guided tours, the bus transporting you from one point to the next is not part of the vacation. In a cruise vacation, the mode of travel IS the destination.
Cruise travel is among the fastest growing segments of the vacation industry. This growth is not only driving the evolution of all aspects of cruise travel, but is changing the makeup of its clientèle. Cruise travel today is a thoroughly modern experience, but has its roots deep in the past of travel at sea.
This aspect has been the basis for two general types of cruise. Those with experience or an attraction to the history of sea travel and those who have first traveled in the last ten years. The nature of cruise vacations engenders a number of qualities among its proponents and critics. And make no mistake, like every other kind, the cruise industry has both critics and issues.
There are the topical issues one might occasionally read about in the news. Crew pay and benefits, environmental concerns, terrorism, and things named after obscure cities in Ohio with racing tracks. There are issues which are best known and understood by those with experience taking a cruise. These include the clash of philosophy between traditionalists and more recent arrivals to cruise travel, the tug-of-war between cruise lines trying to make a profit and consumers seeking to enjoy an all-inclusive vacation.
Yet in the end, nothing has prevented legions of eager travelers of all ages and backgrounds from flocking to piers across the world. Though Royal Caribbean Fan is a work of love always in progress, I will explore these topics through this site. My viewpoint is not wholly objective. I enjoy cruise vacations, and I am not given to off the cuff rants.
I am fully aware of all views of cruise travel, and rather than duck an issue, have developed my view as thoughtfully as I am able, and present them in a clear fashion. When you research cruise travel on the internet you will find two general groups among the large online community. These groups might be best described as those who are rabid fans of cruise travel, and those who have had an unsatisfactory experience and are highly driven to express themselves online.
These two groups clash frequently online. The former typically tells the latter to air their complaints someplace else and that they haven't experienced anything like that which the complainers describe. The complainers are most often hostile in tone, and retort that those attacking them are apologists for the cruise industry, living in a fantasy world.
The reality which these two groups exist give both of their comments perspective. People who enjoy cruise travel often enjoy relating and reliving their experience online. Like myself, these people have had a wonderful time, typically unlike anything they have experienced before. When people with negative views post on forums, it is disruptive to people's extended enjoyment online. Thus people tend to react curtly to those with complaints. I would go so far as to say, that as I note below, if people complaining are prone to being over-the-top in their opinions, people who defend a cruise line are the same in reverse.
Those who take a cruise and have a negative experience and these people are not restricted to solely first time cruisers tend to be much more negative and lacking perspective than the average person. The nature of the internet tends to distill emotions and feelings until you get the extreme of both sides. Thus the complaints you see online will tend to be more heated and damning than what most people with a dissatisfying moment have. I mention this here, because I want people without experience in cruise travel to understand the world they are moving into, before reading message boards or online reviews give them a possibly slanted view of reality.
The best way to learn and enjoy cruise travel is to educate yourself. Take all opinions with a grain of salt. Never take marketing literally, but also don't allow yourself to become jaded without cause. The internet has become the best way to become a savvy cruise traveler before you even board a ship. Having an accurate and well informed understanding of the cruise experience is worth three extra days at sea. The more you know, the more you will relax and enjoy yourself. I hope my website will aid you in your efforts. Visit often for updates and news.
Nathan W.L. Boyle
Creator, Royal Caribbean Fan and Cruise Aficionados.