Today is January 1st. The first day of 2012! This year over 14,000,000 people will sail on cruise ships. Cruising continues to be one of the fasting growing travel industries, with a wide variety of cruise ships and destinations. It is not a perfect industry and I consider myself one of its harshest critics. But If you are considering taking a cruise this year, be safe and have a good time. There are lots of good sources of information online. I picked my favorite 12 blogs for 2012, from number 12 to number 1 (twitter name follows website/blog):
12. Mikey's Cruise Blog by @mikeycruiseblog. This is a blog which I started following this year. The founder is Mikey Faust who, although just 15 years old, is the head blogger of this increasingly popular blog. Mikey's Cruise Blog contains interesting articles written by Mikey and two other bloggers. He just awarded the 2011 "Cruisey Awards" for best cruise line, best cruise director, best new ship, and so forth. Somehow I won best cruise blog. That automatically makes his cruise blog a top dozen blog in my book. Keep an eye on Mikey's Cruise Blog this year.
11. CruiseMates - the "Complete Online Guide Cruise Guide and Community." An online cruise community and message board somewhat like Cruise Critic (see below) but on a smaller scale. I have bumped heads over the years with its chief author, Paul Motter, regarding the issue of cruise ship crimes and unexplained disappearances of cruise passengers. But CruiseMates nonetheless contains tons of information and has knowledgeable and pleasant bloggers. If you want cruise friendly editorials, this is the one channel for you. It needs to become active on Twitter to become a top 10 player in the cruise world of social media.
10. The Ocean Escape, by @CruiseMan3000. This high energy cruise blog is authored by Shon "Cruise Man 3000" Ford, who is an unabashed cruise fan and NCL fan in particular. His blog contains a "cruisetacular" (trademark pending) collection of Shon's personal cruising experiences, cruise ship reviews, and cruise line ratings. Feeling blue? Read Shon's exuberant & joyful articles. If his blog were a church, I would join just for the fellowship.
9. (Tie) Cruise Line Fans by @CruiseLineFans, a friendly cruise community with cruise reviews and a cruise forum / message board, and Cruise-Addicts by @CruiseAddicts, another popular cruise community. Its website has a good cruise news section, a forum, cruise tracking application and gallery. I don't know the principals behind either site but enjoy the interesting articles.
8. Cruise Maven by @CruiseMaven. This is another cruise blog that I just started reading this year. Authored by Sherry Laskin, a freelance travel writer, blogger and photographer, Cruise Maven's blog is bright and airy and contains well written articles and sharp photos. She occasionally blogs on her first hand observations about potentially embarrassments to the cruise lines, such as when a cruise ship recently flunked a CDC inspection. A real pro, Sherry's articles have appeared in many travel industry publications such as Travel Trade, Travel Weekly, Travel and Leisure News, and Senior Scene Magazine, as well as online media such as Travel Market Report, and CruiseReviews.com.
7. Chris Cruises by @OrlandoChris. Chris Owen is the editor of his blog which has a reputation for straight forward and insightful information about cruising. I like Chris' blog because it strikes the right balance between cheerleading for the cruise industry and frank discussions about parts of the cruise industry which need improving. For example, he has written articles about the need for parents to supervise kids on cruises which are right on the mark. Chris is from Orlando and writes for Examiner and Gadling in addition to his website, LifeIsCruising.
6. Cruise Critic by @CruiseCritic. This cruise community is a real juggernaut. It has by far the most members and the most hard core cruise fans. Its members will often report on an outbreak of a virus or an overboard passenger - often before the cruise ends and before the mainstream media publishes anything. On the down-side, its community seems like the least diversified place on the planet. Its message boards often turn vicious with flame wars, and a dissenting opinion is often ridiculed. Threads critical of the cruise lines are sometimes pulled. The usual comment from a CruiseCritic fan left on my blog is something like "feed the lawyers to the sharks!" or something equally enlightened. Cruise Critic has not overcome the stigma of being exposed for being a paid cruise line cheerleader and shilling for Royal Caribbean on its reviews and message boards. Whenever the cruise industry needs some good news, Cruise Critic will interview a couple of PR people at CLIA and deliver a puff piece for their cruise line friends.
5. Captain Greybeard by @CaptGreyBeard. Perhaps its the British accent or the fact that my parents lived in London, but John Honeywell is one of my favorite cruise bloggers. He writes for the U.K.'s Mirror about cruises. Insightful. Witty. Good stuff. He is also the only person I know who can type while holding a martini.
4. Cruise Radio by @CruiseRadio. Doug Parker and his sidekick Matt Baisford are the geniuses behind this ridiculously popular blog and radio show which contains a continuous stream of interviews with travel agents, cruise executives, crew employees and tourism representatives. Doug is the founder and friendly face of Cruise Radio. He exploded onto the scene in 2009 and has risen to the top of the world of cruise social media. He seems to be the one person in the world of cruising who is perpetually on a cruise ship having a good time. Why do I think he has a beer koozie in one hand and a microphone in the other when he conducts his witty interviews? A great, fun show with some good info to boot.
3. Cruise Junkie by Professor Ross Klein (no twitter). While the U.S. media refused to take a critical look at the shortcomings of the North American cruise lines over the past five years, Canadian sociology professor Ross Klein has been a diligent watchdog of the cruise industry. He has testified before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives about the problem of crime and sexual assaults on cruise ships. In an industry known for secrecy where what happens at a sea stays at sea, Professor Klein is the only credible independent source accurately tracking issues such as cruise overboards and noro-virus outbreaks.
2. Expert Cruiser by @ExpertCruiser. Anita Dunham-Potter is a rare find - a travel enthusiast who is as principled as she is intelligent. She is experienced about the cruise industry and her articles reflect that. She recently joined the USA Today cruise team along with Gene Sloan. It really not fair to the other cruise bloggers. Its like teaming up Dwayne Wade and LeBron James.
1. CruiseLog by CruiseLog. Gene Sloan is the perfect host for the perfect blog about cruising. The blog is light on editorial opinion and encourages discussion and debate on all sides of the issue. The marketing people at USA Today were ahead of the curve when they launched their "capture the national conversation" mission many years ago, and it worked particularly well with its travel section around cruises with Gene Sloan as the host. You can read about the success of the CruiseLog community in the best selling book "The Hyper-Social Organization." Gene will pen a short article about some newsworthy cruise topic. He has nothing to sell and no ax to grind. The USA Today readers will leave their comments pro and con, including some really thoughtful ideas. A lively debate mostly by intelligent travelers. A far cry from the lynch mob mentality at Cruise Critic.
Did I leave your favorite out? Leave a comment below . . .