With 2013 ending, I've gone back over the 400 articles I have written this year to determine which one was the most popular.
The winner, by a landslide, was What Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know.
I wrote this article in February, ten days after the Carnival Triumph became forever known as the Carnival "Poop Cruise."
A senior editor at CNN called my office and asked me to write an opinion piece for CNN. I had never written an "opinion piece" for a newspaper or major network before. I asked her exactly what she wanted. "Easy," she said, "CNN wants your opinion about the cruise industry. Please send me your draft by noon."
Yikes! It was already 10:00 AM. So I closed my office door and thought for a few moments.
My thoughts came quickly: "the engines of the increasingly larger cruise ships are poorly maintained. The ships are haphazardly inspected and largely unregulated. The cruise lines pay their employees a pittance and push them as hard as they push their over-worked ships. Flag states like the Bahamas will look the other way when things go wrong. Triumph disasters will continue," I thought. So I started typing as quickly as I could.
That afternoon, CNN posted my thoughts in an article entitled "What Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know." The title was CNN's idea. But It is a variation of my blog's motto: "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."
The article quickly went viral with over 13,000 Facebook likes and 2,000 comments. The cruise industry complained bitterly to CNN and demanded an opportunity to write an article in response. A CLIA hack wrote an article entitled "A Cruise is a Safe and Healthy Vacation. It was a laugher. Only 27 people left comments, mostly mocking the cruise industry's out-of-touch message.
As we all know now, the next 10 months brought a steady stream of ship fires, disabled cruise ships, over-worked and under-paid crew members, and flag states like the Bahamas assisting the cruise lines rather than the victim when crew members sexually abuse children.
The cruise industry's promises of a "safe, secure and healthy" cruise were belied by a disastrous safety record for 2013. CLIA's assertion that fires and disabled ships are "rare" were contradicted by the empirical evidence that they are quite common.
There's a reason why the cruise lines have drafted one-sided, onerous cruise tickets to exonerate themselves in the most egregious circumstances of medical malpractice by cruise ship doctors, engine failures, fires, missed ports and repeated gastrointestinal viruses.
What should the cruising public expect realistically in 2014?
Will cruising become reasonably safe? Or will there be continued ship fires, disabled ships, and a disaster requiring a mass evacuation into the water?
I have my own thoughts about these issues. But most hard core cruise fans, travel agents, and cruise bloggers (I'll-write-a-nice-article-in-exchange-for-a-free-cruise) aren't interested in reading another "what cruise lines don't want you to know" article from me again. They are probably busy writing another "a cruise is a safe and healthy vacation" article for 2014.
Have a thought? Please leave a comment on our Facebook page.