For the past two years, I have been interested in the use of Twitter as a method of educating the public about dangers on cruise ships.  Dangers that are real.  Dangers that the cruise lines don’t want the public to read about.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter is well aware that I tweet daily on issues that the cruise lines don’t discuss – sexual assaults of women and children, mistreatment of crewmembers, and the disappearances of people on the high seas. 

Yes, I know that I am annoying.  There are lots of cruise fans and travel agents on Twitter who use the #cruise hash-mark to market the joy of cruising, and I spoil the fun.  50% of the people who Oceania Cruises - TwitterI interact with on a routine basis disagree with me 100% of the time it seems.  But I know that my message is getting out there.  I would like to think that if one parent realizes that its not safe to leave your kids unsupervised on a cruise ship, then my last 5,500 tweets have been a worthwhile exercise.   

I am particularly fascinated by the way that cruise lines use Twitter and other social media.  Are they engaging in discussions with the public where they address unpleasant subjects with candor and in the process develop a reputation of transparency?  Or, are they just using Twitter and Facebook to create fan pages or other cult clubs?  Do they run and hide when they read tweets critical of their business practices? 

Earlier this week, I wrote an article about Oceania Cruises trying to convince a Judge in Miami to impose a limit of liability of only $65,000 in a case where it is alleged that an Oceania Cruises crewmember raped a 13 year old child on the Regatta cruise ship.  Stories like this are important.  Most parents don’t understand the significant number of sexual assaults which occur on cruise ships.  Few parents could possibly imagine that if a crewmember raped their little girl, the cruise line would try and make certain that the child didn’t receive fair and just compensation for her physical and emotional injuries.

I tweeted a few references to my blog article about Oceania Cruise’s disturbing behavior.  I always invite a cruise line’s response.  I even invite disagreeing cruise lines and travel agents an Oceania Cruisess - Twitteropportunity to write a guest blog – unedited – to tell the other side of the story.            

Oceania Cruises, which has been following me on Twitter for over a year, had no interest in discussing the story.   Instead, it "un-followed" me. 

"Unfollowing" critics seems like a poor way to manage a business’ online reputation.  Instead of explaining its conduct or at least expressing concern for the girl’s well being, the cruise line just turned and ran.   

Twitter is a proving ground of truth and transparency.  Twitter is not a place where slick unprincipled marketers can withstand scrutiny.  It is not a place where cowardly cruise lines like Oceania can survive.   

  • Will B.

    Doing the “unfollow” has these consequences as well:
    * Makes you look petty. (In this scenario, at least.) Like anyone cares if you unfollow them, anyway!
    * Yes, if it’s a critic you unfollow, it makes you look scared of what they say.
    * Removes their ability to “watch” you. If you scared me with your tweets, I’d want to listen even more closely to understand public perception (or what the public is being told) about me.

  • Lori

    I do not tweet or follow anyone on twitter. However I do follow you on facebook and receive your emails. As a consumer I truly appreciate the information you supply. But is it remotely realistic to expect a cruise line to say anything regarding any particular suit pending or otherwise as not to extend their liability? And as absurd as the limitation is to us wouldn’t the attorney(ies) defending Oceania be negligent not to try everything they could to limit their clients potential loss? I think the greater issue here is how unprotected all American citizens are when they sail outside U.S. ports. As a consumer, I either purchase directly from a cruise line that has a headquarters in the U.S.(I know of none outside of Miami) or through their representative or agent. I am taken back that an overseas cruise that is purchased stateside isn’t covered by U.S. laws. Are airlines the same?

  • Thanks Lori for your post.

    You make some good points.

    Yes, there are similarities between cruises outside of the U.S. and flying internationally, which is subject to the Warsaw Convention which limits the liability of air carriers to a low cap on damages.

    Regards Jim Walker