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 CNN Cruise Firewanted. "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 VacationIt 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.

Read about the top 10 most outrageous cruise ship stories for 2013 here.

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.


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  • Michael Bauman

    Congratulations on a wonderful year, James. Your contributions were enlightening, informative, and useful. Well done!
    Best to you for a 2014.
    Dr. Michael Bauman

  • Daniel Skriker

    Your New Year’s resolution should be as follows:

    -Lighten up
    – Take a cruise, you have no right to post the way you do and you can’t say you have personal experience.

  • John Goldsmith

    Happy New Year Mr. Walker. While I don’t always agree with some of what you write, I do read it all. I won’t be cruising in 2014, not because of safety concerns, but for logistical reasons.I am planning a trip in 2015 and I will most certainly be watching the Industry to see what direction the lines will be taking in the new year. In the event that nothing changes or decline going forward, then I may vote with my wallet in regard to the trip.
    That is the only way, we as travelling public, can enforce our displeasure with any corporation or industry. With your site and others publishing information regarding the industry,and keeping everyone informed, better decisions will be made.
    Have a good year, I look forward to blogging you during the year.

  • Andy Smithers

    Let’s try this again! Write an article about Micky Arinson and his lack of exposer to the pubic or press, American taxes (not being paid) and switching nationalities to hide his wealth, or even exposure to the cruise trade writers like your self. This would be a huge story for you in 2014! The question is will you write it? The real inside story is there. Shine some light were none have gone before. That will be the biggest story ever. I depend on your knowledge and trust you can do a balanced report. Heck the man owns half of South Florida and pays no taxes… DO IT!

  • Daniel:

    Thanks for your comment. Speaking of experience, you’re 14 years old. According to your one-entry blog, it looks like you have been on one cruise. You stated that “it is the best holiday you WILL ever have.” We’re glad to hear that. We wish you safe cruising on your next cruise too.