Yesterday several passengers from the Holland America Line Veendam contacted us because they were upset that a passenger went overboard during a cruise to the Mexican Riviera. They returned from the cruise knowing that someone had died at the end of the cruise as the ship sailed back to SanDiego, but they did not know why the passenger went overboard, or whether it was a murder or a suicide. Some passengers thought that a child went overboard. They were very concerned.

Without exception, these passengers told us that there was no information available from the cruise line or anywhere on the internet about the overboard.  Its was like there was a blackout imposed.

These individuals  seemed genuinely concerned about the passenger who died. These were not "rubberneckers" wanting to take part in some type of morbid gossip. They had seen bits and pieces of Cruise Critic Monkeysa sad spectacle during what was otherwise a pleasurable cruise.  They were worried when they went home. They wanted basic information about what happened around them and, in many ways, what happened to them to the extent that they and their children had witnessed an unsettling tragedy.  

Some of the people who contacted us said that there were initially some comments posted on the message boards at Cruise Critic.  But, according to the people contacting us, these comments were quickly deleted by Cruise Critic.

I have heard of these type of criticisms of Cruise Critic before. Message boards which contain information of potential embarrassment to the cruise lines are often pulled from the cruise-friendly Cruise Critic.    

So I went online to see if anyone was reporting on the HAL overboard other than this blog. 

What I found was interesting, 

There were several links indicating that there were a number of people who left comments on the Cruise Critic message boards. But when I clicked on the links, all of the links were disabled. First, there was the link on Google "Veendam-New Years cruise sad ending reported by a passenger …" There was the link "We had a strange last sea day, with a report of somebody falling past a window, a man-overboard signal, dropping a smoke flare and life ring, …" And there was the link "Person overboard on the Veendam New Years cruise??"

But clicking on all of these links led to an error message: "Invalid thread specified. If you followed a valid link, please notify the administrator."

The index to the threads under Holland America Line also contained no messages about the overboard. It had also apparently been scrubbed clean.

In my view, the Expedia-owned Cruise Critic is still the same online community of cruise fans who were exposed several years ago for being paid cruise line cheerleaders and shilling for Royal Caribbean on cruise reviews and message boards.

The cruise industry has suffered through lots of bad press in the past couple of years. Travel writers, most cruise bloggers, and other friends of the industry have leaned over backwards to give the cruise lines a break. But censoring cruise passengers who make legitimate inquiries on a message board relating to the cruise lines is a disservice to the cruising public. It perpetuates the lack of transparency which is part of the the cruise lines’ problem in the first place.

One of the passengers on the Veendam left us the following comment to our article:

"Thank you for the post, Jim. As a passenger that witnessed part of the discovery I do feel entitled to an explanation. While the crew seemed to handle this professionally, this was indeed a disturbing event. An explanation did not have to include the details, but may have at least provided some closure for at least those humans who were traumatized by "the incident" (to which it was referred by the captain). To carry on like nothing happened–on ship and in the media–was and continues to be even more disturbing."

  • Geoffrey M.

    We were on that cruise and were having lunch in the Pinnacle Grill when the man overboard was sounded. The recovery took place just below and out from where we were seated. I frespect the privacy of the family and the situation was handled professionally by the Captian and crew. Hoew ever it is interesting that the death and circumstances surrounding it have not been reported at all in the media or any where which is unusal given a death occured. It is upsetting but there were witness’s and they should also be put at ease. Accidents happen but they should be reported nontheless. I would be interested in knowing why there isn’t any news unless there is an ongoing FBI investigation but even if there is that comment could be addressed. Will be interesting to see what transpires.

  • Kathy

    Yes Cruise Critic deletes what they don’t like. I was verbally harassed on a roll call by another member as were several other people. They deleted my comments and banned me from posting for 3 days while the one doing the harassing nothing happened to him. Even during the cruise he kept posting stuff on the roll call until they locked the roll call. When he continued posting on a separate roll call and I reported it, they still did nothing. Why? Because they had sailed with him and was a “cheerleader” for him. They have their own agenda and if they don’t like something, it won’t be posted

  • jim

    I have lost a lot of respect for Cruise Critic. I have seen threads pulled that have turned nasty or rude, but I never saw anything like this. There is a story on their news page about overboards, yet they won’t allow information to be shared about this incident.

    It is very disappointing

  • karen

    I still never found out, nor can I find what happened when we had to detour and stop to disembark a medical pax because they were too sick to airlift???? This was on the Sep. 8 sailing of the RCCL FOS. Needless to say we were over 2 hrs late arriving into PC even though the captain said we would not belayed.

  • Cruise Critic harshly censors critics of cruise lines? I’m shocked, totally shocked. 🙂

    Host Mike (censor free ! !)

  • David

    I can attest that cruiesecritic does NOT publish a lot of criticizing reviews – my review of Carnival Splendor was not published and no explanation or reason was provided.
    What would you expect – CC makes money on advertising cruises, not criticizing them LOL
    Same old just like everywhere else – long live corporate scambags

  • ben

    As a person who witnessed the recovery and currently going through treatment for PTSD I was similarly dismayed by what appeared to be a blackout on the subject. The incident was handled “professionally” but poorly; very little was communicated to passengers and nothing was done for those of us who unfortunately were witnesses.

  • SissasMomE

    Cruise Critic is beyond ridiculous. They will leave personal insults on their boards, and yet delete any thread that is not favorable to the cruise line. The mod on the NCL is, by far, the worst!

  • B

    What I do not understand is that factual information is deleted but slandering is allowed.

    Will no longer base my opinion on cruise critic reviews.

  • Peter

    Yesterday we posted on Cruise Critic we were leaving Cruise Critic because of the ever increasing rudeness and general lack of common courtesy and mutual respect by fellow Cruise Critic members for fellow Cruise Critic members.

    About 7 Cruise Critic members responded with kind words of support and regret of us leaving Cruise Critic before the thread was pulled.