Most cruise lines would kill to have a fan page operated for free by a loyal customer who loves to cruise.

There are several examples of popular fan pages operated by loyal fans. Like the RoyalCaribbeanBlog operated by Matt Hochberg and the DisneyCruiseLineBlog operated by Scott Sanders.  Mr. Hochberg’s Royal Caribbean blog has an extremely popular Facebook page with over 150,000 likes. Mr. Sanders’ also has a popular Facebook page following for his Disney Cruises fan blog. Plus, both sites have active Twitter accounts, @theRClblog and @TheDCLblog. The fan pages are filled with photos, videos, interesting articles and a place where fans can book a cruise, all of which greatly benefit Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruises in their marketing efforts.

But don’t tell that to Ronny Cop, a Belgium cruise fan who has faithfully run the Celestyal Cruises Fan Club Facebook page for the past several years ever after he first sailed with Celestyal Cruise in 2015.  This evening, Mr. Cop received an anonymous email from Celestyal Cruises’ “marketing department,” bearing no name (and only an illegible signature).  Celestyal instructed him to immediately “discontinue the use and operation of the fan page,” giving  him a deadline to cease operations no later than this Friday, at “5pm Greek local time.”

Comments posted on the Celestyal fan page in reaction to the news criticized Celestyal for kicking Mr. Cop to the curb:

  • “This has to be the dumbest move by a cruise line I have ever seen! Way to lose all your customers!”
  • “. . . This is bullying and I don’t think they have any legal basis to do it – you (did) it first and it’s obvious that you’re not impersonating the company. All other cruise lines have fan pages – I manage one and It’s been welcomed by the line.”
  • “Wow!!! . . . considering how much publicity you have generated for Celestyal Cruises, this is a cyber slap in the face for you Ronny!!! I’m sure there are thousands of unofficial fan groups on Facebook for every conceivable company/ product. . . “
  •  Under the fair usage rules I’m not sure they can force you to do this? As long as you are not profiting from it or selling anything? I mean, this is kind of crazy to turn down free publicity isn’t it?

Celestyal’s excuse for trying to shut the fan page down is that it plans to start its own fan page. But it seems counter-productive not to discuss the line’s new marketing strategy with Mr. Cop and use the goodwill and web presence which he created as a base to start the corporate page. Perhaps Celestyal should have offered him a free cruise with his family as part of the consideration for such a win-win proposal. Or Celestyal could have at least politely asked him to consider changing the site to an “unofficial” page.

Mr. Cop is not asking for legal advice from me, but it seems silly to think that there is any legal basis for Celestyal Cruises to force him to shut down the fan page. Nor is there any practical way that a Cyprus-based cruise line based in Greece can require anyone residing in Belgium to do anything. Perhaps creating a Celestyal Cruises parody site by Mr. Cop would be a good idea?  But Mr. Cop, who booked two cruises with Celestyal for 2020, just last week, and has faithfully operated his fan page “out of love” for the cruise line for the past three years, seems too classy for that.

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