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September 1, 1999
CruiseMates Sets Sail as the Web's Independent Voice for Cruisers
The Internet's first comprehensive, editorially independent online cruise magazine, CruiseMates.com ( http://www.CruiseMates.com), has been launched by noted cruise authority Anne Campbell, co-founder and former editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic on America Online.
Advertising-supported and not affiliated with any cruise line or travel agency, CruiseMates is a free-to-join "community of cruisers."Features include message boards, daily multiple chat rooms, member ship reviews and peer-hosted areas where kids, teens, singles, gay/lesbians and parents can read targeted articles, ask questions of area hosts, and meet online.
CruiseMates' articles are objective and informative, written in a conversational, entertaining style with a focus on cruise ships and the people who love to sail aboard them. Contributing writers include Fran Golden, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cruise Travel Vacations" for 1999 and 2000; and nationally published cruise writers Arline and Sam Bleecker.
CruiseMates is the first Internet site designed to help cruisers connect with each other before their sea-going vacations begin. "CruiseMate Match" is search engine in which users can enter ship and departure date of future cruises and "match" their interests and demographics with others who are sailing on the same cruise. Another unique aspect is the "Net's Best Bargains" section, which offers the top cruise bargains CruiseMates can find, continuously updated from a large pool of cruise-specialist travel agencies.
The site also offers objective ship reviews by Campbell that rate vessels from one- to five-stars-plus, along with "value for money" ratings for all major cruise ships and specialty vessels. In addition, readers can access ship deck plans, sample menus and daily programs.
Reviews are supplemented with a steady stream of lively feature articles with insiders' advice on topics from bargain hunting to ship cuisine. CruiseMates also hosts cruises for its members, the first scheduled March 25, 2000 on Princess Cruises' new Ocean Princess sailing round-trip from San Juan to southern Caribbean ports. Rates for the one-week voyage begin at $959 per person, double occupancy, including taxes and port charges.
Other areas include a monthly poll, bi-monthly newsletter, and cruise reviews written by CruiseMates members. CruiseMates' editor, Anne Campbell, authored the 1994 and 1995 editions of Fielding's Guide To Worldwide Cruises prior to co-founding Cruise Critic on America Online and serving, until recently, as that site's editor-in-chief. CruiseMates' publisher, Paul Motter, is affiliated with the successful online investment site Motley Fool. Back to Top
January 7, 2000
Good Ship? Bad Ship? You Be the Judge!
Online cruise magazine offers an innovative new service.
NEW YORK, NY (Jan. 6, 1999) - CruiseMates.com, the first editorially independent cruise magazine on the Internet, has introduced a new Ship Rating Poll where visitors to the site can give their own ratings to the ships they've sailed on.
Cruisers can rate ships from one to five in each of several areas including food, service, accommodations, entertainment, shore excursions, overall condition of ship, children's facilities and value for money. Cruisers can then specify what they consider to be the ship's biggest strength and weakness, and finally assign an overall rating for the ship from one to ten.
The poll is ongoing and the results are cumulative. Other site visitors can use the poll results as a research tool for narrowing down the ship selection process. They are able to pull up the rating results for as many as three ships at once, comparing them side-by-side.
The new Ship Rating Poll is an added resource designed to complement CruiseMates' own critiques and ratings of ships by well known cruise writer Anne Campbell. CruiseMates has also expanded its chat-room programs to include the "Online Cruise Bargains" where cruisers can meet travel agents in the CruiseMates chat-room to scout out the best deals on the ship of their choice. "Online Cruise Bargains" is held on the first Monday of each month.
According to Anne Campbell, CruiseMate.com's editor-in-chief, the most heavily accessed feature is "News and Bargains," a daily listing of cruise industry news plus the best discounts she can find every day from a variety of travel agents. Another very popular CruiseMates area is "Let's Meet on Board," a search engine already containing hundreds of listings by cruisers who enter the ship and departure date for their future cruises and "match" their interests and demographics with others who are sailing on the same cruise.
Another new feature is the "Cruising Alaska 2000" section with the most comprehensive information on ships cruising this region on the Internet. Features include "Best of the Best in Alaska," "Small Ships" and "First-time Alaska Cruiser."
"One characteristic unique to cruising is the opportunity to meet online in message boards, chat rooms and by e-mail, and then to sail together as a group," Campbell said. CruiseMates.com has scheduled two "Netbuddy Cruises," including the March 25, 2000 voyage of Princess Cruises' new Ocean Princess and the Sept. 17, 2000 cruise of Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas.
Internet cruise magazine and community CruiseMates.com, launched September 4, 1999, is advertising-supported, editorially unbiased, and not affiliated with any cruise line or travel agency. CruiseMates is a free-to-join "community of cruisers" with feature articles, ship reviews, daily news and special-interest areas for first-time cruisers, singles, families and gay/lesbian cruisers. In addition to Anne Campbell, CruiseMates' staff of 22 includes well-known cruise writers: Fran Golden who penned "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cruise Travel Vacations" for 2000 and Frommer's Guides to cruising in Alaska and Europe; and syndicated travel authors Arline Bleecker and Mary Ann Hemphill.
Other features include message boards and cruise chat. CruiseMates' editor, Anne Campbell, wrote the 1994 and 1995 editions of Fielding's Guide To Worldwide Cruises prior to co-founding Cruise Critic on America Online, where she served until recently as editor-in-chief. CruiseMates' publisher, Paul Motter, is affiliated with the successful online investment site Motley Fool, www.fool.com. For additional information, contact Paul Motter at [email protected] or call (212) 579-1917. To visit CruiseMates.com, go to: www.cruisemates.com. Back to Top
March 16, 2000
Cruise Passengers Share Their Gripes with CruiseMates.Com
Consumer surveys conducted by the cruise industry have repeatedly found that overall customer satisfaction with cruising vacations ranks among the highest of any travel experience. But CruiseMates.Com, the independent Internet cruise magazine, has uncovered the things that really bother experienced cruise passengers the most.
CruiseMates Editor in Chief Anne Campbell asked readers to share their gripes about cruising, and she got plenty of replies�but not what you might expect, just lots of little, nagging aspects of the cruise experience that left many vacationers doing a slow burn.
The most common gripes of cruisers include:
Port lectures by cruise staff that tell passengers very little about the destination they are about to visit, but instead concentrate on promoting the line's shore tours (which cost extra) and on-shore shopping recommendations. Moreover, "They need to state if they are getting any compensation for sending their cruisers to certain stores," says one traveler. Others noted that in a few ports, some lines don't allow passengers off the ship at all unless they buy a shore excursion.
The policies of some cruise lines that prohibit passengers from bringing liquor or spirits on board and drinking it in their cabins�forcing them instead to buy all their drinks from the ship. "I should be allowed, as an adult, to bring whatever I please to my room�within reason, of course," one passenger wrote.
The growing trend among cruise lines to charge extra for many on-board services and amenities�including dining in some specialty restaurants�while still promoting cruise prices as being "all-inclusive." Especially grating to many passengers is the practice of charging extra for soft drinks with dinner.
The persistence of the photographers in taking pictures and the increasing price for ship photos, in some cases as high as $10.
The annoying ploy that some passengers use to "reserve" prime deck chairs for themselves--coming out in the morning and placing a towel, or other personal items on the chair to indicate to others that it is already "taken," although they may not return for several hours.
Smoking. Several respondents urged cruise lines to designate more ships as totally smoke-free, or at the very least to restrict smoking to a few indoor areas�or none at all.
The practice by shore tour operators of herding passengers into "tourist trap" souvenir stands before returning them to the ship.
"The major cruise lines are generally very good about using passengers' comment cards to fix problems with on-board service," Campbell said. "But our readers' replies indicate there are some areas where the lines haven't yet caught up with customer demand."
"Our readers have gripes, but not about the things the media has been writing about," says CruiseMates publisher Paul Motter. "This is what is really on their minds, and it's obvious that the overall satisfaction level remains extremely high."
Cruisemates.com (http://www.cruisemates.com) is an online magazine and community where experienced cruisers can share their thoughts, and where novices and prospective passengers can read reviews of all the major ships. The site also features articles by prominent cruise journalists about all aspects of seagoing vacations. Back to Top
April 10, 2000
New CruiseMates Service Matches Consumer Needs With Travel Agent Deals
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 10, 2000--Travelers no longer need to spend hours searching the internet to get the best price on their cruise vacation. CruiseMates.com, an online magazine covering all aspects of cruising, announces an innovative new feature - the ``I Need a Cruise'' Bargain Finder.
CruiseMates' Bargain Finder is a simple-to-use tool that connects consumers seeking discounts on cruises with travel agents who can offer the best deals that match the consumers' needs. There is no charge to use the bargain finder to either cruisers or travel agents.
Cruisers seeking a bargain simply input their preferred destination, the period or dates of the cruise and desired itinerary length. They may add details such as a specific ship name and preferred cabin category, a target price range and any other pertinent information.
Travel agents simply click on the bargain hunter's posting and reply with their best offer, along with their name, agency, e-mail address and phone number. To ensure confidentiality, consumers' postings will not show their e-mail addresses. CruiseMates will forward the travel agent replies to the cruisers placing the ads, thus ensuring bargain hunters that their personal information, including their email addresses, will not be revealed to solicitors as a result of placing the ad.
According to CruiseMates' editor-in-chief, Anne Campbell, ``Since travel agents' faxes are constantly receiving discount offers from the cruise lines, this is the perfect opportunity for bargain hunters and agents with great prices and last minute deals to benefit from advanced technology. Moreover, it saves cruisers time over searching the entire Internet for discounts.''
Cruisemates.com is an online magazine with original content and a community where experienced cruisers can share their thoughts, and where novices and prospective passengers can read reviews of all the major ships. The site also features articles by prominent cruise journalists about all aspects of seagoing vacations.
February 6th, 2004
Time for a Cruise? Remember These Tips for Shopping Online
NEW YORK, Feb. 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- More travelers than ever are using the Internet to research and buy their trips -- but booking a cruise vacation is not the same as reserving an airline seat or hotel room, according to Anne Campbell, editor of CruiseMates. This is the cruise industry's "Wave Season," the time of year when major lines are inundated with bookings for the months ahead. Industry executives predict that in 2004, Wave Season cruise bookings will show a return to pre-9/11 levels, and that trend is also reflected in visitor traffic to CruiseMates ( http://www.cruisemates.com ), the online cruise consumer magazine. A record 162,999 unique visitors consulted CruiseMates during January 2004, according to CruiseMates' publisher Paul Motter -- an increase of 60% over the previous month. "Not only are people using the Internet to research cruises more than ever before, they are also booking substantially more cruises online," Motter said. While CruiseMates itself does not sell cruises, many online cruise agencies promote their services there. With hundreds of travel agents selling cruises on the Internet at attractive prices, CruiseMates editor Anne Campbell offers these tips on shopping for and/or buying a cruise on the Internet. * Only book a cruise online if you are an experienced cruiser and feel comfortable making your own arrangements. * Booking a cruise online is faster, gives you instant access to all available inventory, and can save you money, since many established cruise agencies now offer a discount for booking online. * Although it is possible to go directly to a cruise line's Web site to book, there is no price advantage compared to using an online cruise agency, and you might even pay more for the same cruise. Many well- established cruise agencies now offer online booking capability, and in addition to a possible discount for booking online, you also gain the advantages a full-service cruise agency provides, such as air and hotel arrangements if you need them. * Customer support varies considerably among online cruise agencies. Look for a toll-free number prominently displayed on the agency's Web site, so you'll know a travel agent will be on hand in case you need to contact them later. Be wary of online agencies that will communicate only by email. * Look for well-established online agencies that belong to professional organizations like Cruise Lines International Assn. (CLIA) and/or the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). The agencies offering services in CruiseMates' online cruise shopping mall, Cruise Bargains, are all well-established cruise-only agencies, among the biggest and best in the nation. * The Internet lets you compare prices from a number of travel agents. But remember that pricing for cruises is as volatile as it is for airline seats. When price-shopping, be aware that the low lead price you see promoted for a particular ship or cruise is usually for an inside cabin, i.e., one with no windows. * Suites and cabins with balconies almost always sell out first, so make sure you don't wait too long to book if your heart is set on one of these premium categories. When you find a price that you consider attractive, book it soon, because it may not be available for long. For people who have never cruised before, Campbell recommends the following: * Do not book online. Consult a cruise travel professional. * Never shop by price alone. A ship you don't love is never a bargain. Do your research first, and find the particular vessels that come closest to meeting your own interests and lifestyle (CruiseMates can help with its thoroughly researched ship reviews). Then look at itineraries and prices for those ships. * Once you've narrowed down the field, have a full-service cruise agency make the booking for you. A cruise cabin isn't an airline seat: Cabins come in many categories that vary in location, size and amenities. There are many other arrangements to be made that may be dinner reservations, transfers, air travel, etc. CruiseMates is an Interactive Cruise Guide -- not a travel agency. Recommended by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and ABC-TV's "The View." Contact: Paul Motter, President, CruiseMates, Inc. http://www.CruiseMates.com. 602-279-4356