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CruiseMates is One Year Old Today!

& Paul Motter

Happy Birthday to Us, Happy Birthday to Us...

And what a year it's been! There have been good times and difficult ones, but even with the trials and tribulations, the important thing is that our attitudes, hopes and dreams are more alive that ever!

Let's take a look at our first year...BBC Link

August 23rd, 1999 -- our very first day. We got lucky with a really great photo for our introduction... Norwegian Dream with its bow caved in after its collision with a cargo ship in the English Channel -- what a smashing introduction!

The lead feature that day was by Kuki, our new Cruisemates Cruise Director, entitled "Middle Aged and Sexy?" (see it in it's original form). It extolled the wonders in cruising for helping us forget the gravity of our daily lives - and how that gravity affects our ever-expanding waistlines.

We had "Meet Me on Board" ready and waiting for people to jump in and tell us what ship they were about to sail on. When we got our first listings we skipped for joy. Today we have over 1000 people listed -- looking to meet others sailing on the same ships and dates.

We had our very first chat the same night we opened, and we were delighted when people showed up right on time. We have had a lively chat every week night since that very first one.

We had message boards and -- OK, they could have been better. And now they are. Our new cruise-forums -- just added yesterday -- include pictures, hot links, email responses, threaded or unthreaded views, and they are customizable so you can use them in the manner that is best for you.

And yes, we admit it; we're getting older and we needed a facelift! So we put together a new look with easier to read type and more room for our articles and links. I believe our writers are the best online, and as an editor I want to present them in the best light possible. I love my job, it's a rewording experience.

Our "Rate the Ship Poll" was opened in January, 2000. Today, thousands of readers have responded to the continuing poll - recommended by Consumer Reports. Our Bargain Finder reverse classified ads were started in April, 2000. They allow cruisers to post a free listing for the cruise of their dreams, and to get responses from travel agents but still protect their privacy. Today there are over 1000 current listings of cruisers actively seeking a cruise getting responses from travel agents. We have had over 1600 listings to date, and it is still a free service to both sides.

Last and certainly not least, we now have permanent hosts in place for every one of our special cruise areas; teens, singles, families, Gay/Lesbian, and soon disabled. Please visit these areas and say "Hi!" to our fantastic staff.

Why do we do it? Because sometimes things that are free are worth a lot more than what you pay for them. How is it possible? Because of your support for us, and for our sponsors. We believe we bring the best cruisers, agents and cruise lines all together in one place. And as long as we have anything to say about it, that is the way it will stay.

We owe everything to people like you -- who visit us time and again to wish us well, who tell us when we are doing a good job, and who offer us constructive criticism when things could be better. Building a web community is a learning process, and we really appreciate the ways in which you have taught us how it should be done.

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