This Website’s Goals & Full Disclosure | FAQ
Avid \Av”id\, a. Longing eagerly for; eager. - Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary
Welcome to the Avid Cruiser website!
My goal is to help people like you make informed cruise vacation decisions by providing you with content that is personal, passionate, informed and inspired. On this site, you’ll find articles, videos and photos designed to help you make the best decision for your cruise vacation, your time on ship and your time in destinations.
Occasionally, you’ll find articles about the trials of travel, such as frustrations with airlines. I hope these articles are useful to travelers, but perhaps I am only venting my frustrations to my digital companion, the computer keyboard. It’s amazing how effective purging with fingers can be.
At other times, I may wax poetic, especially when I am moved by a special moment at sea or by an unforgettable place. It’s part of my desire to be a real travel writer. Of course, I know that your computer has a back button or that you can leave this site altogether, so I always strive to make everything I write relevant to readers.
Several fine writers also contribute to the Avid Cruiser, and I am grateful for their talents and friendship. Meet them under Who We Are.
It’s important that you know about my relationships with the companies I report on and whether those relationships compromise my journalistic integrity. I can say what I like, of course, but in the end, you’re the only judge of my journalistic integrity.
That said, there are two things you should know about me:
Issues of journalistic integrity were drilled into my head during my curriculum at one of America’s finest journalism schools, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. So it’s my spine, the concept and strict adherence to journalistic integrity. My guiding principle is that my first obligation is to you, the reader. If something really stinks on a cruise ship, I report it, particularly if it’s more than a one-off experience.
Need more validation? The editor of United Airlines’ in-flight magazine, Hemispheres, wrote these words about me not too long ago: Ralph has “won awards for my magazine with his creative, engaging, authoritative articles, which earned a letter of commendation from a cruise port Coast Guard commander for insider accuracy and refreshing insight into cruising.”
The second thing you should know is that I was a huge fan of Charles Kuralt, who was an Emmy-winning CBS reporter for nearly four decades. Stay with me for a moment so that I can clarify this seemingly random remark.
Kuralt had many guiding principles (he also had a 29-year extramarital affair, and if you care to read more about how I feel about that, you can read the piece I wrote for USA Today, Forgiving Charles Kuralt).
One of his guiding principles was to look beyond what the mass media was reporting. Despite media reports that constantly suggested that America was unraveling at its seams, Kuralt summed up his four decades of travel to me in an interview in 1994: “The country that I have found does not bear much resemblance to the one we read about on the front pages of newspapers or hear about on the evening news. The country that I found presents cups of coffee and slices of apple pie and people who always want you to stay longer than you have time to.”
What that says to me is that what you read and what you experience can be widely disparate. My goal on this web site is to close that disparity. Yes, you may read stories about a cruise line or ship that sucks, but that could be only the musings of a disgruntled writer. I promise to always look objectively and to report objectively.
Also, Kuralt roamed the backroads of America in search of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. He called those people heroes, because he said, “They keep the spirit of the country alive.”
Like Kuralt, I am in search of such people in my travels. There are lots of those people at sea, making sacrifices for their families back home, and I believe that by interacting with them and by getting to know them, we enrich our own lives.
And finally, Kuralt was not looking to uncover the dirt. “You know, most reporters can’t go back to the towns they wrote stories about,” Kuralt told me in that 1994 interview, and then added thoughtfully: “I never wrote that kind of story.”
My ambition is to be a little like Kuralt, to see and appreciate the good and to enjoy my time traveling and on board ships and to help you enjoy yours.
I am not a nit-picky critic, and I seldom complain without offering a solution. That’s something I learned from Charles (not Kuralt) and Alice (last names withheld), frequent cruisers on Oceania Cruises. One night over dinner on Regatta, people were offering critiques of various cruise lines. Alice prefaced her remarks by saying, “I try never to complain without offering a solution.”
I admired Alice for her sentiment, and that’s why you’ll find articles on this site such as Seabourn Odyssey: Five Little Annoyances And How To Deal With Them and Regatta’s Only Recurring Complaint.
Now that you know more about me, you should know about my relationships with the companies I report on.
How is Avid Cruiser supported?
Cruise lines, destinations and travel agents do support Avid Cruiser, primarily through project-based fees. Cruise lines and destinations, for example, hire me to produce videos or other projects. Does their funding bias me? I like to think not, but perhaps it does. I always strive to be truthful and helpful. The most important thing I have is my credibility. If you’re considering a cruise and you question something I have reported, contact me.
Do cruise lines or destinations ever pay me to write specific articles? I wish!
Do they ever dictate to me what to write? Never.
Do they ever ask me to remove stories that they may not like from my web site? No.
Do I filter negative comments from readers? No. On the contrary, I encourage opposing views or any information that will help inform others. In fact, when someone sends me a personal email complaining about something on a cruise or a ship, I ask them to post their remarks in the comments section on Avid Cruiser so that all can benefit.
Do I cruise for free? Yes, and to answer those who have asked, they do treat me like a VIP. But show me one person who the cruise lines do not treat as a VIP. And besides, almost all staff at all cruise web sites and publications travel for free. We’re invited on press trips and inaugurals, all expenses paid. Otherwise, we couldn’t afford to travel the way we do. Can you trust our reporting? That’s something only you can judge.
A Lifestyle With Downsides
Before you envy me too much, you should know that my lifestyle has its downsides: I’m divorced (though in a happy relationship), because of traveling too much; I have two children who I don’t get to see as often as I like; I barely eek out a living, because journalism pays so poorly; and I am nowhere near my ideal weight, because of all of the fine food that I can’t resist.
You’re Invited To Participate
Please join the discussion by leaving comments below the posts on the Avid Cruiser blog, and stay updated by subscribing to the RSS feed or the twice-weekly edition of the Avid Cruiser e-mail newsletter.
I encourage you to ‘like’ Avid Cruiser’s Facebook Page and join the others for informative conversations about cruising.
You may also want to know that Avid Cruiser is a member of the USA TODAY Travel Alliance, a content and advertising affiliation combining USA TODAY Travel’s award-winning content with a handpicked collection of leading travel blogs and niche sites. Read more.
Best regards, Ralph Grizzle