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Hanoj

Viking censorship?

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https://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/111170138/us-war-whistleblower-silenced-aboard-cruise-ship-to-new-zealand?fbclid=IwAR1rwzPG5Q2F8aqcRR5_yF8IAT1Qk3MKE2F-15VyRnWM6lBhvL1kJul9pbY

 

Saw this headline about Viking cancelling lectures by US war whistle-blower Gwenyth Todd while aboard the Viking Sun last week. Apparently guests were approached by reporters when going ashore at Wellington, NZ.  Anyone have more details? Think Viking will comment in the news media? Seems like a dubious way to handle things. Bigotry on the high seas?

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I just read the article. Here are my thoughts;

 

  • Newspaper article only shows one side of the story. Viking has not commented and probably will not comment; it is not their style. And who told the media she was fired.
  • The facts in the newspaper article are limited and not enough for outsiders to judge one way or another. So let's not rush to judgement.
  • Someone did not do their due diligence before booking this speaker; much better not to have booked her in the first place than to go through publicity of breaking the contract.
  • Passengers, if you don't like what the speaker is saying, walk out and don't come back. Dwindling audiences or even empty rooms will speak for themselves.
  • Can't imagine that Viking does not have guidelines for its speakers with penalties for ignoring those guidelines.
  • Read the slides and the topics for her talks. I would have walked out, if I had bothered to go at all. Not what I want to listen to when I am on vacation.
  • We are never going to learn the whole story.

 

Edited by Peregrina651

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I agree with all of Peregrina's points.  If I wasn't properly informed I would have walked out.  I want politics left at home when I am on a vacation. 

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I also agree with Peregrina's points.

 

With respect to lecturers, I suspect that Viking are no different from other cruise lines and all prospective lecturers must submit a copy of their content, including all power-points, for review and approval, before being hired. They are expected to present the approved content.

 

The article also mentions she was cancelled after presenting the 2nd of her 6 lectures, but was permitted to present 1 more lecture. Sorry, this doesn't make sense. If you get cancelled, it is normally with immediate effect and if you are already included in the daily schedule, you suddenly unwell, requiring the Cruise Director to make alternative arrangements.

 

Also note, at the end of the article it noted she was sick when disembarking the vessel.

 

Non-issue in my opinion, just a journalist that replaces facts with suppositions to invent a story.

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I never want to think about politics on holidays. It’s bad enough having to hear about politics at home. Although there will be an Australian Federal Election held while we are away in May. Sigh. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Heidi13 said:

Non-issue in my opinion, just a journalist that replaces facts with suppositions to invent a story.

 

I note that the story keeps changing. What I read this morning is not what I just a few minutes ago. Basic story is the same but details keep changing.

 

Also, how come this is making headlines in the first place. Can't be the first lecturer to have contract terminated mid cruise.

Edited by Peregrina651

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9 hours ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

I note that the story keeps changing. What I read this morning is not what I just a few minutes ago. Basic story is the same but details keep changing.

 

Also, how come this is making headlines in the first place. Can't be the first lecturer to have contract terminated mid cruise.

How it made headlines may have something to do with her whistle-blower status. Here is a lengthy article from 2012 about her: https://www.bendbulletin.com/news/1384027-151/once-a-rising-star-in-washington-now-afraid?fbclid=IwAR3RyPgjBgXJXjH8PZfIe-oJpYgY_pj_-BgHzc_X5LIzQR1Im0snnLdywlw

 

It's not inconceivable this incident aboard Viking was a calculated effort on the part of the journalist and Gwenyth Todd to generate media attention.

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Could it be she was thrown off for wearing jeans to the Restaurant?

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5 hours ago, Hanoj said:

It's not inconceivable this incident aboard Viking was a calculated effort.... to generate media attention.

 

That was on my mind as well.

 

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I was on this cruise.  I saw Gwenyth in the atrium , at church, in the restaurants, cafes and on excursions.  She was always smiling and helpful and, after the lectures were suddenly canceled,  I overheard guests pressuring her to fight to give her lectures anyway, which invariably had been well attended.  She told them that she wanted them to enjoy their cruise instead of focusing on her lectures, which she said were not worth becoming upset over.  On multiple occasions after that, I saw her accosted by guests in the cafe and passageways asking her to brief them privately.  On one hot tender ride, I even noticed her passing out cool wipes to hot passengers.  In a truly extraordinary gesture, I saw her give local money to a thirsty aged couple on a Viking tour when they could not access the ATM and had no way to buy a drink.  I don’t know if they ever offered to pay her back because she quickly walked away.  This woman was not seeking publicity though there was substantial support for her giving the lectures and palpable anger among a group of passengers at Viking for cancelling them.  I think Viking behaved dreadfully.  I am sorry she fell ill but I can attest that many passengers would enter the cafe without washing their hands, thus gastric viruses were a real threat.  Viking owes not just Ms Todd but also the passengers who were denied the lectures that Viking had advertised.  As for those who did not like the topics, there were plenty of other activities on the ship and ashore to entertain everyone.  Why the sudden censorship?  Ms. Todd behaved in good faith.  Viking did not. Something is rotten in Viking. 

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Viking responds to guest complaints and sometimes rapidly. Rhine river cruise we had a way below par Alsace winery tour.  Several guests complained to the program director.  We were near him when he fired the guide.  Although we thought the tour was poor at best we had not complained to the Program Director but I am happy he took action.

On another Viking cruise a Prof from Germany lectured us on the EU.  I was sitting with Aussies & Canadians.  We all found the lecture informative.  However at the Q&A several large & vociferous Brits jumped up with loud & hostile questions.  Viking quickly got the prof off at the adjacent lock.
Point being, Viking takes action on guest complaints.  Not a matter of right & wrong.  The woman could have been a terrific person but if somehow she pissed off several vociferous guests, she was destined to be history. Well may be that the guests were too easily offended but Viking is in the business of accommodating.  Maybe they need to vet the speakers and have more plain vanilla topics.

If I didn't like a lecturer I'd maybe write a bad review but I do know I'd just simply not attend their next lecture.  Tastes vary.

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Actually, as a passenger myself, I resent Viking denying me the chance to hear the rest of her lectures. I can forgive Viking for denying me the scheduled visit to Easter Island due to the sea state: that was not Viking’s fault.  But denying me the scheduled lectures at sea is Viking’s fault.  Gwenyth was discharged medically after over a week of trying to calm down angry passengers who were demanding she give her talks anyway, not “fired” because she made trouble.  I don’t think guest speakers get paid anyway, although I could be mistaken.  In her case, perhaps Viking should pay her for making her suffer through this gross mismanagement.  As it turned out, her medical discharge was reported in the article due to contracting a gastric virus on Viking, which strikes me as a case of adding insult to injury.  I suspect she was relieved to be offloaded from the Ship of Fools but I suspect she will be gracious despite it all.

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On the November Cuba cruise, I thought the on board ship commentators were extraordinarily careful to avoid offending American and Cuban-American sympathies about the Revolution. There are multiple, credible points of view about the US and Cuba, the role of the Mafia and its casinos, Big Sugar, etc.

 

Perhaps the clearly expressed views of the Cuban tour guides served as an equal and offsetting viewpoint on the matter.

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1 hour ago, Panglossian321 said:

Actually, as a passenger myself, I resent Viking denying me the chance to hear the rest of her lectures. I can forgive Viking for denying me the scheduled visit to Easter Island due to the sea state: that was not Viking’s fault.  But denying me the scheduled lectures at sea is Viking’s fault.  Gwenyth was discharged medically after over a week of trying to calm down angry passengers who were demanding she give her talks anyway, not “fired” because she made trouble.  I don’t think guest speakers get paid anyway, although I could be mistaken.  In her case, perhaps Viking should pay her for making her suffer through this gross mismanagement.  As it turned out, her medical discharge was reported in the article due to contracting a gastric virus on Viking, which strikes me as a case of adding insult to injury.  I suspect she was relieved to be offloaded from the Ship of Fools but I suspect she will be gracious despite it all.

 

 

If you feel so strongly about this,  you need to take this up with the Cruise Director, not with us. We can't fix the problem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The deed is done and Gwenyth has left.  She was very discreet while aboard and I suspect will seek her privacy.  Time will tell.  In my experience, the Cruise Director takes direction from the company headquarters.  If the cruise director acted without checking with Viking HQ I suspect she may have a problem, given the way this was handled.  All I know is what I witnessed, overheard being said to Gwenyth in public areas of the ship and also my own conversations with my fellow.passengers.  There is no point in arguing about this situation because I am only speaking from my own experience after noticing this comment chain.  As we say in the US, “I have no dog in this fight”, other than being very disturbed by what appeared to be appalling behaviour towards this woman.  Feel free to disagree.

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The differing political views in the US can be very contentious these days. I know I have very strong opinions on these issues, but I avoid conversations in social settings that can easily become arguments. Perhaps, based on passenger feedback, Viking simply realized that they made a mistake in booking this lecturer, and did not wish to have her continue. While apparently there were passengers interested in her point of view, I assume there were others who were opposed. I can understand Viking's wish to avoid such a potentially divisive component to their cruise.

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I just finished reading all the presentations she gave and was going to give using the link provided at the beginning of this thread. I agree that perhaps they were not what I'd call "vacation fare".  They were focused on serious topics that were and remain even now politically charged. They also don't fit contextually or even historically into the geographic locale of the cruise. I can't even speculate why Viking hired her as a lecturer. Still, Viking didn't bring her onboard with their eyes shut. They vetted her presentations beforehand and must have decided it would be interesting to their passengers while also being aware they were taking a risk. We don't know. I would have attended her lectures - all of them. But that's me; I'm weird that way. It's too bad Viking caved into what I'm willing to bet was actually a relatively small but very loud group of passengers. The larger question is what was her rationale for giving these presentations? I think one of the bullets in the very last chart in the 6th presentation - the one she never got to - explains it. 

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Vanguard makes a distinct effort to attract an older, more literate, more engaged cruising clientele. While that means eliminating  easy targets like casinos and water slides, it does present its own challenges.

 

Precisely because they are more engaged, customers are likely to find different points of view worth examining.  And resisting what they consider incorrect presentations.   On our Cuba trip, the former US State Department executive presenting views on Cuba was  challenged by persons who identified themselves as Cuban-American.

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15 hours ago, Panglossian321 said:

 I don’t think guest speakers get paid anyway, although I could be mistaken.  

You are correct, the days of paid (cash) lecturers are long gone, however they receive payment in kind - comp cruise, tours, room & board, etc.

 

As per the terms & conditions you agreed, the lecturers are also subject to changes, at the sole discretion of the cruise line. The cruise director's immediate supervisor is the Hotel Director and ultimately the Captain. In the big scheme of operating a cruise ship, making changes to a lecture schedule is minor and would most likely be made on board the ship.

 

It is most unfortunate that cancelling lectures seems to be causing such a negative reaction on a spectacular World Cruise.

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Posted (edited)

This was a NZ - Australian sector cruise? I’d expect a good number of Australians and NZ’ers onboard and I’m pretty sure that the topics wouldn’t have been of much interest to be honest. And for those, a waste of lecture time.  

Edited by Pushka

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58 minutes ago, Pushka said:

This was a NZ - Australian sector cruise? I’d expect a good number of Australians and NZ’ers onboard and I’m pretty sure that the topics wouldn’t have been of much interest to be honest. And for those, a waste of lecture time.  

 

No, this is the World Cruise coming from South American to Wellington and then proceeding to Australia and the southern tip of Africa to London.

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6 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

 

It is most unfortunate that cancelling lectures seems to be causing such a negative reaction on a spectacular World Cruise.

 

Not much talk of it on the Live WC thread. No mention at all if the search results were accurate. This little backwater is the only place it is being discussed and, with one except, none of us are actually on the cruise.

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3 minutes ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

Not much talk of it on the Live WC thread. No mention at all if the search results were accurate. This little backwater is the only place it is being discussed and, with one except, none of us are actually on the cruise.

I am reading all the Roll Call threads for the current WC and the live WC thread and agree it hasn't been mentioned. To be honest, I'm highly surprised that cancelling a couple of lectures even gets a mention.

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4 minutes ago, Heidi13 said:

I am reading all the Roll Call threads for the current WC and the live WC thread and agree it hasn't been mentioned. To be honest, I'm highly surprised that cancelling a couple of lectures even gets a mention.

 

I think the fact that it hit the media makes this a stand-out; otherwise who would have known, or cared.

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