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The following was posted on Monday, March 16, 2009 at 5:53pm ET:

 

What is a Royal Champion?

 

Over the past week there has been heated debate, conjecture, misinformation, and misinterpretation about the Royal Caribbean marketing program called Royal Champions, as a result of how it was portrayed recently on some blogs.

 

Here is an official statement from Royal Caribbean about the program:

Royal Champions are a small group of passionate travel enthusiasts and prolific individuals, who were identified by an independent third party on behalf of Royal Caribbean International, as frequently engaging in online discussions and sharing information about cruising on the internet. With the proliferation of online social networks, blogs and discussion boards on the internet – many of which serve as forums where vacationers visit consistently in search for travel information and advice – Royal Caribbean decided to engage these enthusiasts knowing that they would be a valuable source of information for our current and prospective customers. Thus in early 2007, in keeping with our legacy of innovation, we initiated a program in which the Royal Champions were invited to learn more about our brand, our ships and our amenities.

 

We have provided the Royal Champions with the opportunity to experience our product during pre-inaugural sailings so that they can provide their independent opinions in the online spaces they are participating in. On a few occasions, they also have served as focus groups providing us with valuable feedback on a number of topics. Royal Champions have been invited - along with traditional media, top travel partners, and loyal Crown & Anchor Society members - to preview new ships and programs and share their opinions if, when and how they see fit. They are responsible for their own travel arrangements and expenses, which are not paid by Royal Caribbean. Royal Champions do not receive any compensation for their participation nor do we influence what they share, where they share it, or how they participate in their online discussions.

 

We are gratified by the enthusiasm these Royal Champions have for cruising and our goal is to continue to incorporate their insights to continually improve the Royal Caribbean vacation experience for all of our guests.

 

 

Here is an official statement from Cruise Critic:

 

Royal Caribbean contacted Cruise Critic and asked us to obtain permission from a group of members they gave us, so that they could extend an invitation to Liberty of the Seas pre-inaugural sailings in May, 2007. We agreed to forward the information on to this group of members, and asked for their permission to share their contact information with Royal Caribbean. This is Cruise Critic's sole involvement in this program. We did not help develop the program, nor did we help choose the participants. At the time of the request there was no formal name associated with this group or program; we were merely asked to forward an invitation to an event on behalf of Royal Caribbean. We received a second, similar request, in October, 2008.

 

We have absolutely no reason to believe that any Royal Champion has done anything other than express his or her own candid opinion about Royal Caribbean’s products. They share both positive and negative opinions and give helpful advice and information. They did this before they became a Royal Champion and they continued to do so after. As a result, Cruise Critic welcomes them along with any other member who wants to share his or her opinions about Royal Caribbean in this forum.

 

Some have requested that Cruise Critic have a formal policy requiring Royal Champions to identify themselves as such. While we can suggest that members disclose their affiliations, it’s unrealistic for us to require it and impossible to enforce. We are operating an anonymous online community and there’s no way for us to verify that anyone is or isn’t who they say they are. As a result it will continue to be a policy that we will not require Royal Champions or any member of any other group to identify themselves.

 

At this time, we have decided that it is not in Cruise Critic’s best interest going forward to contact members on behalf of Royal Caribbean or any other cruise line.

 

For more information about the Royal Champions program, see Cruise Critic’s Q&A with Bill Hayden, Royal Caribbean’s Associate Vice President of Marketing:

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=18545037&postcount=287

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So What Is The Truth?

 

What's this 'Royal Mess' that many travel sites are talking about? Well the recent articles on the Royal Champions our so far from the truth i don't even no where to start from. When i received the invite to become a Royal Champion a few months ago i gladly replied with my personal information like they asked. That was the last i heard about the program for months till about a few weeks ago when i got another email asking for my personal information again. No where has Royal Caribbean told me (us) to only post positive items about them. No where have they told me (us) to try and sell you guys a cruise. No where did they say posting negative about them will result in no being able to be a RC. Ohhhh and the best part the free cruise myth! Have i or any other RC received payment and or a free cruise with paying passengers aboard NO! What have i received from RCCL so far well 2 emails asking for my personal info. Other RC were invited to sail on pre-inaugurals for RCCL's new ships but every cruise line does that when the release new ships. I (we) have NOT changed the way we have posted since being invited to become a Royal Champion. Take for example many RC dislike for Royal Caribbean's new ad campaign or for me who is disappointed with RCCL for no longer handing out chocolates at night. We counitue to post whats on our minds both positive or negative Royal Champion or not. If you dont believe me look back at our post history. Some members of the RC have been member of Cruise Critic since it was founded. Way before RCCL created this program. They have been posting the same ever since. You may ask what does being a Royal Champion mean well i really couldnt tell you that. Not because its a secret but well because i really don't know. Maybe RCCL does have some computer system to monitor our posts. NOT to see if were posting positive or negative about them but to get our honest thoughts on different stories about RCCL. Like for example the "Nation Of Why Not". I and the other Royal Champion's post on Cruise Critic not because were told to and receive pay like the article says but because we have a love for cruising and Royal Caribbean. This in fact is the truth not the article written on other Travel Websites.

 

Chris

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Hi everyone. I'm not sure what that article on Royal Champions is all about. It's the first I've seen of it. I don't have any details. But I'm trying to find out.

 

The first few threads about this were removed because the articles were posted word for word and that's not allowed. Then members started posting about Cruise Critic management saying we were censoring, etc. when really, it was a copyright issue. Then those threads were removed and it snowballed.

 

I'm trying to get some details on this but it's 8:30 at night and there's not much I can do. So let's everyone take a breath and not assume you know everything until more details emerge.

 

Thank you.

 

Send any questions to boards@cruisecritic.com. Don't post questions about board management on the message board.

 

Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time out to try and find the truth! :D

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Sure, the truth is the original Royal Champions were picked out from this bulletin board (and others we are told) because they were considered Royal Caribbean cheerleaders. And they freely admitted that in those days. They were given an invite to the May 14-16, 2007 pre-inaugural cruise on Liberty where they were told about their new status. They were Cheerleaders before becoming a RC'er and are Cheerleaders after they became RC'er. For the majority of them, I have respected many of their opinions and then some not so much. But after reading post around here, after a while you get to know who the genuinely honest RC'ers are.

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Thank you Cecilia..........I think we are all tired of trying to defend ourselves, Cruise Critic and Royal Caribbean.

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Sure, the truth is the original Royal Champions were picked out from this bulletin board (and others we are told) because they were considered Royal Caribbean cheerleaders. And they freely admitted that in those days. They were given an invite to the May 14-16, 2007 pre-inaugural cruise on Liberty where they were told about their new status. They were Cheerleaders before becoming a RC'er and are Cheerleaders after they became RC'er. For the majority of them, I have respected many of their opinions and then some not so much. But after reading post around here, after a while you get to know who the genuinely honest RC'ers are.
Ya know, message boards are a funny thing. For some reason we tend to believe anything someone says just because we see it on a screen. But after a while you do start to see who knows what they're talking about and who's got an agenda. That's something I learned as a board member 8 years ago and during the years I was a host. I don't know all the facts behind this issue but I've gone with my gut for years in who to trust on this site and it's served me well.

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Thank you Cecilia..........I think we are all tired of trying to defend ourselves, Cruise Critic and Royal Caribbean.

 

I agree with Patti. Many thanks from me also.

Sincerely,

Alexis

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Why delete the thread instead of locking it? :confused:

 

It would have prevented lots more threads starting...

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Why delete the thread instead of locking it? :confused:

 

It would have prevented lots more threads starting...

We have to remove threads with copyright violations. No exceptions. But no one wrote to ask what was happening.

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I am rather confused by the entire subject. But can't you remove a post rather than the entire thread? I know I can do that on the forum I administer. I am new here but it seems odd when all the threads regarding a controversial subject are gone. I think the RCs said some important things in those threads as did others who were not RCs. It certainly helped me to understand what was going on.

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Personally, I think most of the vitriol toward the Royal Champions would be quashed if there were to be a sticky placed at the top of this forum, explaining precisely what/who these folks are and how they are "compensated" (if at all) for their commentary. Easy. I had no idea what a "Royal Champion" was until yesterday, and I probably wouldn't have given it much thought if I were to have seen the title in a poster's signature. Now I know.

 

It's one thing to read a review of a particular line or ship knowing full well that it was authored by a paid Cruise Critic staffer, and something entirely different when "member reviews" are potentially seeded with ones written by shills for that particular cruise line. When anyone - like me - who might be looking for unbiased, critical commentary believes there may be corporate influence involved in their words, the member reviews suddenly lose so much value.

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A couple of things-first I'm new here but not new to cruising. I'm also not new to the internet. I work for a small, private company that manages 20+ resort properties in the US, Canada and Mexico. We LIVE and DIE by the reviews that are left by past guests on sites like TripAdvisor. We respond to any and EVERY complaint that is posted publicly and make the situation right-also publicly. Not every situation has a resolution-but at least a good faith effort is made. We want our guests to trust us.

 

What we believe in is transparency. Good or bad-right or wrong, it is out there for the world to see and for potential customers to make their own decisions.

 

Sadly what APPEARS to be going on is that RCI is using basic psychology to get a group of people to champion them and their product. Nothing new with this approach at all. It's only deceitful when there is no disclosure. I think the suggestion in one of the deleted threads about posting a Sticky and requiring disclosure is a good one. If there is nothing wrong-then get it out there in the open.

 

I will still read every post of a subject matter that interests me, and if someone posts something that I need clarification on-I'll ask them for it. Simple. I'll compare the information I get here with that of other sites and then make my own decisions. If someone here gets overly excited and I feel they have violated the TOS-I'll report them.

 

The lessons of Web 2.0 are tough for companies to handle. But they need to realize that there are a LOT more people posting the truth (good and bad) at a lot more sites than the few that are engaged to try to stifle it as it APPEARS was going on.

 

In this situation I don't begrudge the RCs at all. But it seems that RCI has dropped the ball on what the mission for RCs should be and by keeping mum about the mission is just creating a lot of ill press. RCI should step up, speak up, and either end the program or publicly define and promote it. The cat is out of the bag now-trying to get it back in is impossible.

 

Cheers!

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Personally, I think most of the vitriol toward the Royal Champions would be quashed if there were to be a sticky placed at the top of this forum, explaining precisely what/who these folks are and how they are "compensated" (if at all) for their commentary. Easy. I had no idea what a "Royal Champion" was until yesterday, and I probably wouldn't have given it much thought if I were to have seen the title in a poster's signature. Now I know.

 

It's one thing to read a review of a particular line or ship knowing full well that it was authored by a paid Cruise Critic staffer, and something entirely different when "member reviews" are potentially seeded with ones written by shills for that particular cruise line. When anyone - like me - who might be looking for unbiased, critical commentary believes there may be corporate influence involved in their words, the member reviews suddenly lose so much value.

 

 

exactly...a locked stickie with the criteria, compensation (for lack of a better term) and a list of Royal Champions.....that can be updated by the admins as needed.....full disclosure is what would make everyone happy, in my opinion......thanks

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I agree with Patti. Many thanks from me also.

Sincerely,

Alexis

 

Me, three! I haven't change a thing in my posting since becoming an RC. I thought they chose me because I've been with them since dirt was young, AND because I was honest about what I saw, etc., on board their ships!! :D

 

I am not a cheerleader by any means, and I give just as much advice about how to COMPLAIN and SOLVE PROBLEMS as I do about how great the cruise line is!!

 

Thanks for helping us with this rather sticky issue.

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Me, three! I haven't change a thing in my posting since becoming an RC. I thought they chose me because I've been with them since dirt was young, AND because I was honest about what I saw, etc., on board their ships!! :D

 

I am not a cheerleader by any means, and I give just as much advice about how to COMPLAIN and SOLVE PROBLEMS as I do about how great the cruise line is!!

 

Thanks for helping us with this rather sticky issue.

Peggy, I can agree with that. I do believe that originally most of posters picked to be Royal Champions were pick from this board because of the candor of their opinion. But the reason CC pick you and the others had nothing directly to do with the amount of cruises you've or any of them have been on... it had to do with your actions on this board. Plain & simple.

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exactly...a locked stickie with the criteria, compensation (for lack of a better term) and a list of Royal Champions.....that can be updated by the admins as needed.....full disclosure is what would make everyone happy, in my opinion......thanks
To be honest, I have no idea if the information in the article is true or made up. Since I don't know for sure, I'm not so quick to assume anything deceitful. From what I've seen this evening, half the people here believe everything they read and the other half have actual experience being a Royal Champion and they're denying the accusations. Why is it so easy to believe the negative and deny the positive? Hmmm...a discussion for another time perhaps...

 

Anyway...I look forward to learning more about this issue.

 

(By the way, I'm a diamond cruiser with RCI and I work for Cruise Critic. Shouldn't that qualify me for RC? :-) I'm kidding.)

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I think that the outcry is that there is information out there, true or otherwise and we're not allowed to share it here, or debate it. Other threads go on and on and on... but this topic is being squashed by CC before it even gets started. Why the hush, hush? Given enough leway, if it's false someone will come up with support for that. If it's true than it warrants discussion. Either way it's a topic that cruisers find pertinent. So let us discuss it and CC can moderate the discussion. The way it stands makes it seem like "something's going on" and CC is in colusion. We tend to feel like this thread is "home" and "for us". Doesn't feel that way if we only get to discuss what someone else wants us to even if it matters to the cruising community that is represented here.

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I think that the outcry is that there is information out there, true or otherwise and we're not allowed to share it here, or debate it. Other threads go on and on and on... but this topic is being squashed by CC before it even gets started. Why the hush, hush? Given enough leway, if it's false someone will come up with support for that. If it's true than it warrants discussion. Either way it's a topic that cruisers find pertinent. So let us discuss it and CC can moderate the discussion. The way it stands makes it seem like "something's going on" and CC is in colusion. We tend to feel like this thread is "home" and "for us". Doesn't feel that way if we only get to discuss what someone else wants us to even if it matters to the cruising community that is represented here.
You're mistaken. As I said at the beginning of this thread, the original threads were removed because they were copyrighted articles printed word for word on this site. That's not allowed. After those threads were removed, the thread started about how we were dishonest, covering things up, etc. and discussions about board moderation are not allowed on the message board. If you have a question about how the board is moderated, write to boards@cruisecritic.com. Then we removed the discussions about board moderation and suddenly everyone is saying that we're doing something sneaky.

 

If members want to discuss something to do with Royal Caribbean, they can, as you always do, but you have to follow the board guidelines. No copyrighted material, no discussion of board moderation because you're unhappy about something being removed, no namecalling to other members who are Royal Champions, and overall internet ettiquette is called for. And if you can swing it, try and be open to the fact that an internet article might not be gospel. I don't know the details but I'm willing to see how it shakes out.

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no namecalling to other members who are Royal Champions.

 

How about no name calling to other members period

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How about no name calling to other members period

 

He beat me to the punch...I agree I thought the rules were no namecalling regardless of RC status. Besides no name calling is just how we should all behave anyhow, but then again a discussion on appropriate behavior in public these days can be a touchy subject.

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Just for future reference, quoting snippets/exerpts of an article - copyrighted or not - and providing a direct link to the full piece is still okay, yes? "Fair Use" and all.

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=Bruins14;18528388]How about no name calling to other members period

 

He beat me to the punch...I agree I thought the rules were no name calling regardless of RC status. Besides no name calling is just how we should all behave anyhow, but then again a discussion on appropriate behavior in public these days can be a touchy subject.

 

Cecilia is a Community Assistant. Cecilia has always been a very fair and straight forward person on CC.

Not for one minute would she forget that we are all supposed to remember the no name calling.

I believe it was a honest mistake on her part to leave out "and all members."

She is too smart a lady to ever favor one from another.

At least give her the benefit of the doubt and don't go picking on her too. ;)

 

It has been a trying few days on here for a lot of people. Personally some of the names we Royal Champions have been called by many past CC friends is very hurtful.

Shills, Rabid posters, liars, taking money and gifts, free 7 day cruises, RCCL employees and etc. All Lies.

And yes, tempers have flared as we try to defend ourselves against a bunch of people, some who are brand new to these boards, who are set on turning others against us for an article written by who?

Ask them why? Maybe they are paid employees from some company who hired them. ;)

Think about that!

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You are a semi critic on here of we Royal Champions.

I wonder if you would be kind enough to answer my question?

 

How did you get an invite to the next pre-inaugural on the Oasis? Who or what is your connection to RCCL?

Isn't that considered a gift too?

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I guess I didn't read all the threads because I didn't see anyone call anyone anything nasty but then I tend to skip over nastiness. It is the perception that people who are given incentives, whether money, products, privilege, or otherwise cannot be completely unbiased that appears to be hurting those who are RCs. While it may be true that none of the RCs who post here are influenced by the incentives, it is human nature to be suspicious of those who are part of a "viral marketing plan" created by a company, as described by the company representative.

 

PLEASE do not take this personally. It has nothing to do with you as a person and is a mistake made by RCCL. Full disclosure should have been made in a way that all of us would know the purpose of the Royal Champions. I honestly believe that had this been done, this would not be a problem. We would come to love and trust each of the people involved based on their past and future posts.

 

I am frustrated because I see hurt feelings and I think that is sad. The blame is on RCCL for using people..not just the RCs who probably don't feel used, but the rest of us who come here and read the posts, especially those of us who came recently and are ignorant of the terminology. We just feel a little naive and a little foolish...that is all. :)

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I guess I didn't read all the threads because I didn't see anyone call anyone anything nasty but then I tend to skip over nastiness. It is the perception that people who are given incentives, whether money, products, privilege, or otherwise cannot be completely unbiased that appears to be hurting those who are RCs. While it may be true that none of the RCs who post here are influenced by the incentives, it is human nature to be suspicious of those who are part of a "viral marketing plan" created by a company, as described by the company representative.

 

PLEASE do not take this personally. It has nothing to do with you as a person and is a mistake made by RCCL. Full disclosure should have been made in a way that all of us would know the purpose of the Royal Champions. I honestly believe that had this been done, this would not be a problem. We would come to love and trust each of the people involved based on their past and future posts.

 

I am frustrated because I see hurt feelings and I think that is sad. The blame is on RCCL for using people..not just the RCs who probably don't feel used, but the rest of us who come here and read the posts, especially those of us who came recently and are ignorant of the terminology. We just feel a little naive and a little foolish...that is all. :)

 

I will say this one time.

September of 2008 I was asked to be a Royal Champion. That was it, no explanation except my name was selected with others.

Months later there was rumor we would "maybe" be chosen to do surveys, different things like that.

Some people went to NY for a movie/showing of the Oasis. I was happy it was not me as I could not afford that trip. :D

I was invited to the Liberty pre-inaugural in 2007 and I had to turn it down as I was moving. The gentleman who called me told me he would remember my name for the future.

I thought that was why I got this invite on the Mariner in February.

This article is as much of a surprise to me as it was to you. And, I do not believe I am the only RC person who feels like that.

And personally I don't care anymore who believes what.

I was brought up to be honest and I have always lived my live that way.

And now I am finished with this topic it is late.

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