There's an interesting new cruise portal being launched this week.
Inside Cruise is the brainchild of Ideal Holidays (aka Ideal Cruising) part of the Freedom Travel Group.
The site is a social networking site where cruisers, be they expert enthusiasts or first-timers can communicate through forums, reviews and instant messaging and I think it is a brilliant move on their part. It not only recognises the significance of 'next generation' Web 2.0 social media sites. but also the huge community of cruise lovers who are desperate to talk about their favourite thing - cruising.
Don't take my word for it. Just look at the volume of traffic on the well-established U.S. cruise forum site Cruise@ddicts (20,000+ registered users) or the astonishing runaway success of John Heald's daily blog from his ship Carnival Freedom. And there are other competitors too, like the wonderfully named, Ship Happens (forum, news & reviews), the excellent (and independent) CruiseMates, and Cruise Critic.
It's clear that for many cruisers, the space between one cruise holiday and the next is only to be filled up with blissful chat about the last and bliss planning & anticipation of the next. So I'm sure this site will be a success for them, and they'll make pots of money from advertising on the site itself and, their primary interest, selling cruise holidays.
My only gripe is with their own content.
The current stock of commercial videos and images they used to seed the site will soon get replaced with more worthy material from their users... so, no problem there. But their articles are pretty bland. They look exactly what they are - words strung together to make content for search engines to read. These are the sort of commercial articles you could probably buy in bulk from an office supply company or somewhere!
And their podcast clips are appallingly aweful! Now I do have to declare an interest in podcasting, but these are a definitive example of how not to do it. They are SO bad it gives podcasting a bad name.