About Cruise Critic
Who reads it and how many of them are there?
Cruise Critic is an online cruise guide, offering a comprehensive resource for cruise travellers, from first-time cruisers to avid cruise enthusiasts. We have three million unique visitors per month, globally, and over one million registered members. The site features more than 100,000 cruise reviews and hosts the world's largest online cruise community, where travellers share experiences and opinions with fellow cruisers. Cruise Critic was the first consumer cruise site on the Internet, launched in October 1995 by The Independent Traveler Inc., a subsidiary of TripAdvisor Inc.
What are your responsibilities at the website?
I oversee the editorial for the site in the UK, working closely with the marketing, sales and product teams, as well as acting as the face and spokesperson for Cruise Critic. I attend shows and conferences and moderate or speak at them; attend industry dinners and awards events; do print and broadcast interviews; attend ship launches and inaugural sailings; commission freelancers; write blogs, news, features, etc., interview senior cruise execs; oversee our Facebook and Twitter feeds, and answer questions on the Cruise Critic message boards.
What interests you most about your job?
I love the immediacy of it: you launch a blog, post a question on Facebook or get involved with the message boards – and you receive instant responses. It can be overwhelming – that is, the sheer number of responses – especially compared with print media, but it’s also hugely rewarding. I enjoy working for a website that covers such an exciting and fast-growing industry, and being able to provide an unbiased information source on the many trends and issues affecting cruisers. The cruise sector is niche, yet its popularity amongst consumers is increasing quickly, making it the industry to watch. Recent landmark events, such as Kate Middleton’s link to Royal Princess, generate huge kudos for cruising and not only raise its profile, but also help dispel some of the antiquated assumptions that many associate with cruise.
About Cruise Critic and freelance journalists
Do you pay for contributions from freelance journalists?
Yes. Rates vary depending on the job, but I am always looking for new writers to give me a new angle on cruising and to cover ports as well as ships.
How should freelancers get in touch with pitches, and what kind of features/contributions are useful to Cruise Critic?
Email as it gives me time to peruse the information in my own time, however, I’m certainly not adverse to a phone call to follow it up.
What types of PR agencies do you work with? (Big, small, consumer, tech, independent, in-house…)
I work with PR agencies of all different sizes, as well as many in-house PRs.
Do you tend to work with the same PRs or do you receive contributions from a wide range of sources?
I usually work with the same ones, as they will have the account for a few years and know the industry and what I am after. They can also sense if there’s an urgency or not, which helps!
Of all the press releases you receive on a daily basis, what percentage of them are useful to Cruise Critic?
Impossible question – 20% maybe? The majority of the PRs I work with are familiar with Cruise Critic and the industry, but I still receive a number of press releases covering a wide spectrum of topics – some helpful, some less so. Any cruise/travel related news is great, but I’m generally not interested in the launch of a new fake tan product (yes, I frequently receive announcements about fake tan!).
Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I worked at TTG (Travel Trade Gazette) in various different roles for many years, but latterly covering aviation, business and luxury travel. I launched ttgbusiness, ttgluxury and established TTG Magazines, which included supplements and guides. In 2009 I went freelance and worked for a number of publications, including The Spectator, where I launched and ran its Travel Guides. In 2010 I became editor of Cruise International, and helped launch the Cruise International Awards. I joined Cruise Critic in May last year.
Do you use social media for your work (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)?
Yes – all the time. We have a Facebook page and a Twitter feed which we keep updated several times a day. We use Twitter for news, but not generally for correspondence.
What would be your ideal holiday?
Staying at the Rosewood Mayakoba on the Mayan Riviera and scuba diving every day.