Man Ejected From Cruise For Criticizing Art Auctions

Just ran across a story about a teacher who got thrown off a Royal Caribbean cruise ship for distributing a flier that questioned the value of art being auctioned on board.

This happened more than a week ago, which will show you how alert I’ve been lately. (I blame the rain; I’m always mowing.) The flier is posted on the Fine Art Registry site, which has been in a long and bitter dispute with the auction company, Park West Galleries.

This is just the latest in a controversy that leaves me wondering whether the cruise lines are making enough money on this to make it worth the damage to their reputations.

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2 thoughts on “Man Ejected From Cruise For Criticizing Art Auctions

  1. Jim Walker

    Jeanne:

    Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean are desperate for onboard revenue. Royal Caribbean collects a bit over $5,000,000,000 (billion) a year from passengers. Only $4,000,000,000 or so comes from ticket sales. The other $1,000,000,000 or so must come from what the cruise line calls “onboard purchases.” This includes selling alcohol, shore excursions, spa treatments, gift shop items, gambling and art sales.

    These sales make or break the company’s fiscal year. Royal Caribbean just lost $30,000,000 last quarter. There is big-time pressure from the cruise line’s offices in Miami to push the sales on the passengers.

    Bogus art? Yes, we have been contacted by many passengers who have allege that they have been swindled by the art auctioneers. The cruise lines are connected at the hip pocket with the con artists. They will gladly throw a complaining passenger off of the ship to protect their business interests.

    Jim Walker

    Reply
    1. Jeanne Leblanc Post author

      I had a look at the most recent 10-Q for Royal Caribbean and I see what you mean. Looks as if concession income was off about 11 percent. It’s not clear to me how much of that concession income is from the art auctions. (I’d think the retail operations and Steiner spas would bring in more, but who knows?)

      I’m remembering that a while back, Park West lifted its strict no-refund policy. It now has a 60-day refund period, though I understand that it exempts some fairly hefty fees. I figured the cruise lines might have pushed for that change, to placate angry buyers.

      So does it make sense to kick up more bad publicity by throwing a passenger off the ship for criticizing the auctions? It’s pretty bad publicity, I’m thinking, that might cost more in the long run than the criticism would have cost them in the short run.

      Reply

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