But first things first:
We celebrated our 10th anniversary by highlighting the most important innovations in cruising over the past 10 years, and kicked off the festivities with a series of activities including a scavenger hunt. Spread out over 10 days, the 10-question contest attracted thousands of participants, all eager to find the answers to questions related in some way, shape or form to the concept of innovation in cruising. One example? "Norwegian Cruise Line revolutionized onboard dining by being the first line to introduce 'Freestyle Dining'; which NCL ship was the first to be built with the concept in mind?" With each successful answer, participants received a one-letter clue by finding the corresponding page on our site.
Each day, 10 folks chosen at random were feted with prizes from logo hats to luggage tags. But only one cruise trivia expert could be selected to win the grand prize -- that seven-night cruise. At the conclusion of the scavenger hunt, participants took their collection of letters and were asked to unscramble them to submit a word or phrase. Despite a plethora of truly wacky responses (our favorite false guesses include "vain notion," "vaccination" and "windward"), hundreds did submit the correct word: "innovation." Out of those, one lucky recipient -- RichardL821 -- was selected at random and awarded the grand prize. He and his newlywed LizBeth will set sail on October 15, 2006.
Just as special were a series of activities that enabled members to take a cruise down Cruise Critic's "memory lane." Screen shots of the site's original and over-the-years homepages were posted (want a good laugh? Check it out here). But the many stories and accolades shared on our 10th Anniversary forum truly reminded us why we were celebrating this landmark in the first place.
"CC will always have a very fond place in our hearts because the first communication between my fiance (SNGLDAD310) and I was right here on these boards. We began chatting on a Roll Call thread back in 2004 for a cruise on Carnival's Sensation in November of that year. We met onboard, cruised together all week and by the end of the cruise we found a romance had sparked. The romance has grown into an engagement with a wedding in the spring of 2006. I can not thank you enough Cruise Critic! You've changed my life and brought happiness beyond what I ever thought possible ... first with cruising, certainly one of the biggest loves of my life, something that has broadened my horizons beyond anything I ever imagined ... new countries, the most gorgeous landscapes, sunrises and sunsets ever...new worlds...as well as the man of my dreams to share them with the rest of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!" --tfreem2000
Other members were also overcome by the power of Cruise Critic:
"Although I'm new to CC -- I just wanted to share with you my new experience. I used to talk to co-workers, family members, neighbors, thieves, mimes and your usual cast of characters. Now I'm silent -- my rapt attention being engulfed by the delights of all aspects of cruising and this website. My neurotic, passive, critical, obsessive, compulsive, anxious, impulsive emotional excitement over cruising has been accelerated! With an inordinate amount of time spent exacerbating that which has been subdued for quite some time I am now happy say that my GALEOPHOBIA [Latin: navisaphobia and Greek: fortonophobia] has now been totally cured. Thank you! And yes, for this you deserve my congratulations! On your 10th -- keep sailing! No, um, keep steamin'! No er, ummmm, keep cruisin'!" --nfused2cruze
And others kept it short and sweet:
"Congratulations on making it to 10 years in such a volatile industry such as the Internet." -- hornet*man
October was a hugely memorable month for Cruise Critic in other, non-anniversary ways as well. We achieved a record 17 million page views ... and were presented with the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Award for excellence in travel journalism.
It's been a great ride -- and we look forward to sharing the next decade with you.