A message board, also called “forum” or “web board” is a script on a website with a submission form that allows visitors to post messages (aka “threads” or “posts”) on the website for the public to read. The messages are typically sorted within discussion categories, or topics, chosen by the host, or possibly the visitor. These message boards can exist independently or as a feature on a web site. Such is the case for most cruise message boards.
Cruise message boards have increased greatly in popularity over the years. Evidence of this can be seen by visiting just about any cruise news or cruise information web site; chances are the site includes an option for visitors to join discussions or message boards. With a little patience, the average user can find answers or responses to just about any cruise related question or issue on a cruise message board.
Cruise message boards are great for providing users with advice, information on consumer issues and answers to questions, but for some first time cruisers, they may also play an important role in the cruise planning process. Cruise message boards offer users something a typical cruise line web site cannot – unbiased information about cruise ships and cruise lines. So instead of being sold on a cruise by sales or promotions people who are paid to promote the cruise, message board visitors receive information from real people that don’t benefit financially from promoting any given cruise line or ship.
Most active cruise message boards typically require viewers and users to create a membership account. More often than not, membership is free and the sign up process may consist of nothing more than creating a special username and password. However, on many of the higher end web sites, the sign up process may be as elaborate as listing occupation, interests, hobbies, date of birth, a biography, favorite destinations, etc. In most cases, it is recommended that users not use their real name or their email address as a username on any cruise message board.
As long as members abide by certain rules (etiquette) set forth and agreed upon during sign up, they are allowed to post as often as they wish and visit the cruise message board an unlimited number of times. Etiquette is essential when posting, so in general it is expected that members will always use appropriate language, avoid personal insults and derogatory statements and not spam the message board or forum.
There are many different ways to organize a message board, so the categories are divided according the cruise web sites specifications. The following is a good example of a well-organized cruise message board.
The message board or forum may be divided into five folders:
General – ask questions and offer cruise tips
Cruise Ships – ask questions or discuss specific cruise ships
Cruise Lines – ask questions or discuss specific cruise lines
Onboard – meet future friends prior to meeting them on the ship
Commercial Postings – post cruise-related advertising or invite others to your commercial site
In addition to posting and replying privileges, many cruise message board “memberships” offer extras such as: access to a variety of “member only” search features, poll votes and an option that allows posts to be emailed directly to the member inbox, upon request. Some cruise message boards may also allow the user to e-mail posts and threads (a set of messages under one topic) to friends.
If you’re interested in cruise message boards, visit different cruise web sites’ message boards and browse through messages, which are usually displayed without a membership. This will help to determine the quality of the posts/information on any given cruise message board. A great place to start is cruisecrtic.com, which displays plenty of posts for review without a membership. But if you try to post, you will be asked to create an account.