Are travel writers shills for the cruise lines?NewsBy Dennis Schaal | July 7, 2010Share This article was originally published on Jim Walker, a maritime attorney based in Miami, argues in his blog post, Cruise Crime and the Indifference of Travel Writers, that many travel writers are extensions of cruise line promotional machines because they accept cruise industry advertising and free or discounted sailings.Walker's beef is that he saw scant coverage in the blogs of the recent passage of the Cruise Vessel and Safety Act and the Spill Act, both of which were opposed by the cruise industry.Writing on July 3, Walker states: "These two new laws are truly historic. But you would never know it by reading the hundreds of cruise websites and travel-writer blogs."There are literally thousands of travel agents and travel writers who I follow daily on Twitter. But not one blogger mentioned either one of these new bills."The problem is that many of the travel writers and most of the cruise bloggers are shills for the cruise industry. They sell cruises or advertise cruise banners on their web sites. Many cruise lines invite them on all-expense-paid cruises in exchange for favorable cruise reviews."Walker notes that the Cruise Lines International Association, the industry trade group, lobbied against the adoption of the Spill Act because it would enable the families of foreign workers on cruise ships to recover damages in the U.S. for wrongful deaths."So it should come as no surprise that most travel writers and the CLIA cruise bloggers chose not to touch these stories," Walker writes.Walker says the exceptions to the rule are Pauline Frommer and Arthur Frommer, who have about the cruise line safety act and how it would enhance passenger security.A quick search of the blogs finds some coverage of the new legislation, which was adopted on the eve of the July 4th holiday weekend, but the reportage indeed has not been overwhelming in scope.So, does Walker have a point?Are the "CLIA bloggers" -- who Walker doesn't identify -- and "most travel writers" in bed with the cruise lines?Indeed some are, even if Walker paints with way too broad a brush.Maybe it gets to the difference between journalism and blogging. I've heard too much discussion in recent months about bloggers on press trips rolling over for the companies which paid for their trips.At both the recent Travel Blog Exchange conference in Manhattan and an Orbitz bloggers' summit several months ago, I've heard writers say if they've had a shoddy experience on a press trip, then instead of trashing the property or cruise line, they just won't write anything.That's being, well, a shill -- but there are plenty of travel writers, whether they went on sponsored press trips or not, who won't roll over.