Ugh. I hate this. I hate dedicating time to people like this, it’s important to talk about but I still hate it. There’s a controversy swirling around our community right now and it’s a cancer. It’s community destroying and I can’t believe that it has happened. I’m still kind of in awe that we’re here as a community. I can’t believe the narrow-minded selfish acts of others. I can’t believe the short sided behavior or the lack of remorse. I can’t believe the lack of moral compass or the blatant decision to perform such scams in broad view of the entire internet. Flagrant. Arrogant. Gross.
Let me start this by saying I had zero intent of discussing this publicly. I love and adore every single fan of ours and the question comes up too often to ignore. A few ground rules, I don’t provide platforms or opportunities to criminals. I will not say the channel name or the name of the people behind the channel in question. You know who I’m talking about, if you don’t it’s time to phone a friend. I won’t give these people a single click, a solitary view. If you want to see for yourself, you can find them and do your own research. By vilifying these fools and subsequently linking to them, we give them credence, traffic and ultimately money. I refuse. There is no such thing as bad publicity, they are actually profiting from this controversy. While this may ultimately destroy them long term, short term they are benefiting from the hundreds of discussions. A view is a view. It doesn’t matter if you dislike it. They get paid for traffic, yo. OK back to it. I truly hate this. This makes me physically ill.
Alarm Bells are Ringing, Winston.
I weep for these people. This crushes my heart. I never understood the allure of the channel in question. I’ve only seen a handful of their vlogs and I’ve never been able to finish a single episode. Not because of the nature of their storytelling, I believe everyone has a story and should be able to tell it however they see fit, but because of the overwhelming alarm bells that go off every time I witness their content. As a former victim of physical and emotional abuse, this channel causes me an insane amount of grief. I suffer from PTSD just watching it. It’s glaringly obvious that there is physical and emotional abuse in this group. It’s so overwhelming that I have to get up and leave when I watch their videos. I don’t want anyone to suffer like I have and all I see is abuse in this channel. So for me personally, I don’t understand how anyone would follow them let alone give them money. Yet here we are. (PLEASE If you’re a victim of abuse, know there is life after the trauma.)
What’s My Motivation?
Know that funny old Hollywood line? Well it applies here in a major way. Everyone, 100% of all people on YouTube, has a reason for doing it. YouTube is a grind. It’s a very difficult world. You don’t just casually YouTube. It’s a lot of work to get people to 1) see you and 2) follow you. As a viewer you should know this. Why do your favorite vloggers do what they do? Maybe fame? Maybe money? Maybe they want to help people? Maybe they want to share love or hate? Even if they don’t openly share what their motivations are, you can tell by the thoughts and acts they put out there for you to consume.
Stefanie and I have always been up front about who we are, what we do and how we do it. You can start with our Mission Statement which is at the top of our blog and in every description of our videos. To sum up our mission: Stefanie and I have been through terrible things individually and as a couple. Instead of being victims and spreading negativity we decided to actively change our stars and put as much light and joy into the world as we can. We don’t want to watch the world burn. Still want to know more about us? Well, if you can handle it emotionally – just preparing you, you can see our daily vlogs and how our channel started originally. You can also see our article on how we pay for our journeys here. Stef and I run our own business and we self finance 99% of everything you see here and on our channel. We work 100+ hour weeks because we believe in this thing and want to give it every opportunity to succeed that we can. We do have sponsors, people who have donated to us and a Patreon page and we’re eternally grateful to everyone for their kindness, generosity and for believing in us. We take that very seriously. These donations currently cover less than 1% of our current production budget, so we’re not at a point where we’re “raking it in” as they say. We openly discuss the money that our channel generates and even celebrated our first viewer funded cruise. Want to know more about Stef and I personally? Check out our post about who we are here, aptly called This is Us. We have no problems or issues showing you who we are, what we do or how we do it. Want to know what we deal with on our journeys? We have no problems sharing that either. If you’re following someone online who is all about secrecy or is constantly begging for money, perhaps find a new channel to enjoy or realize they may not be the people that you think they are.
This is a Relationship. Treat it as Such.
We’re 100% open about our lives for two reasons. First, if you’ve gone through any of the things we have, we’re here for you. You’re not alone. Second we understand that you’re investing your time in us and we believe it’s only fair that you know who you’re watching and why. There is a bond between content creators and fans. We take that very seriously. Would you start a friendship with someone who was always acting shady or asking you for money every day? Probably not.
OK We’re Here, Now What?
From what I’m reading online the youtube channel in question collected money from fans and group cruisers in such a way that there would be little to no chance of obtaining a refund. Then, of course, the product or service that was paid for never materializes. There is also talk of people booking cruises through this channel and subsequently getting screwed out of deposits or entire trips. I’m reading accounts of anywhere from 60 – 100 people being scammed out of their money. Caveat Emptor my friends. This is FRAUD. Anytime someone asks you for money but has very strict methods of how you pay them should send up a red freaking flare. Seriously. PROTECT YOURSELF. We see nonsense like this in every country we visit, even here domestically. People see tourists as fresh meat and will attempt to scam you any way they can. Pause for a moment and trust your gut instincts. If someone demands you pay them via PayPal’s Friends and Family option, STOP. Are you a friend? Are you family? Have you read the PayPal guidelines on this? This scenario offers you about as much protection as you throwing your wallet overboard and expecting to get a refund. You ain’t gettin it back and now the Kraken has your ID.
Again, I have to ask why. Why would you support people who walk around spewing negativity and don’t provide any actual substance? I don’t get a feel of the ship or a general vibe of what the cruise is going to be like. They don’t do ship tours or offer any kind of factual information. I honestly don’t see why you’d hitch your wagon to this particular star. But for those that have and have been burned by it financially or emotionally, you’re not alone. There are people in the world who are opportunists and will stop at nothing to provide for themselves. That’s just the sad nature of some people. The reality is anyone can make a website or YouTube channel. It’s up to you to ask questions, to challenge what’s in front of you and to ultimately decide how you spend your time and money. If there really are 60+ people who have been stolen from, my humble advice is to collectively approach an attorney and get your money back.
And the Pendulum Swings
As in all aspects of humanity, when faced with a morally disgusting situation, we collectively swing the other way and now all YouTubers are being attacked. We have had MANY comments in the last 48 hours warning all viewers to avoid anyone with a Patreon page. That we’re all scammers. Woah. Way to swing out to extremes. First off, we don’t ask you for money. We have a page, if you want to support it, awesome. Either way you get to see our content.
Most creators aren’t wealthy. Stef and I do not have a trust fund. We’re the trust fund. We work to make this dream a reality and we’re not alone. Patreon offers a way for viewers to help support the content creators. This is no different than how public television works. It’s sad there is a backlash on what’s been dubbed as ‘E-Begging.’ If you like a content creator and want to help, watching and sharing is key. Tossing a few bucks their way is helpful too.
TRUTH TIME: Every single cruise vlogger on YouTube, including us, would love nothing more than to do this full time. Don’t get it twisted, it’s a ton of frigging work but it’s work we love. It’s our passion. That being said, we and 99% of the other people out there aren’t willing to compromise our morals or beliefs for money. It’s absurd. It’s our goal to be full time Travel Filmmakers. That comes with hard work and earning your trust. It doesn’t mean we’re gonna ask you to hit us up with that shady friends and family action. Be smart. Ask questions. If you’re concerned, ask others or just don’t do it.
I’m DONE. If what is being said is true, I’m done talking about these terrible people. These fools deserve no more of my time. I need to prep for our next trip. Stefanie and I are just two people trying to change our stars. Nothing more. We truly love and adore each and every one of you, we are saddened by this hit to our community. I encourage us all to be more open with each other and help protect our beautiful family of cruisers.
Nothing but love for you and my fellow content creators.
Sean Mullen is a Travel Filmmaker, Vlogger, VFX Artist, Brand Ambassador and the CEO & Lead Designer of Rampant Design, Inc. He is a 3 Time Emmy Award Winner and former Walt Disney World Monorail Pilot. Sean is married to the AMAZING Stef IRL.