Everyone knows it’s important to reach potential new cruise clients and build relationships. One way to do that is via Twitter, the micro-blogging, social networking approach that involves messages or “tweets” of 140 characters or less. The Twitter questions I’m asked most frequently are: “Who do you follow on the cruise side?” and “Who should I follow?”

It’s best to follow experts within your industry, people with a socially engaging style, those who are relevant and people who add value to your business. “My best advice for others wanting to use Twitter is to get on and start talking,” says travel agency owner Margie Jordan (@MargieTravels) of Jordan Executive Travel Service Jacksonville, FL, who is active on Twitter. She likes to follow @CruiseBuzz and also @CruiseMaven, who tweets “stunning photos that make me dream of going where she’s gone.”

Who do I (@travlsusan) follow? Of my nearly 2,000 followers, here are my personal Top 10 Cruise Tweeps. Incidentally, “tweep” stands for Twitter people. Several of these folks also shared with us whom they like to follow.

1 @CruiseGuy:  Probably the most interviewed cruise expert in America, Stewart Chiron of Miami is a down-to-earth, affable guy with great cruise tweets and inside cruise intel. Chiron has a superior understanding of the cruise industry, its issues and challenges, the lines and their products, and how the whole business is put together. Best yet, he nicely communicates back with fellow tweeps, a nice perk for followers.

His favorite cruise folks to follow? He gave us these: @CruiseLog, for mainstream cruise information; @CruiseCritic, because of its strong connection to passengers and quickness to report reader issues; @CruiseRadio, for his humorous and engaging tweets; @OrlandoChris, for his straightforward approach and good blog; and @CruiseBuzz, who comments on a wide range of issues and is the most engaging on the cruise social media scene.

2 @CruiseCritic:  Operating robust consumer feedback forums, CruiseCritic delivers an engaging mix of hard news, feature articles, cruise roundup stories, ship profiles and reader feedback-related content. This group has experienced full-time staffers dedicated to cruise, making the tweets both timely and insightful. And they pull no punches in telling it like it is. @OrlandoChris sums up, “Carolyn Spencer Brown and the gang at CruiseCritic are simply the single most complete source of cruise information there is.”

3 @CruiseLog: Gene Sloan of USA Today does a bang-up job of overall cruise industry coverage in his tweets. While they reflect his personality, he keeps them focused on journalism rather than opinions. This “must-follow” tweep attends the majority of river vessel and ocean ship launches. And, with nearly 17,000 followers providing tips and insight, expect a steady, timely flow of newsy tweets. Yet, he doesn’t annoy by over-tweeting.

4 @OrlandoChris: A travel blogger living his dream in Orlando, Chris Owen—certified as a master cruise counselor by CLIA—writes about both cruising and travel. With 9,000 followers, he uses a mix of original tweets and re-tweets, and covers everything from weather and new ships to dressing up for a cruise. Whom does Owen follow? His top five are: @CruiseRadio, @CruiseGuy, @CruiseCritic, @CruiseLog and @CruiseDivas.

5 @CruiseBuzz: With more than 10,200 followers, Carrie Finley-Bajak, based on the West Coast, describes herself in her Twitter profile as “where social meets the sea.” She’s a traveler, content creator, fan of luxury travel, and an application developer. She is also the founder and social hostess of #CruiseChat. She’s highly social, and Liberty Travel (@LibertyTravel) cites her as a top person to follow.  

Finley-Bajak herself recommends @AvidCruiser; @TravelDesigned, an agent who is super active on Twitter, and considered “the voice of reason”; @CruiseLineFans; @ShipsandTrips, whom she describes as “very engaging and always there”; and @HotelPRGuy for his tweets relevant to pre- and post-cruise hotel stays.

6 @CruiseRadio: Doug Parker is the on-air host and creator of Cruise Radio, available on iTunes, the Stitcher Radio Network and on demand on its website. He delivers cruising insight and links to stories on his Twitter profile. @OrlandoChris says, “Doug Parker has unique information not found anywhere else due to the podcast-format of his website and keeps right on top of current issues.”

7 @CruiseBart: Bart Grover from Calgary, Alberta, says he surfs the Internet for the best cruise deals and cruise-related websites and passes those on to his Twitter followers. We like his writing style, which is straightforward, yet also quirky with great photos, links and tips. Expect to find everything from a cruise line’s environmental footprint to port woes and from cruise deals to photos of cruise experiences. 

8 @CruiseLineFans: Approaching 6,000 followers, this group is highly engaging. Socialize with them, and they’ll reciprocate, greatly expanding your reach. Whom does this group follow? Considered essential are @CruiseRadio, @CruiseGuy, @Cruise Source, @CruiseFacts, @CruiseLog,  @AvidCruiser and @CruiseIndustry.

9 @buycruises: Jill Love makes breezy Twitter-style appeals, posts a great deal or two daily and adds cruise news and conversation into the mix. She’s a travel and leisure industry consultant with a specialty in cruising, and sells cruises at Her favorites include: @MeetonCruise, @CruiseMaven, @OrlandoChris, @CruiseBart, @CruiseBuzz, @CruiseGuy, @CruiseDivas, @CruiseLineFans, @CruiseRadio and @CareVacations.

10  And, I have a five-way tie for the 10th slot.

  • @CruiseDivas: Agent Renata Grant has a passion for cruising and really understands the social media arena.
  • @avidcruiser: Ralph Grizzle specializes in firsthand, on-scene photos, gleanings and tips.
  • @shipsandtrips: “Christy,” this host agency’s marketing director in Sacramento, CA, shares travel, food, wine and cruising intel.
  • @CruiseSource and @Cruise Deals: Both are affiliated with the same company, one is blog-focused, the other talks deals, respectively.

Also, check for other cruise-focused folks, and follow host agencies, franchise organizations, agency advocacy groups, suppliers, cruise lines and @CruiseFacts, the official Twitter feed of Cruise Lines International Association.

And pick a few people who interest you personally or have a broader scope in travel. My “great to follow” list includes: @earthXplorer, for his upbeat attitude and positive sayings that brighten my day, as well as good travel information; @MickyArison, Carnival Corp’s chairman, a cruise powerhouse player but new to the Twitter game; @RuthanneTerrero, for superb travel tips and gleanings on luxury, hotels, tours, cruising, and travel industry and agency issues; and, for full-bodied destination stories and photos from Indonesia to Antarctica and from Siberia to New England; and @traveldudes, because he is a “citizen of the world,” in his words, and loves quirky, off-beat travel finds.