Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Crew Makes the Cruise Line

When Royal Caribbean recently announced that they were increasing the suggested gratuity guidelines, it made me reflect upon my own experiences with the crew aboard the various Royal Caribbean ships I have cruised.  In the fifteen or so cruises I have taken with my family I don’t think I have ever left the suggested gratuity…the Royal Caribbean personnel I’ve encountered have always deserved so much more!

 My family has always felt that the interaction with our dining room wait staff was one of the things we loved most about cruising!  These men and women have always gone above and beyond anything we would expect of them!  Years ago we cruised with another family to Alaska on the Radiance of the Seas.  Although we were cross-referenced for dining, we were surprised to see that we had separate side-by-side tables in the dining room.  When the waiter came over to introduce himself we asked about pushing the tables together. He suggested putting the three children (age 8, 8 and 5) at one table under his care so the adults could dine together.  What an offer!  Our waiter taught them a new napkin fold each night and even insisted on cutting the 5-year old’s meat.  He chatted with them about whales and glaciers and seemed genuinely interested in all they had to say. Our gratefulness was expressed in our gratuity and in our guest satisfaction survey.

 Our waiter and assistant waiter from Splendour of the Seas  European cruise were both from Croatia, a port we were visiting late in the week.  Each evening at dinner they shared stories with us about growing up in their hometowns near Dubrovnik, their family life, culture, and the effect of the war.  They tutored us in phrases in their native Slavic so we could say “good day”, and “thank you” while we were in port. We looked forward to dinner each evening and they certainly made this cruise one we will never forget!

 A good cabin steward is worth his or her weight in gold and I’ve always had good ones.  I once heard someone say, “The best cabin steward is one you never see, yet never have to go looking for.”  I’m impressed when I see my cabin steward in the corridor and he or she warmly greets me by name. On all the ships I’ve been on my cabin has always been kept clean, the ice bucket always filled, and towel animals dutifully made.  That being said, our cabin steward from the Adventure of the Seas took cleanliness to the next level!  Imagine my surprise (and embarrassment) when I returned to the cabin one evening to find that she had cleaned the hair out of my hairbrush! The next morning she threw out my retainer that was wrapped in tissue and left in the bathroom while I went to breakfast!  My fault of course! It looked like garbage and I should have stored it in the case!

 When one of our suitcases failed to make it to our stateroom by sail-away on Oasis of the Seas Caribbean cruise, my husband started to get nervous.  Our cabin steward sent us to the lost luggage room…filled with bags that had no identification, or were set aside because they contained bottles of liquor or irons (prohibited items).  When we reported back to her that the bag was not there she went looking for it, cabin by cabin!  She found it too!  And while I’m sure it would have eventually made its way back to us, her hunt for it got it to us a lot quicker!

 Every cruise I have been on includes at least one memorable encounter with a crewmember.  A cruise line is only as good as its cabin stewards, dining room staff, guest services personnel, kids club counselors, shop workers, etc.  Royal Caribbean has some of the best! You can’t raise the suggested gratuity high enough for these people because in my opinion, they are priceless!"

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