I am always impressed with the energy and attention to details that the staff and crew at Celebrity cruises put into the job performance. We always try to acknowledge their professionalism with a smile, polite conversation, and the common courtesy of a please and thank you. We have always tipped the recommended amount, sometimes more. When service issues arise, as they will at any business, as long as they are resolved in a prompt and courteous manner, I am pleased. Cruise ships crew member have a very demanding job. They are away from their homes and families for months at a time, work long days with very little time off, and must always maintain a professional and friendly attitude.
I may be too easy to please, but I think there there may be some people on a cruise, that no matter how high the service and quality, it will never please them. The most glaring example happened when we were at the complimentary Captain’s Club Elite cocktail hour. We enjoyed this event nearly every night as opportunity to enjoy some free drinks and a few tasty appetizers before dinner. They had several waiters who would bring us our drinks and other waiters who would walk around offering us appetizers. There was one particularly nice girl who went out of her way to bring me a salmon appetizer when I told her I couldn’t have the meatball on a lenten Friday. She knew I had enjoyed other meat dishes all week, so she was perplexed when I told her I couldn’t have the meatballs that day. The fact that she asked why and then made a special trip to the kitchen to find something I could enjoy, impressed me. On the last night of the cruise, another couple yelled at this young woman and barged out. She was coming out of the kitchen area with her plate of food, but did not yet have the little napkins on which to serve the appetizers. The man called her over and very politely she said “I just need to get some napkins for you and I’ll be right over.” That is when his wife stood up and walked out fuming and the man started fussing at the poor girl. It made me so upset that I went and talked to her managers, to let them know that she had done nothing wrong. I don’t know if it helped, because the she was afraid that she was going to be sent home. She had been working at the cocktail party for two weeks and had made many extra efforts for us. She was very hard working, and it broke my heart to see her treated that way. Really, that lady couldn’t wait three seconds for the young woman to get her a napkin?
The second encounter I had was with a fellow passenger at future cruise sales. We were just engaged in polite conversation when he told me that Celebrity wasn’t quite measuring up to his expectations. He had a couple of issues which I had not encountered regarding his not being seated at his reservation time in one of the specialty dining venues, but his other complaint was, quite frankly, something that I had encountered also, and it hadn’t even bothered me. Celebrity had been having some computer related issues all week, and it had affected us both in the same way. We were having internet connectivity issues and functionality issues with our Seapass cards. While I could see that the internet issues would be a big deal to someone who was fully expecting to be able to handle remote business related issues from their lap-top, the Seapass issues were really minor. We both had the same problem with our teens being able to charge on their Seapass card. We had both filled out a form granting permission for our kids to charge on their Seapass cards. The second day of the the second of the back to back cruises, my daughter went to the Cafe Il Bacio for some coffee, and her Seapass was not working. The Celebrity employee at he cafe handled it very professionally, serving my daughter what she ordered, and then telling her to just come back and pay after she gets her card straightened out. It took just a few minutes at the guest relations desk, and they had are card working again. The man I was talking to had the same exact problem, but it was a much bigger deal to him. We also had a minor issue with my Mother-in-law’s Seapass card not opening the door to the state room. Again this was a minor issue, in that we just had to go the service desk for a few minutes and get new cards for all of us. The issue was handled courteously and graciously, and with apologies for the computer problem. For the gentlemen I talked with in the future cruise reservation line, I guess it was not enough to prevent him from booking again, (he was waiting there to complete his reservation), but enough to have some verbal complaints about it.
I had so many moments where the service was exceptional. I had the Sommelier help me with a wine selection from the enigmatic machine for a glass of wine to take to dinner. He had been helping me all week, and we went over to the machine and selected my glass of wine for me to bring to dinner. About 5 minutes later he came into the dining room with another glass of wine. He had tasted the wine he has served me, and felt that possibly some air had gotten into the bottle and was not happy with the quality, so he brought another glass of wine to replace it. I probably wouldn’t have noticed the problem but he wanted to make sure that I would not be disappointed. I also enjoy dessert wines while on a cruise. The wine list had a Hungarian Tokaji on it and I requested it the second night of our first week. The sommelier was unable to locate a bottle, and brought a sauternes, which I found to be an acceptable substitute. However, she did not give up there, she looked all week for the wine and during the second cruise, our new sommelier came to our table an announced that the previous sommelier had found a bottle of the wine. Since it was early in the week, she suggested that I purchase the whole bottle and I could have a glass with dessert each night. A very happy resolution to my slight initial disappointment.
There were so many wonderful occasions where we had amazing service during our two weeks on Silhouette, but perhaps the best example is out waiter during week two. I’ve mentioned him in my previous articles about the cruise. He was friendly, accurate, and prompt, but he did it all with a happy flair. We had sailed with him before about 4 years ago when he was an assistant waiter a few stations over from us. He was assigned during the day to hand out the hand sanitzer squirts in the buffet area. He had amazed us in that he knew out names by the second day of the cruise, and he wasn’t even assigned to our station. Four years later he is now a full waiter serving the larger top tables in the main dining room. My kids said “hello” to him, and to our amazement the first thing he said was “Solstice, 4 years ago!”. We had to move to a larger table the second week of the cruise, because my Mother-in-Law joined us, so we requested Huzaini as our waiter. He was so friendly, and kind, and enthusiastic, he made the entire experience even more enjoyable for us. The food was fantastic, but he pacing was exact on as he brought out multiple courses to our table of 5 and the others around us. He was also in the buffet area offering assistance at breakfast and lunch. I don’t know how he does it, but I made sure to complete a positive comment card and make a positive mention to all his supervisors what a fantastic employee he is.
I have had very few service issues in my 10+ years of cruising Celebrity but my advise to cruisers who have issues is to direct the issue at a policy, rather than an individual. Most of the service issues we have experienced were usually related to a staffing policy, rather than an individual staff member. I’ve mentioned this several times on this blog but two service issues we had were an over extended sommelier who was obviously assigned too many tables to be able to service them in a timely manner, and the second was during a brief period when Celebrity thought the dining waiters could handle all cocktail orders and food orders in a timely manner, but it actually created huge delays in dining service. We wrote comment cards stating that the policy was the issue not individuals. Apparently, Celebrity listened to us and probably many others with similar issues, and took corrective action. Celebrity now has over 3500 fully trained sommeliers fleet wide, so no waiting for that bottle to be opened. They also have assigned cocktail waiters back to the dining rooms to handle soft drink, beer and mixed drink orders.
There are several ways that you can show your appreciation for your crew. The gratuity system is one of the ways to express your appreciation. We had pre-paid our gratuities, so we utilized the comment cards to mention by name some of the crew members who had worked so hard for us. We also had a little extra cash in envelopes to give-out or we added tips to receipts for those with exceptional service. Extra gratuities, though neither required or expected, can also be added to any account at the guest relations desk. The last formal night of each cruise they make a big deal in the main dining room by announcing the staff and allowing guest to cheer for their servers. It is nice to see that the main dining room experience is still a central focus of a Celebrity cruise, and the cheering and parade give you a chance to cheer on your favorites.