One of the trademarks of cruising is service that goes above and beyond what you might experience on a land based vacation. Many cruisers choose this vacation style because they appreciate the little extras that make cruising so special. While many people have differing opinions on what constitutes excellent service, I thought it might be helpful for me to detail the kinds of exceptional service I’ve experienced on a cruise ship that makes me want to return again and again.
They Know You By Name
Usually by the second day of the cruise, all of your dedicated service personnel will know you by name. Some times is it simply by you last name. Other times, especially in the dining room, they know your first name. Sometimes the waiter will write down my name the first night when he takes my order, other waiters have learned it by simply remembering it. I’m sure this is all part of their training. The cruise lines surely emphasize the importance of learning passengers names, but it really does make passengers feel special when, for example, passengers are leaving for their excursion and their cabin steward says “Enjoy your time ashore, Mrs. Smith.” If you attend ship’s sponsored activities like trivia or karaoke, often the members of the entertainment staff will get to know your name as well. Perhaps you might experiences something similar at an all inclusive resort, but the compact space of a ship and dedicated service personnel are very conducive to service by name.
They Anticipate Your Needs
The anticipation of needs must be another skill taught to service staff by the cruise lines. I usually have a glass of white wine before dinner on a cruise. We tend to make ourselves creatures of habit when it comes to where we go for our pre-dinner cocktail, and several days into all of our cruises there has been one or two bar waiters who would bring me my Chardonnay as soon as I sat down. Of course, they want to earn the 15% tip that is added on to every alcohol purchase, but I don’t mind at all when I receive such outstanding service. In the dining room the waiters often try to accommodate special preferences like my daughter wanting a baked potato every night. Once one waiter found out home much she loved them, he asked her if she would like one every night, even when they are not on the menu. He would put in an order before the beginning of service so that her baked potato would be ready for her when he served the entrees.
They Keep Everything Tidy
One of my favorite parts of cruising is cleanliness of the ships. All of our cabin stewards have been fast and efficient. It seems we just leave the room for a few minutes and come back to discover the beds are made, clothes picked up off the floor and carpets vacuumed. I love having the bathrooms, both in cabin and public, kept immaculate. The dining areas and kitchens are also extremely clean. The assistant waiters come around with a crumb scraper between courses and clean the table. It goes with-out saying that you don’t have to worry about doing dishes on a cruise, but even when you eat in the buffet area the waiters come by and clear your table for you. When we took a tour of the kitchen I was impresses cleanliness of every surface in the kitchen from the floor to the food preparation areas.
They Get To Know Your Preferences
On our last cruise we attended several wine tasting event which were co-hosted by the ship’s wine stewards. Part of the event was time spent discussing the nuisances of the different styles of wines and sharing those preference with our wine steward. One of the best parts of that experience was that based on our likes and dislikes from that event, he was able to make recommendations for us through-out the cruise. On another cruise, the wine stewards offer a three style wine tasting the main dining room. The steward poured me about a 1/3 of a glass in three different glasses of three different styles of wine. Again the purpose of this tasting was to help the steward learn what I liked so he could guide me in my wine selection. The waiters have also made recommendations for dinner based on the types of food that we had previously ordered and enjoyed.
They Have Little Added Touches
Sometimes it is the small things that make a cruise so special and each cruise line has slightly different areas where they excel at the little touches. Celebrity greets passengers as they board with Champagne or Orange Juice and escorts them to their cabin. Princess offers a special balcony dining service. Holland America has their Signature of Excellence program where they strive to “go the extra” mile in every aspect of the cruise experience, but in particular service. Luxury lines like Regent, Seaborn, and Silversea pride themselves on such excellent service that they do not require or expect tipping. Even passengers who cruise the the “mass market” cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean rave about the excellent service they received.
We invite our readers to share they experiences with service on cruise ships. Though it can sometimes vary from cruise to cruise, I have been luckily to always have received excellent service in my 30 years of cruising.