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The ship is an engineering marvel. From the moment we approached the vessel from the pier, I was awestruck by its enormity. It is very impressive. Having spent the better part of a twenty year career working as a Hospitality and Marketing Professional, I suppose I understand better than most that facilities do not an experience make. The facilities (ship) are simply the canvas upon which the memories can be painted through rich and engaging experiences facilitated by caring service professionals. Although my background includes some of the most recognizable luxury brands, I also realize that expert service is not the exclusive domain of the luxury brand. High quality service can forever embellish a memory and more importantly drive the highest levels of customer satisfaction. When that happens, loyal customers are created. Unfortunately that service component was noticeably poor on our recent cruise. From the lack of warm and friendly staff to the gratuity driven smiles on the final day, it is clear that the culture aboard this particular ship is or has become oblivious to the opportunity to enrich the passenger experience through service. Let me explain with one example: we encountered a problem shortly after embarking. Our luggage did not arrive in our guestrooms and by 8pm there was still no sign of the luggage. When we went to the Guest Relations Desk the agent seemed unconcerned and simply told us that luggage was still being delivered so we went to dinner. Immediately after dinner we checked our rooms and still no luggage so we went back to the desk, 3 of our 4 pieces were located on the landing near the front desk so I carried them to our rooms. The fourth was still absent. The guest relations agent again seemed unconcerned while entering the data into the computer for the lost piece. I advised the agent that we had been upgraded upon arrival so that perhaps it would be helpful to check the previously assigned room. I won't share any more of the details but suffice it to say that by mid-morning the next day and no less than five trips to the guest relations desk, the piece had still not been delivered. After my third strong suggestion that they pickup the phone and ask housekeeping to check the previously assigned room, voila the missing piece was found. A guest relations computer was incapable of finding my luggage, but a simple call to housekeeping found it in 5 minutes. While missing luggage happens for whatever reason, the service breakdown and the lack of ownership to solve my problem by the guest relations staff was most evident. By the way nobody ever apologized or indicated that they would solve the problem. The simplest and often most effective problem resolution action, the apology, was never offered. Nor was there any "management" contact with us until we initiated the request. This lack of caring and lack of involvement by management was not isolated to our problem with luggage. Throughout the entire cruise, I don't recall any of the ships management staff ever greeting me, smiling at me, acknowledging my presence or simply wishing me Happy Holidays. It was as if I was passing strangers in an office building. A service culture is established in two ways, from the top down and secondly from the type of people recruited for the most important guest contact areas. If the ship's management are noticeably absent and unaware or uninvolved in guest problems, then the front line staff will not recognize the importance of resolving problems to the guest's satisfaction. As a result nobody "owned" my problem that is nobody took it upon themselves to ensure my problem was resolved to my satisfaction. In other words, my problem became a data entry into shipboard computer system. The computer became responsible for solving my problem, not the people who could actually solve it. Only after we became agitated and insistent did the simple actions occur that ultimately solved my problem. Secondly, if the people recruited for the most important guest contact areas lack warm and caring attitudes then problems escalate and dissatisfaction skyrockets. Unfortunately the missing luggage was not our only problem. But in every case the poor service response was consistent. However, we were not going to allow service issues to interfere with our experience so we assumed that we would essentially have to work around the issues and enjoy ourselves, which we did. In the end, a chance to create loyal customers is lost and billions of dollars spent on engineering marvels is devalued. Million dollar ad campaigns do not create loyal customers but are the only option when customers fail to repeat. I recall listening to the Captain's speech during his reception when he gave out some simple statistics on the guests aboard. He mentioned the number of repeating guests. I did a quick calculation of the repeating guests as a percentage of total guests. As an expert, I can tell you that it was very low. In conclusion I'd say that bigger is indeed not always better. While Royal Caribbean may be experts at building gigantic vessels, they could take some lessons from a bed & breakfast.

Navigating some rough seas

Navigator of the Seas Cruise Review by R2traveler

Trip Details
The ship is an engineering marvel. From the moment we approached the vessel from the pier, I was awestruck by its enormity. It is very impressive.
Having spent the better part of a twenty year career working as a Hospitality and Marketing Professional, I suppose I understand better than most that facilities do not an experience make. The facilities (ship) are simply the canvas upon which the memories can be painted through rich and engaging experiences facilitated by caring service professionals. Although my background includes some of the most recognizable luxury brands, I also realize that expert service is not the exclusive domain of the luxury brand. High quality service can forever embellish a memory and more importantly drive the highest levels of customer satisfaction. When that happens, loyal customers are created.
Unfortunately that service component was noticeably poor on our recent cruise. From the lack of warm and friendly staff to the gratuity driven smiles on the final day, it is clear that the culture aboard this particular ship is or has become oblivious to the opportunity to enrich the passenger experience through service.
Let me explain with one example: we encountered a problem shortly after embarking. Our luggage did not arrive in our guestrooms and by 8pm there was still no sign of the luggage. When we went to the Guest Relations Desk the agent seemed unconcerned and simply told us that luggage was still being delivered so we went to dinner. Immediately after dinner we checked our rooms and still no luggage so we went back to the desk, 3 of our 4 pieces were located on the landing near the front desk so I carried them to our rooms. The fourth was still absent. The guest relations agent again seemed unconcerned while entering the data into the computer for the lost piece. I advised the agent that we had been upgraded upon arrival so that perhaps it would be helpful to check the previously assigned room. I won't share any more of the details but suffice it to say that by mid-morning the next day and no less than five trips to the guest relations desk, the piece had still not been delivered. After my third strong suggestion that they pickup the phone and ask housekeeping to check the previously assigned room, voila the missing piece was found. A guest relations computer was incapable of finding my luggage, but a simple call to housekeeping found it in 5 minutes.
While missing luggage happens for whatever reason, the service breakdown and the lack of ownership to solve my problem by the guest relations staff was most evident. By the way nobody ever apologized or indicated that they would solve the problem. The simplest and often most effective problem resolution action, the apology, was never offered. Nor was there any "management" contact with us until we initiated the request.
This lack of caring and lack of involvement by management was not isolated to our problem with luggage. Throughout the entire cruise, I don't recall any of the ships management staff ever greeting me, smiling at me, acknowledging my presence or simply wishing me Happy Holidays. It was as if I was passing strangers in an office building.
A service culture is established in two ways, from the top down and secondly from the type of people recruited for the most important guest contact areas. If the ship's management are noticeably absent and unaware or uninvolved in guest problems, then the front line staff will not recognize the importance of resolving problems to the guest's satisfaction. As a result nobody "owned" my problem that is nobody took it upon themselves to ensure my problem was resolved to my satisfaction. In other words, my problem became a data entry into shipboard computer system. The computer became responsible for solving my problem, not the people who could actually solve it. Only after we became agitated and insistent did the simple actions occur that ultimately solved my problem. Secondly, if the people recruited for the most important guest contact areas lack warm and caring attitudes then problems escalate and dissatisfaction skyrockets.
Unfortunately the missing luggage was not our only problem. But in every case the poor service response was consistent. However, we were not going to allow service issues to interfere with our experience so we assumed that we would essentially have to work around the issues and enjoy ourselves, which we did.
In the end, a chance to create loyal customers is lost and billions of dollars spent on engineering marvels is devalued. Million dollar ad campaigns do not create loyal customers but are the only option when customers fail to repeat. I recall listening to the Captain's speech during his reception when he gave out some simple statistics on the guests aboard. He mentioned the number of repeating guests. I did a quick calculation of the repeating guests as a percentage of total guests. As an expert, I can tell you that it was very low.
In conclusion I'd say that bigger is indeed not always better. While Royal Caribbean may be experts at building gigantic vessels, they could take some lessons from a bed & breakfast.
R2traveler’s Full Rating Summary
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