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Royal Caribbean – Delivering the WOW

I love to write about companies that deliver exceptional customer service. Quik Trip, Major League Baseball, Chick-Fil-A, and Disney are a few of my previous examples. This past week my family and I vacationed with Royal Caribbean for the first time. We’ve taken cruises before on other cruise lines, so the attention to detail that a cruise staff delivers is not a surprise to us. But there were a few things different about this cruise and the entire family came away with a great feeling that we had spent our vacation dollar wisely. Royal Caribbean likes to use the term WOW to designate their guest experience. Here’s some of our WOW from the past week.


Dietary Support

I’ll start with the support on the menu for gluten-free foods. My daughter must stay away from gluten and this restriction requires us to plan meals ahead of time or often severely limits her choices on a menu. The Royal Caribbean menu clearly marked items that were gluten-free or available in gluten-free servings. Our dining wait staff immediately picked-up on this and each night would both order my daughter’s meal ahead of time as well as bring her the gluten free bread with our asking for it. WOW!

Cruise Director

Is the job of Cruise Director the toughest on the ship? Arguably yes. I certainly value the cleaning staff and room stewards, but the Cruise Director can make or break a cruise experience with the planned activities. In our most recent trip our cruise director was vibrant and full of energy. That’s expected. But he had the right level of wittiness to hold a crowd’s attention without coming-off as forced or non genuine. Comparing him to my past cruise experiences, he was more visible in the activities than other cruise directors. In fact, in many cases, he was a participant with many of the other guests and he was always an extension of the entertainment staff. WOW!

WOW Cards

The cruise line has a formal way for guests to recognize exemplary service from the cruise staff. They provide WOW cards that can be given to the staff member in-person or dropped in a box by guest services. I like this. It’s an easy way to give a shout-out to staff members to recognize them. My wife did take the time to fill-out a few cards with some specific examples of service that our family enjoyed. This example has me thinking about ways to transform the idea to my office environment. It’s a great way to both encourage and reward high levels of customer service. WOW!

The Centrum

The centrum (center of the ship) was a large open area that spanned six or so floors on the ship. There were multiple activities planned in this space including dancing, live music, and game competitions. I was amazed at how the cruise guests would gather and watch the festivities on each floor of the centrum. In many of the games we saw active participation not just from the main floor but in the overlook of the floors above as well. I liked the use of this space by the Royal Caribbean crew. It created a town-hall type feel and was a public gathering place to enjoy some laughs and to be entertained. WOW!

It wasn’t all sunny

To be fair, it wasn’t all sunny. The ice machines on the ship were either broken or out of ice. On several occasions we had to walk from machine-to-machine just to get a cup of water with ice.

Smokers seemed to take over much of the outdoor areas on the ship. We don’t smoke and we don’t enjoy second-hand smoke. This is a personal choice for others and they have their right. But I wish Royal Caribbean would designate some of the outdoor space as smoke free.

Odds and Ends

I laughed out loud when I heard the theme song from the Titanic (musical version ) played in the quiet pool deck area. Great song, but really?

We played a few of the trivia games with the cruise entertainment staff. One question was “what is the longest living mammal?”. I said blue whale. The correct answer in the game was humans. Hmmm.  See life expectancy for the bowhead whale.

All things considered, we were WOWed. Thanks for the customer focus Royal Caribbean!