Why should you care if a cruise line takes care of its crew? Why should you care if the crew are happy? As long as you get a sweet deal on the cruise of a lifetime, that’s all that matters, right?
All cruisers should always remember this one simple thought: the crew makes the cruise. Repeat it in your mind a few times if need be, but never forget the people behind every delicious dish, made bed, clean glass, warm smile and safe journey.
The interaction a cruise passenger has with the crew members of the ship can often make or break the vacation.
I have mentioned in previous posts that a happy crew member is infectious, spreading to the ship’s passengers. And crew members are more likely to go out of their way to help you if they actually enjoy their job.
Here are some areas in which the crew makes all the difference in the cruise vacation experience.
In Your Stateroom
Most cruisers probably don’t fully appreciate all that room stewards do every day. But a good crew will not only make sure everything is clean and tidy but will also see if you have special needs or preferences. Some will even showcase the cabin’s features and see if you have any questions. You could run into your room steward 3 to 7 times a day (depending how often you frequent your room and walk the hallways), so that friendly and helpful disposition certainly goes a long way.
On my recent Viking ocean cruise I was fortunate to have an amazing crew, and the room attendants were phenomenally good. They even went so far as to fold my hoodie into a neat little bundle when I had sloppily left it hanging over the chair in my room. But most of all, I enjoyed the friendly conversation with my room stewards and asking them about their day as they ask about mine. A good room attendant is a delight to converse with, and it should be something you should look forward to and not try to avoid.
In the Dining Areas
I cannot imagine the stress involved when trying to feed hundreds or thousands of people at one time on a massive ship. It’s a colossal feat. I know I would not want to have to deal with a bunch of hungry passengers at dinner time.
When the crew is both trained and happy, dinner in the main dining room can be one of the highlights of your cruise. Again, I will draw from my most recent cruise. The wait staff from the main dining room, to Manfredi’s, to the buffet have been on top of their game. The water glass is always full, the order is always accurate, and the friendly vibe is always genuine.
The thing that amazes me the most about a good wait staff is their composure. Even with a kitchen that’s busier than rush hour in New York City and orders flying out the door, the wait staff still has to calmly deliver your plate of food as if you are the only cruise passenger on the ship.
It’s one thing for the wait staff to take an order and then leave. It’s another altogether when the wait staff makes you feel like you have all the time in the world, asks about your day, and tells you a funny story about what happened to them in port.
If you ever have a bad wait staff on a cruise you will appreciate all the more how much attention to detail goes into making dinner one of the best “excursions” on your trip.
For Your Entertainment
How often I have imagined what it must be like to live as a performer on a cruise ship. Every night you have to “bring it” as cruise passengers are sitting in their comfy theater seats with full bellies and high expectations. Though far from their families and friends back home, these performers entertain cruise guests as if they are the only ones that matter. That alone deserves some respect. An entertainment crew that is both highly trained and happy to do their job can make for some magical memories on your cruise vacation. Be sure to thank them and compliment them as you see them around the ship.
At the Desk
You never really appreciate all that the front desk people do until you have a problem that needs to be resolved. Whether it’s an excursion issue you need to be handled or a simple question about your bill you need to be answered, the crew members that work at guest relations and other desk areas are the ones who bear the burden of making sure the passengers are satisfied. The really good ones wear an authentic smile no matter how belligerent the cruise passenger is being, and they go out of their way to do their jobs. Little things come up on a cruise. Sometimes they are completely unforeseen, so having a good crew to keep these little things from becoming big things is a big deal.
At the Spa
People go to a spa to relax. So, anything that detracts from that experience can just frustrate a cruise passenger. I know some cruise lines will train their therapists to become sales people and push the lotions, oils, and products from which they make their money. I’m not a fan of this procedure. Not only does it take away from your treatment time, but no one enjoys a sales pitch right after they have been pampered into euphoria. One thing I really appreciated about my latest Viking ocean cruise was the lack of any sales pitch of any kind after my treatment
All Around the Ship
A cruise ship can have anywhere from a few hundred crew to thousands of crew, so any time you spend on the ship will involve interaction with people who are working during your vacation. As difficult as it may be, a good crew member will look for opportunities to make a good impression, even if they are about to clock out or are having a bad day themselves.
There are many crew members you will never see. They are maintaining the ship, keeping you safe, and cleaning the hallways while you sleep. But all of them will provide a better experience for you when they are taken care of by the cruise line. This is why it matters how much they get paid, how much time they have off, and what perks are provided to them. I was impressed on my last cruise with Viking when I learned that the cruise line provides the crew with free WiFi. One crew member told me that on another line he would have to spend almost half his paycheck on WiFi just so he could talk to his family back home. Having this service provided at no extra cost was a very big deal.
A Personal Story About a Certain Crew Member
This story amazes me every time I think about it. My wife and I were about to get off the ship at a port in Scotland while on a Viking cruise. One of the crew was standing there and took the time to talk to us for about 10 minutes. We talked about our adorable little 2-year-old boy and how much we missed him, and he told us about his 4-year-old back home that he missed as well. This crew member was so genuine and caring as we talked about our families and it was a refreshing conversation. It wasn’t until the next night that I discovered who we had been talking to that whole time. It was none other than the captain himself. Captain Bengt-Owe Gustafsson of Viking Sky was the most approachable captain of any cruise ship I have been on. I later heard stories about how he takes the time to approach each crew member on their birthday to make their day special and is regularly seen around the ship talking with crew and passengers. This was very impressive. He went out of his way when he didn’t have to, but that interaction made for an even better cruise experience.
A Word to Cruise Fever Readers
The crew on a ship all have their own stories. Yes, they are serving you during your voyage, but they have problems of their own, burdens they also have to carry. I would admonish every reader of Cruise Fever to go out of their way to make a crew member feel loved and cared for on their next cruise. It might only take a couple extra minutes in conversation or showing genuine care. But as the tongue is a little member of our bodies, it can do both great harm and great good. Choose the latter.
And don’t forget you can speak with your wallet too.