Mike, Heidi, Arielle and Sasha Said's Trip Report

Brilliance of the Seas
Ocean View

I thought it may be best to post the letter I included with my onboard assessment at the end of the cruise...

Universally we all believe we are good drivers and all believe WE are the only ones who are truly able to differentiate good service from bad… Is one guest any more (or less) qualified to judge and report on the service received than the rest? Probably not, and for this reasons guest surveys as relevant as they may seem and as powerful as they often prove in the advancement of the staff who rely so heavily on their results may be, they are not always an indication of what has truly been experienced.

How, for example, can you rate the smile you received every morning from your cabin attendant as she hurries to clean not only yours, but a whole floor of cabins day in and day out? What value do you place on a waiter (and his fantastic assistant) who not only serves you daily but somehow manages to brighten your day, entertain your children, advise you on your activities of the following day and all this while remembering each guest’s specific likes dislikes and preferences? And what of the anonymous staff, the cleaners, the bus boys, the pool attendants, the bar tenders, the entertainers and the hundreds of crew members operating behind the scenes to ensure that MY holiday is beyond my wildest expectations.

By way of introduction my name is Michael Said and I have a small company based in Johannesburg, South Africa called brandStrategy. For the past eight years I have trained literally thousands of front line staff in the hospitality industry throughout South Africa. For the past twelve days I have been on the receiving end of some world class service and world class experiences I would like to share with you. Although I will not mention people by name I feel it is only right to tell you I travelled on The Brilliance of the Seas from 20 June 2010 to 2 July 2010. My cabin number was 7644, my table number was 520 and we ate at the 6pm sitting.

I would like to believe that the amazing people I came into contact with on a daily basis were NOT the exception to the rule and that the thousands of other guests on board shared in my experiences. From the moment we boarded we have been made to feel welcome and at times even singled out for special attention. It is this gift that truly separates great service staff from good ones. That ability to make a customer feel like the most important person in the world, the center of the servers universe, the very reason they are at work today… and to be able to do that time and time again, sitting after sitting and guest after guest. I take my hat off to you all.

Now I use the term “server” quite loosely and it covers all description of staff on board the ship. I have been trying (sometimes regrettably in vain) to teach the philosophy that in a service environment if you are not currently serving a guest, you had better be serving someone who is! It is only this support structure moving up and down the ladder that can result in the great level of service we received while on board.

This is our third cruise with Royal Caribbean and each time I return to South Africa with experiences and tales of exceptional service that I am able to use in my training, for that I thank you all. Do I have any complaints or tips that could improve things for those that are to follow? Not really… I would just say “do not for a second underestimate the power and importance of the training you are receiving and giving on an ongoing basis” It is this that sets you apart from the rest and ensures that passengers like my family and myself leave the ship “Raving Fans” spreading the word on your behalf.

I have completed the guest survey as requested and trust that those involved in making our experience so memorable will receive the due recognition but I would like to conclude by reminding you that the scores indicated, are only a tiny indication of the pleasure you have given us on this cruise.

Until we cruise again

What was your motivation to take a cruise?: 
It was a family cruise, 11 members of family from all over the world
What was a highlight of your cruise?: 
12 Days of sheer bliss and you want me to pick one? The day on the island of Santorini and Sorrento.
What did you dislike about your cruise?: 
The exorbitant price charged for internet access! Possibly 5 to 10 years ago this was justified but with the falling price of bandwidth and communication this does feel like a rip off. If they were able to receive the world cup live daily, surely they need to re-asses the cost of internet connections on board ship.
Did you do any excursions?: 
No, we prefer to do our own thing
How was your cabin?: 
We had a sea view cabin with a balcony, cabins are compact (read small) but you spend so little time in them that they are more than adequate. Hats off to the cleaning staff who maintain them!
How was the food on the ship?: 
As always it was plentiful and excellent... unfortunately after 12 days it does start to taste and look the same.
Would you cruise again on this ship?: