Thursday, June 10, 2010

Are You Being Served?

For those of you who have never been on a cruise or may have cruised just a few times you may not realize that there is a difference in the type of service you receive not only depending on which cruise line you use but also the size of the ship.

Years ago the staff was more efficient and you never saw your cabin steward but would miraculously have a clean room and bowls of fruit awaiting you when you came in from dinner. The reason for this is because everyone had a dinner time; either the early seating or the late seating and the cabin crew knew exactly when to get into the rooms and get back out before you finished your meal. Now everyone has a different agenda for dinner and the stewards just get to your rooms when they can. I can't say it's their fault, it's just times have changed and more and more people are opting to cruise for their vacations and there are many more rooms to attend then ever in the history of cruising.

My mother took a cruise back in 1977 on the Princess Lines and she said the wait staff at her table practically fell over each other to make sure their every wish or whim was granted. She thought there was probably one person in service for every 4 people on board.

Not too long ago tipping was something that was done at the end of the cruise and you were given envelopes to put your cash tips in according to the type of service you received. There was one for the cabin steward and his assistants, one for the Maitre 'd, one for the sommelier (person who took care of wine ordering and keeping the glasses filled), one for your waiter and his assistant (because you had the same one each night). You were given a suggested amount per day to put into the envelope and if you had extra good service you could include more. Unfortunately, I think too many people left without giving any tips at all and it has ruined it for others.

Now that has gone by the wayside and everyone gets tips whether the service is top notch or not. Most of them are very friendly and work very hard to please you, but other times you will find that the cream for your morning coffee hasn't been refilled or the dishes from last night are still laying around the room. Again, it isn't a reflection on them so much as the fact that they just have way too much work to do for two people. You will find them in your room ready to change your sheets for the next cruisers when your still getting ready to leave the ship because they have a very short time frame from one cruise to the next.

My husband figured out one way to beat this problem and that is to tip them in advance so they know there is more coming at the end of the cruise if the service is very good. We also tip in cash to the waitstaff in the specialty restaurants if we feel they have gone above and beyond their job description. Some are just more outgoing and make sure your night is memorable and you want to give them a little extra.

Different Lines do different things for their passengers too. Holland America always had a moist wash cloth to hand to you as you re-entered the ship from port to wipe off the dirt and perspiration. They also had hot chocolate on the colder cruises to New England. We loved all that. The price to cruise was a little higher than you might pay for another Line but well worth it if you like the extra pampering.

I haven't been on the mega ships (such as the Oasis and the Eurodam) yet but I wonder how it is working out for the service, not only in the rooms but also around the ship. They keep adding more and more cabins but I wonder how many are hired on for the extra services.

Don't let this discourage you from cruising as you will no doubt have a wonderful time. I think it's like anything else in life. Once you've had the best there's no comparison and my husband and I have definitely had the best.


ArtSnark said...

Thanks for the tips. & for pointing out my broken link which is working now.

Have a great weekend!

Audrey said...

We've thought about going on a cruise, but I just don't like water. Was on a fairy here in Canada once and also took one from the Netherlands to England at night. But I was a lot younger and not so much of a chicken then :)