The reason I didn't just ask my butler to make the reservations is the subject of another column I will be doing about butlers.
I don't know how YOU are first thing in the morning, but the last thing I feel like is small talk.
When a butler asks me "is there anything else you want me to do" at 7:00 a.m. when I have just barely opened my eyes and he is placing a napkin in my barely covered lap, the last thing I think of is "I think I'd like to dine in Aqualina tomorrow night."
The point is - you DON'T always think of what you want at the correct time. Sometimes ideas just occur to you (isn't that the definition of "ideas?").
I had just decided I wanted to dine in there at about 3:30 and I was at the front desk, so I asked guest relations if they could make a reservation, They told me they could. and would.
They didn't. That's a fail in my book.
(also, just FYI, I generally trust guest relations far more than butlers. In my mind a butler is a glorified room steward. Also, just because it matters to me, it was 3:30 and as a former cruise ship staff member I know that is when butlers take breaks, so I didn't want to call him and wouldn't have for anything at that time of day.)
Also - Eric, you can place different aspects of cruises in different orders of importance, but don't expect everyone else to agree with your priorities.
I know people who cruise to dance - they are dance enthusiasts. If the band that is scheduled to be playing at 8:30 is sitting at a table drinking at 8:45 just because "no one is there anyway" then that's another "fail."
I like good food, I got very tired of wine by day four, but I generally cruise for stateroom comfort and destinations. Dinner is often NOT a priority to me. But when it is, I like to think I can get what I was told I can get.
By the way - I went to Aqualina at 8:15 the night of my 8:30 reservation and there wera at least 10 empty tables for 2. They could have easily accomodated me earlier. I talked to a friend who had reservations in Prime C the same night. He was also told 8:30. He went there at 7:30, stayed and had a drink, and also saw numerous empty tables he could have had at 7:30 if not earlier. Their reservation system has problems.
Sorry Paul, I thought I read that entertainment wasn't a big deal for you. Regardless, it is a "fail" that the entertainment was bad. I leave it to each person to determine if it is a "fail", a "Fail" or a "FAIL". But if you are going on a cruise for dancing, and some do, it is critical to check such things out in advance. Crystal specializes in it and markets itself for same. Azamara doesn't. It is, however, obviously good to know...and to be avoided or considered with trepidation.
Similarly, mixups with reservations at specialty restaurants is - for me - a known issue on most every line. My strategy is to walk into the restaurant during the day if I can't get something comfirmed immediately.
I have thi strategy because of prior "fails"...but I keep them as all lower case.
Also, there is a deceptive things about empty tables. Sometimes they are intentionally empty because the restaurant works on X number of people being serviced at a time. By staggering a dinner service that can last 2 hours, tables for two can sit empty for 1.5 hours because there are tables of 6 or 8 being served at earlier times. (By having a good mix of tables, there will be other times when tables for 2 are full and tables for 6 or 8 are empty.)
For example, I have a group of 20+ on the Century this Saturday, but I had to book out Murano for the entire evening because it cannot serve 20+ people at one time with its normal service. However it seats more than 20 if you count the chairs.
It seems from your comments that the cruise seemed to start out great and slipped in a number of areas the longer it went on. Is that correct?
No, I don't change my mind as things go along. If I say something in the beginning I mean it still, unless I say later "I have changed my mind".
When I refer to "great service" that to me generally impies the waiters and housekeeping (to a lesser degree).
I don't generally put "guest relations" under service because I expect them to be flawless, and I rarely mention them unless they are not.
This was one case where I had an issue with them (and another I haven't even gone into, but something of a special circumstance). I know some people seem to get into it with them on every cruise. I am not one of those people. The only other time I ever complained about guest relations was on Mariner of the Seas - another story.
I still think this ship had the best food I have had since Crystal, and while Crystal was better overall, I had the singular best meal ever on this ship in Prime C.
I just wanted to point out that to me getting your money's worth out of a cruise involves a lot more than just good food. It involves their ability to execute your special requests (which are not "special" - they are what you paid for).
I have also had issues with some maitre d's and special dining on other ships, and I have learned it is best to handle these things directly as you suggest. Sometimes I learn by experience, and obviously for me - it was just my turn.
Well said. A good cruise is a mix of things and food cannot be the only part as to my mind a good hotel that deals with convention is under the same pressure especially if they want that convention back the next year.
__________________ Rob Next Cruise: History: Celebrity Infinity-1, Dawn Princess-1, Sea Princess-2, Golden Princess-2, HA Maasdam-1, SS Cavina-1 Web site: http://robbarcruises.wordpress.com/
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First, as Azamara’s Chief Blogging Officer, I want to thank for your very comprehensive Azamara Virtual Tour - a diary of your thoughts and feelings about your entire experience on the Azamara Journey’s January 8, 2011 voyage to the “Sea of Cortez.” Second, I was very disappointed that I did not have the opportunity to meet you after you had boarded the ship when it was in San Diego. Earlier that morning, I came aboard with Edie Bornstein, our VP of Marketing and Sales, to tour and inspect the ship since I had never seen the vessel. After a very thorough tour I disembarked at about 3:30 pm.
For me, when I avidly read your daily comments, it reminded me of viewing an x-ray of our service delivery process. Our onboard team is trained in “anticipatory service” to be able to anticipate a guest’s needs and empowered to make it happen during each moment of their vacation. Further, we stress the need for our staff member to deliver our product with flair and style tempered with respect for the intangibles: feelings, perceptions, and attitudes.
We want to impress you each and every moment we get a chance; however, I was very disappointed to read that we failed to meet your expectations in making your dining reservation in the Aqualina Restaurant after you had done so at the front desk. We strive for seamless service delivery. Since my role is to be the “eyes and ears” for Larry Pimentel and his executive team, I am passing on your comments along with your perceptive opinions about our entertainment to them. Your input will be extremely valuable to our ongoing benchmarking across the various areas in our guest service delivery. We understand that the journey to excellence is never ended – it is evolutionary.
As a point of reference, the guest satisfaction scores on the Journey’s January 8th Sea of Cortez voyage were very impressive since they reflected the opinions of guests who have traveled on fine quality lines and were able to discern the difference: Overall Cruise Experience = 290.3 or 96.8% - a perfect score is 300!
Nevertheless, in your case it seemed to be an issue of “consistency” and “seamless” communication. By meeting that challenge, only then can we expect to drive all of our guest ratings closer to 300. Since that is our target, that explains why I addressed your “irksome” shortfall first rather than your positive findings. We appreciated reading your approving comments every day about your overall experience especially with respect to your dining experiences and to our “destination immersion” philosophy.
For all of us at Azamara, however, the most satisfying feeling occurred when we realized that the overall experience which our officers, staff and crew delivered to you for the 8 days you were aboard, translated into your decision to title your January 21st article for FoxBusiness.com – “Azamara Cruises: Surprisingly Excellent.”
Chief Blogging Officer*
Azamara Club Cruises
(*CBO is an authorized and compensated representative of ACC)