Sea ViewsFrom President and COO, Adam Goldstein

Sea Views Blog with Adam Goldstein

Guest Post: Bark Blog

Psychology 101 teaches us that first and last impressions have a disproportionately large impact on memory formation. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the process of departing a cruise figures prominently in our guests’ recollection of their experience with Royal Caribbean International. Guests have been asking us for a long time to improve the debark experience. Lisa Bauer, our Senior VP, Hotel Operations is my guest today to tell you what have done in this regard. Congratulations to Lisa and her team as well as Craig Milan and his Guest Port Services team for moving us forward in this important area.

Lisa Bauer

Lisa Bauer

You may wonder why I’ve titled this particular blog “bark” and what it could possibly mean. The subject matter is actually about the enhancements we’ve made to the departure, or debark processes. So, when we formed the working team to review guest feedback, recommendations and current practices with a focus on materially changing the process, my staff thought that it would be fun to name the project “Bark” because I love pets and have 3 dogs, and that it would be one of my favorite projects if it was named “bark.”
The review of the “bark” processes highlighted that we had the opportunity to improve the guest experience.
Before I get into the disembarkation process I wanted to make one small comment regarding our embarkation process. One of the best ways our guests can ensure a speedy embark process is to complete the online ‘Set Sail’ check-in prior to arrival. This greatly expedites the process so that you can be well on your way to enjoying a wonderful cruise vacation.
With regard to our disembarkation procedures our customers told us what was most important to them was not to be “kicked out of their rooms at 6am;” that all the announcements created a hectic environment; and that we had the opportunity to improve the overall experience. We also had some challenges with the length of time the process takes. The majority of these items are directly in our control, so we listened to the feedback and made changes. However, to truly have an expedited departure, we are also highly dependent on the local customs and border patrol staffing and support, and this is an area that we don’t directly control. We continue to work with local officials to improve in this area as well.
Based on the suggestions and requests, on departure day, guests now have extended access to their staterooms, as well as continued in-stateroom TV entertainment. In addition, guests are receiving an “As You Depart” notice the day before departure, which communicates the location of departure lounges offering refreshments and light entertainment as well as information related to local immigration and customs and the anticipated timing of departure for various groups. We also saw the opportunity to ensure that families had a unique experience, so one of the departure lounges is now a dedicated Family Zone, which will include refreshments, toys and games geared toward younger cruisers. One of the key highlights of the new process is the minimal amount of ship-wide public announcements all morning to maintain a relaxing atmosphere, with nearly all departure updates limited to the departure lounges and through the in-stateroom TV programming. The overall feedback so far has been very favorable, and we continue to focus on how we can improve both the embark and debark process.

16 responses to:
“Guest Post: Bark Blog”

  1. tom young

    I live on the Canadian Border in Vermont so going through the identification process is important and takes time. Realizing again your company isn’t trying to start the cruise process by pissing people off and you have to do what is needed to keep 2200 to 6000 people safe and happy is no easy task. I have never felt hassled by the registration process. It is just the anticipation of the good time you are about to embark on makes every minute seem like an hour. One time the phote machine broke at the port but that was another cruise line and we won’t go there. Please keep doing whatever it is you do to keep us safe and improve where you can to make it user friendly. I can only imagine the first time the Oasis sails the crunch there will be at the port. Good Luck in trying to figure all that out.


  2. John Longcrier

    I am disappointed that we cannot take advantage of our shareholder on board credit benefit in addition to the Diamond level discount on a balcony cabin. This does not seem fair! we may as well shop another cruise line for sales on balcony cabins!

  3. nolan

    The debarking process is done every well in my Mind.
    never had a problem getting off. Keep up the good Work
    RCL. Thanks for help me have a nice vacation.
    When I Go Cruzing

  4. Juergen Haar

    The idea sounds very good, BUT twice we had to participate in the Express Departure to make our plane connection. Twice there were about a thousand people doing express departure and carrying their luggage themselves. So we took a later flight next time and waited in the lounge provided by the Crown and Anchor club. After 15 min. the coffee and donuts were gone, there was no one to talk to, etc, etc.
    Lets hope that under the new concept this will change.If it works, we shall be very grateful.

  5. Patricia hunter

    Thanks for improving the departure procedure. We like to enjoy every moment of our RCCL cruises and maybe stay up a little to late on the last night. We feel better if our luggage could be found more easily especially on the larger ships leaving from Miami.

    Now we know why we sail RCCL. We’re Phillies fans, too!

  6. thomas lamb

    Our departure from Grandeur of the Seas at Norfolk, Va. in May 2009. We were able to depart in less than two hours. We have used this port several times and have been very pleased with the service.

  7. RCL4EVer

    I do hope things have improved since my Independence cruise (November, 2008). Debarkation was total chaos! The “new” process was being implemented and was a disaster!!! We were still asked to vacate our cabins early (8am) and the TV’s were off by 7am. The only channel available was CNN or MSNBC (can’t remember exactly which one). Debarkation needs to take place at the both ends of the ship. People had to walk (elderly and physically challenged) all the way from the back of the ship to the front and down 4 flights of stairs to debark!!!

  8. Edna taylor

    We have taken two RC cruises on the Freedom and we have booked a Loft Suite for 9/11/10 and cannot wait. We love everything about RC, ESPECIALLY, the Flowrider and now we will have TWO to chose from. My only issue with debarkation is that my cruise has to end :( Maybe a little extra time, some nice calipso music while we leave the ship will help keep everyone upbeat because I don’t know about the other passengers, but I could very easily turn around and unpack my bags for another week :)

  9. H. Steele

    Love the title of your blog…. glad to know you like pets and dogs, also! We would like to compliment you and RCCL for the wonderful people you have in your “chain of command”. We would especially like to say how wonderful we feel Anthony Curtis and Robert Taggert are! As are so many others who work in the “Hotel Operations” on your ships…
    As to the embarkation process we feel the pier staff do a wonderful job at the Miami Port… with many challenges, yet still they are professional, friendly and get the job done. The disembarkation process in Miami works very well… most of the time… as you mentioned… you can’t control all the factors. We have had problems at Port Everglades… do think some of the ships have some challenges… both with the execution of on-board systems as well as physical challenges. The new system of allowing a more leisurely debark process should help…. and coffee/refreshments always makes things more pleasant…. in fact that would be nice in the terminals before boarding :-)

  10. Debbie Robinson

    I think a key component of the debarkation process is out of your control. I totally appreciate the extra effort, extended hours, snacks, entertainment diversions that are currently in place (yes-I most definitely noticed as we disembarked on our Mariner cruise), but you can’t control people’s temperament. I find people simply aren’t as agreeable at the end of their vacation and that likely isn’t going to change. Improving the process and offering comforts is great, but once those lines start snaking around corridors, elevators, stairs, etc. it becomes a free for all!! And invariably, 1% of the population will make it extraordinarily unenjoyable for the 99% of those who can manage an inconvenient hour of waiting their turn! (P.S. I’d like to think I’m part of the 99% – keep up the good work)

  11. Alva Medbery

    I truly enjoy RC and have found in the past that they were the best cruise line. I am not so sure of that today. We just returned from a Venice cruise and I found RC a little cheap. They have taken away the little fancy things that made them RC. Candy on the pillow at night and the little things we all took for granted. Selling botttled water when you are checking in at the peir. Shame on you! How could you ever let people think that the water on board is not safe to drink!

  12. cheryl Brawders

    My concern is Embarkation. We have had problems with long lines at both Port Everglades and Vancouver B.C. I feel there needs to be expedited lines for Platinum, Suite guests & above prior to customs not just after. This is where the lines are the longest. While we appreciate the seperate lines afterward it’s before customs that has been horribly long. You keep taking away Diamond Level ammenities how about getting us on quicker…….

  13. Ernest Shepard

    This is our first cruise with RCL. We have cruised on three other lines. Hopefully debarkation will not be a night mare as with the others. Passengers need to be treated as nice leaving as when they came on board. We are looking forward to this being a enjoyable cruise.

  14. Maria

    I just returned from the Nickolodean Cruise on the Mariner of the Seas. I was impressed with the organiazation of the embarkation process until I went to retrieve my 3 pieces of luggage. Only 2 were in the cdesignated colored area. Apparently a patron fell to check their luggage tag and accidently to my luggage. The RCCL staff was very helpful in their attempt to locate my luggage. They attempted to contact the person that left their bag in the waiting area. Luckily I had an identifiable tag on my luggage and was able to describe to an RCCL staff. The staff went outside and by the grace of god spotted my luggage and was able to make the swithc. I would encourage all patrons to check their luggate tags and RCCL staff should encourage this too.

  15. Robert Lorrey

    We love the new disembarkation process. We particularly appreciate being able to stay it our cabin until our group is called.

    I have one request. Please enable the TV’s while we wait in our room so we can watch programming, while simultaneously scrolling information about the current disembarking group (and all previously called groups) across the bottom of the screen.

    I realize your systems may not currently be able to handle this, but please consider it in any future upgrades or new builds.

  16. JinLeeHui

    Thanks for your post and that wonderful blog you are running!

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