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Guest Post: Royal Caribbean Dining Room Service

Lisa Bauer - Senior VP, Hotel Operations

Lisa Bauer - Senior VP, Hotel Operations

We have a healthy competition between our stateroom attendants and our dining room wait staff for who can deliver the best guest satisfaction ratings. It is always very close, and we know that the level of engagement our guests get from their wait staff is very important to our guests.

Last year we had a few challenges to our dining room service. We had almost the entire Oasis start up team come from existing ships, so we had to back fill the open positions with mostly new hires across the fleet. Because our Food & Beverage team is the largest onboard, the influx of so many new hires had an impact on our service until the new staff got into the routine onboard.

We also introduced a new program that was specifically put in place to increase service levels in the dining room by having the wait staff take drink orders. While this worked well on some ships, on other ships, we didn’t have the right numbers of bar stations, or proper technology to make it easy for the wait staff to be efficient. As a result, we went back to basics and are reworking all the processes to ensure that when we continue to implement this program, we’ve given the crew the correct resources and processes to be successful.

We’ve recently launched a fleetwide “We Service Incredible” contest to the dining room staff to have an increase in training and focus on really delivering the wow in the dining room. In addition, we also have put into place new timing and training so that when we staff Allure, it doesn’t have the same impact across the fleet.

Early results on the “We Serve Incredible” contest are encouraging, as our guests’ ratings are up and the race between housekeeping and dining room service continues!

8 responses to:
“Guest Post: Royal Caribbean Dining Room Service”

  1. Janet Pushee

    Just booked another cruise on the Oasis for January 08/11. I am so excited for the new cruise as I was for the 1st one Jan. 22/10 on the Oasis. The service was excellent on my first cruise.

  2. ROGER nELSON

    Just returned from Freedom cruise Mar 7-14. While we picked up on the process issues in the dining room (we did MY time w’another couple), staff did their best to accomodate and comped a round of drinks. We love RCCL and are glad to see you take ownership for process inefficiencies, and support your staff! That makes us even more committed to your cruise line. Good leadership!

  3. Tom Bryant

    We have always had incredible service in the MDR. What’s been amazing is that when we return to the same ship (Mariner 4 times) the staff still remembers us. Your training pays off.

  4. Steve

    I have issue at all with the service in the dining room. The issue that I have is the cutbacks that continue to happen aboard Royal Caribbean when it comes to quality and selection of food. It continues to deteriorate compare to your competition. Either raise the price of the cruise to cover the cost of quality food or be up front and let everyone know that Royal Caribbean has decided to serve cafeteria quality food.

  5. Elizabeth Linnie

    On Oasis Labadee & Inaugural sailings we had the best waiter ever,his name is Bongay. I swear he could read my mind with regard to what I would like or not like to eat. Totally amazing.

    When we heard he was going to Allure as part of the start up team that was when we decided to book Allure Inaugural & now the Dec 1st sailing also.
    I really hope we can have him as our waiter again on Allure in December. Bongay is the first waiter we have had that made such an impression on my 20 yr old son that he was happy to go to the MDR every night.

    Well done RCCL on your training.

  6. Harold Harrison

    On March 20th, 2010 we sailed the Independence of the seas for our 30th anniversary and our 1st diamond member cruise and our 1st ever balcony cabin. The dining room service was the worse experience we have ever incurred sailing RCCL ships. I booked our cruise with our 30th wedding anniversary noted in the reservation. The waitstaff hardly ever smiled and looked like they were always in despair just to get everyone served. Waiting 1 hour for appetizers, waiting constantly for iced tea refills…etc. We were never even acknowledged for our anniversary and after 2 nights in the dining room we skipped the 3rd night & ate in the windjammer. the 4th night of 8, we said we would try again to eat in the dining room and it only got worse. We skipped dessert and told the head waiter on the way out we were unsatisfied. He told us he would arrange for us to be moved to another table for the future. We were so embarrased being offered to be moved instead of serving us better. The next night we ate in windjammer and I talked with the head guy there and told them our issues in the dining room and finally something happened as we got strawberries delivered to our cabin by our head waiter apologizing and an anniversary cake the next night. This was our 1st diamond cruise and the total experience was as if we were nothing else other than a number instead of a valued guest. My tuxedo pkg. I had pre-ordered was old and the shirts were all yellowed around the collars and one shirt had a half doller size old stain on it. The check in process room at Fort Lauderdale was a large one with little window booths with #’s on each one. I asked one lady with an RCCL badge on where priority check in was and she answered rudely that we have to keep the line moving and check in at any window.
    I looked for the priority check in and never found it until after we just walked up to one of the regular windows after about 20 minutes, checked in with a person that seemed to be his 1st day. We then walked the long room and finally seen the priority window way down @ the end of the room.
    Each night the dining room menu selection was worse.

    We were excited about being able to have access to the diamond lounge in the evenings for drinks and snacks. We went there and they set it up in the smallest room where there was standing room only and it would take 1 hour to actually get a drink after asking 2-3 times and they never offered to pull up visible empty chairs just outside the next door for us to be able to set down. 2 visits were formal nights and we couldnt set outside because the wind would destroy our formal night appearance. We recieved a notice in our cabin to come to the diamond lounge to pick up ice show tickets and went and the unsmiling lady gave us tickets for the 5pm show–the same day/time as the welcome back party and we came back & made here aware of it and she replied that she didnt have anymore tickets and replied that she didnt know we would be at the repeaters partyat that time. She doesnt ned to be anywhere near a diamond member or even a 1st time cruiser. She would fit maybe in the dish washer room in the galley. We are very unhappy and deserve credit from this cruise. There were so many negatives, i havent mentioned all of them but the GOLD ANCHOR service we are supposed to recieve never happened. The captain never even attended the repeaters party. Instead, someone else gave us a speach about the RCCL ships and where their going and that most will be overseas now. That comment really made everyone in the room feel like RCCL was doing us a favor with the very few ships here in the U.S.
    If this is the way its going to be because our economy is not as good as it once was, RCCL can also move their Florida corporate offices overseas too.
    Most of my complaints were documented on this cruise to ship personel. Our original dining table was number 360. After this cruise we understand what we were reading on the cruisecritic.com site before the cruise. At this point, I am not sure if we will cruise rccl again, which is sad, all the cruises that we tried to stay loyal to reaching diamond status and now seeing all the perks taken away.

  7. Carol Smith

    We have taken four cruises on three different classes of ship and we have never had a bad dining experience. Cruise lines have always strived to make the evening meal in the main dining room come as close as possible to being real dinner party. And dinner parties, like other social occasions, have certain customs and rules of etiquette.

    RCCL asks us to dress appropriately, arrive on time, and allow two hours for the meal. In return we are offered a range of food that has been properly prepared and is served in a festive, appetizing manner. It is also served at a pace that allows us to chat and become acquainted with our table mates. When you gather a collection of people whose only original connection is that they are on the same cruise ship and speak the same language, amazing, wonderful conversations ensue.

    The portions are appropriately sized for those of us who need to watch our fat or calorie intake. Even the deserts are offered in portions that allow a guilt-free indulgence. On our last cruise, one table-mate, a real athletic type, ordered two different appetizers every evening. One night, he ordered two entrees. Occasionally, other table mates would give in and order two desserts. Everything anyone requested was cheerfully served and enthusiastically devoured. No chance of going hungry on a cruise ship.

    The food is prepared to taste like real food, not the fatty, salty chain-food fare we are so accustomed to on dry land. For those who live for spicy food, there is always something on the menu. But at no time could any of the food served be mistaken for something that would be placed in a paper bag (along with a straw, two paper napkins, and packets of salt, pepper and catsup) and passed through the drive-up window.

    Lastly, I really can’t comment personally on the formal night lobster, as I have just don’t care for lobster. So, alas, I have to be content with one of the other half-dozen or so offerings on the evening’s menu. However, I can share another passenger’s analysis. “The lobster isn’t as good as what you would find in a sea shanty restaurant in Maine, but this isn’t Maine.” The lobster on the ship is probably an anachronism, but some people still expect it and the cruise line tries to accommodate.

  8. Greg Miller

    Just returned from a 7-night Southern Caribbean cruise on Adventure of the Seas. The crew was awesome. Absolutely everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful. Most of all, our waiter, Elizabeth from the Phillipines was incredible. You really should have her train others or give her some type of promotion. She’s been with RCCL for 6 years, I believe, and it shows. Don’t let her slip away…give her whatever it takes to keep her. Crew like Elizabeth are the reason we keep coming back. That and the beautiful ports.

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