Sea ViewsFrom President and COO, Adam Goldstein

Sea Views Blog with Adam Goldstein

Why the Style of Customer Feedback is Important

You can imagine I receive a fair amount of correspondence by letter and email.  Our guests like to write about their cruises.  Sometimes they tell me how great everything was.  Sometimes they tell me about their issues.  In the latter case, our customer service team works with the ships and various shoreside areas to investigate the issues and respond to the writer as quickly as we can.

There are many styles of correspondence when it comes to guests informing us of issues they have had.  Sometimes the writer gives compliments where he/she believes they are due, either before or after detailing the problems that have precipitated the letter/email.  Sometimes the writer appears to believe the longer the letter the better chance of making an impression on us.  Some writers get right to the point: problem statement, requested remedy, goodbye.  Some writers make it clear they will return to us no matter what.  Others make it equally clear they will never sail with us again.  Some letters are statements of opinion about culinary, entertainment, shore excursions, etc.  Some are pinpointing very specific service or other failures that they want fixed or at least recognized.  Because our cruises mean so much to our guests, we read the gamut of human emotions and reactions.  It is these comments and reactions that help us understand what we are doing right as a brand or where we have opportunities to review certain aspects of our product.

At the end of the day, we understand how all of our guests look forward to their vacation and how emotional a vacation can be.  Our shipboard and shoreside staff works hard to provide the best product and service possible – and on the rare occasion that something does go wrong, they do their best to assist and allow us to learn from what transpired.

It’s rare that we encounter rude or boorish sentiments from our guests, but it happens from time to time.  When it does happen, I am occasionally unable to restrain myself from commenting, as I know all of the effort that goes into assisting our guests.  For example, earlier this week, in an email to one of my top customer relations colleagues, the writer stated “Mark Twain said it best, “You never argue with an idiot.  They’ll bring you down to their level and they’ll beat you with years of experience.”  All my colleague wanted to do was help with a situation that was complicated on the guest’s side, not because of anything we had done.  I advised the guest that I was not enamored with the sentiment expressed towards my colleague and that we would not take further action on the matter.  Some readers may view this as a violation of the principle that the customer is always right, but in my view when a guest crosses a certain line either in writing or on the phone I will back up my colleague.  I’m curious to hear the readers’ views on this.

16 responses to:
“Why the Style of Customer Feedback is Important”

  1. Robin

    I have cruised with Royal Caribbean twice before and loved it! Both times we left from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My question is … does Royal Caribbean have any cruises leaving from Charleston, SC?

    • Adam

      Hi Robin – We’re glad you’ve enjoyed your cruises with us. We don’t currently have any sailings from Charleston, but we’ll keep it in mind for future departure ports.

  2. Camille

    Adam… I have been on both sides of this…the good side and the horrible side…I have acted ornery and I have given praise to your crew for putting up with the good and the bad side of me… but when the cruise is over I can’t wait till I can take another cruise on Royal Caribbean ….thanks for putting up with me……

  3. Ken Houston

    Bravo! I have always found that the best bosses are the ones that stand up for their employees. Just because a customer has a concern it does not give them the right to abuse and take advantage of the employees that are there trying to help them.

  4. Julia

    The level of customer service in the States is actually above and beyond better compared to other parts of the world – and this happens to be because ‘ the customer is always right’ is an idea and ‘philosophy’ which has been around for quite some time in the service industries here. This is not to say that customer service across the board is always stellar, but leaning towards the customer’s favor is generally an acceptable sentiment in these industries.

    What happens sometimes is that customers end up thinking of themselves as consumers – especially those who cruise a lot and start to believe that their ‘status’ owes them certain levels of service and recognition above what is normally provided. This kind of consumer mindset takes the ‘human’ out of the person.

    So, it’s important that customers realize if a representative is willing to help resolve issues – particularly lengthy complicated ones – then they also have a responsibility to respond courteously and professionally. If the CEO gets involved, then it goes without saying that being unprofessional and ‘boorish’ is just pure idiocy. And the writer himself advised to never argue with idiots.

    • Cameron M.

      Adam, I think you handled this exactly right. I used to work in retail management and frequently had to handle these types of situations. I personally don’t subscribe to the philosophy that the customer is always right. In fact more often than not they are wrong! However, I always taught my employees that even if a customer isn’t right, the customer still knows what it is that they want. It is up to the employee to do everything reasonable in their power to help the customer get want they want resolution wise.

      If/When customers crossed the line with an employee, my employees knew I would have their back and my bosses had my back!

  5. Tom

    Adam: As we all know there are people in this world that you will never be able to satisfy. I think a line is crossed when a person becomes rude or abusive towards shipboard crew or shore side staff. At that point of time I think it is important for management to stick up for their staff, whether it be the CEO, the Captain or a Hotel Director. I have been on 30 cruises on the line and some have been better then others. However, when I have had a constructive comment to make about something that wasn’t right, I have always appreciated the level of effort and professionalism that goes into addressing my comment, both from shipboard management and corporate staff including your office.

    While I find myself sailing Celebrity more these days, due to their more restrictive smoking policy, RCCL’s customer service is one of the reasons that I have not strayed from the RCCL corporate family of lines.

  6. Grace

    Often in the rabid race for the Almighty dollar, the human element gets tossed out the window. This is just a reminder that people often forget that the voice on the other end of the phone (or email) is indeed a human who is doing their best to earn a living. It is empowering when someone in the high positions remembers this and even speaks up against what amounts to bullying. Thank you, sir. And may the business world take note. Maybe there should be a new motto, “We charge extra for abuse.” Have a great day.

  7. Celeste B


    Supporting your co-workers and staff is the most important action you can take as a supervisor. Bravo!! Rude and abusive behavior is unacceptable even from a customer. Coming from 20+ years in retail you always want to be the hero and exceed your customers expectations. This is who we are…. It’s unfortunate in these times that people feel this is the only way to get their point across or get their way. Feeding into this behavior only validates it instead of correcting it. Thank you for being part of the solution!

    We travel frequently on the Explorer. Will the Quantum have some of the same crew? We would love to continue to see our RC family!



  8. George

    Dear Adam, I believe the quote from Mark Twain “You never argue with an idiot. They’ll bring you down to their level and they’ll beat you with years of experience.” is totally appropriate. However it has been my experience that Royal Caribbean customer relations never try to lower themselves to that level. They always attempt to pull the complainer up and be reasonable in attaining a solution to the problem. Thanks for all that each and every one of the Royal Caribbean crew members do each day.

  9. Michael

    Dear Adam,

    I admire you standing up for your colleague. By doing so, you demonstrated the highest form of leadership…caring for your those you lead. I think it is fantastic and highly admirable. Once a guest crosses the line, they no longer reserve the right to be listened to in a respectful manner. Bravo Adam. By the way, my wife and I took our first and only cruise on your ship Allure of the Seas two years ago. WOW is right! Can you please position Oasis 3 at Port Canaveral? A completely selfish question, but I just thought I would ask.

  10. Mary

    What you say is sometimes not as important as how you say it. My very recent trip aboard RCI Freedom of the Seas bears witness to this. Although none of the statements I was the recipient of except one were rude in word, I found the attitude they were delivered with to be extremely belligerent. When I asked for a supervisor rather than argue with an attendant, she excused the actions of the attendant saying he was a nice guy. Perhaps you missed an opportunity by using diplomacy to understand a deeper issue with your cruise line. Or perhaps not. Maybe the attitudes I encountered are a direct result of a management style that refuses to see the bad. I had to be careful how I phrased this reply because from what I understand, if my comments are not deemed appropriate you won’t hear them.

  11. winston liew

    Hi Adam,
    I was on the Mariner of the Seas (Singapore -Phuket-Singapore from 25th to 29th Nov 2013. Grand Suite 1574 and Balcony 1366). This is the family’s 1st Royal Carribean cruise vacation. I would like to say that it was an almost perfect holiday. All the crew and staff put in a herculean effort to ensure we had a good time. In any vacation it is the pple that makes the difference and the staff of the Mariner of the Seas must be commended to have made the difference to us.

    The housekeepers and waiters/waitresses went all out to ensure tt all our needs were satisfied and the sincerety of service certainly showed. Pls extend our sincere thx to all concerned.

    The near perfect holiday was however marred by the our disembarkation experience.

    Let me elaborate. On our last evening on the Mariner, we had celebrated my sons birthday at the fine Italian restaurant, Giovanni. A birthday cake was purchased (thro Giovanni for US$15) for the occasion. Unfortunately the meal was so substantial it was impossible to have the cake. We thus decided to take away the cake to be consumed when we return home. However at the the point of disembarkation, we were stopped by an officer who insisted tt we could not take the cake with us. I ask for an explanation , and he said tt Singapore Custom Laws forbid importation of food items. Not knowing any better my son gave up the cake reluctantly to the officer concerned.

    Returning home i did a bit of checking with singapore custom and have found out tt small low value food item (including cakes) is allowed. Of course i am abit annoyed tt my son has been disappointed for spurious reasons.

    It is definitely unfortunate that the effort of so many on the Mariner had been compromised by the action of one over zealous officer. I hope you would look into this issue and look fwd to sailing with Royal Carribean soon.

  12. Reeshma & Sanjay

    Hi Adam,

    My husband and I have been reading some of your blogs and we came across this one about consumer complaints. (We searched for a way to contact you directly and we hope this is it!) We just completed a letter we would like you to read regarding our experience with the Royal Romance Department. Yes, our letter has a lot of detail, however, we felt it was necessary to provide you with adequate information on our experience for our wedding.

    How can I ensure that this letter will reach you?

    Our cruise departed on March 10th, 2014 from the port of Miami, Florida.

    Hope to hear from you in the very near future.

    Warm regards,

    Reeshma & Sanjay

    P: 416.559.6515 or 416.994.5887

    • Royal Caribbean International

      Hi Reeshma & Sanjay,

      Please contact us at so that we can help.

  13. Jane

    Hi Adam

    Whilst I agree with the sentiment in your post, your own website and booking staff have a long way to go in my view. I’ve encountered a payment discrepancy error in my booking twice so far. Both times it was an error at your end. On the second occasion, the agent on the line refused to accept it as an error and was quite difficult, arrogant and unhelpful. His supervisor did not want to come on the line but he was told to investigate and call back. He didn’t call back in the agreed time but had resolved the error in your system. To top it all off another agent told me that I wouldn’t be able to complete as they were too busy to update the system (she said it would be 4 days or so).

    It’s quite telling that the main hit on Google for “Royal Caribbean customer complaints” returns this post, the second hit is the contact details for the area that is causing the problem. I have filled in the contact form (shown in a link in an earlier comment) and I received a response telling me you would be in touch within 30 days!! Not exactly an ideal response for a complaint, even worse considering it relates to a cruise that starts in 31 days.

    It’s not a perfect world but my experience is that your company has a clumsy system, and is generally inaccessible and has a poor attitude as far as complaints go. If that carries through to other areas then I can see why customers, who fork out huge sums of money, might get a little angry.

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