Guest Post: Kicking Off Royal Caribbean's 2010 Anchored in Excellence Visits

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Delegation is the key to life. Well, maybe not all of life (especially since traveling light is also a key to life and not to mention “Happy Wife Happy Life”) but at least it is a key to keeping a blog going. I enjoyed delegating this space to Lisa during the crossing of Oasis of the Seas so much that I have been missing her entries ever since. Obviously the attention to Haiti in the last month has made everything else a moot point but now I would like to move forward with “Fridays with Lisa.” I don’t want to give her a heart attack so I’m not insisting on every Friday. But hopefully most Fridays she will chip in with her observations about some aspect of the wide and wonderful world of Hotel Operations at Royal Caribbean International.

Today, Lisa will be talking about her AIE visit. During the course of the year our top operations executives visit every ship in the fleet, as Lisa describes below. Although I do not do these visits myself anymore, I regard the 10 + years of Anchored in Excellence (AIE) program and my own 117 AIE ship visits as true highlights. I congratulate Lisa Bauer and Bill Wright for continuing to enhance AIE.

AIE 2010 Kick-off

Lisa Bauer - Senior VP, Hotel Operations

Lisa Bauer - Senior VP, Hotel Operations

A few weeks ago I spent a week in Brazil where we officially kicked off the Anchored in Excellence (AIE) visits for the year. We were able to spend time sailing with both Vision of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas, and as a bonus, we were also able to visit our office in Brazil.

AIE is a program where we visit each ship in the fleet, and meet with the shipboard Executive Committee, attend both hotel and marine departmental meetings, host an all crew session, as well as invite any crew member to come see us for any 1:1 topics they would like to discuss. When sailing with the ship, we also have the ability to see how guests are enjoying the ship, as well as how our crew is interacting with our guests. A personal highlight for me from this trip was a dinner hosted by Captain Tommy on the Splendour of the Seas where they served all local Brazilian dishes.

What we experienced on both of these ships was fantastic. The camaraderie between the hotel and marine teams is excellent, and the teamwork is great to see. Both ships are sailing with over 98% Brazilians, and while the ships have the core Royal Caribbean product offering, they have been able to add local elements of customization to really bring in the Brazilian culture. This includes everything from a “Carnival” production show with lots of feathers, to BBQ’s on the pool deck, to many Portuguese speaking crew. The Brazilian crew members are also very engaging and really deliver the Wow.

You can’t just take my word for the fact that the ships are doing great. We measure all the ships in the fleet against each other and their targets with ratings on a balanced scorecard. Splendour of the Seas finished 2009 as the number one ship in the fleet, and this includes everything from guest satisfaction, to Ship Overall Appearance, meeting their budgets and revenue targets, employee satisfaction and workplace safety. I’m personally thrilled to see a ship from the late 90’s leading the way! It really does reinforce the importance of leadership, focus on the guest, and getting the product right for the market. Our Brazilian office has really been instrumental in helping us adapt to the local market.

  • Leonard Hoyt

    Can you post a list of all of Royal Caribbean ships showing there AIE 2010 Kick-off standings.
    We have sailed twice on Grandier Of The Seas, once on Explorer Of The Seas and will be sailng to New England on the Enchantment Of The Seas in September 2010.
    We wuld be interested in these ships standing in the list of ships. I am sure that other people who sailed on your other ships would be interested in there standing.
    If you havn’t been to all of the ships in 2010 how about 2009.
    If this is a on gong hing then it would be nice for us to see the ships standing at the end of each year.
    Leonard & Kathy Hoyt

  • Monica Hegmann

    I am encouraged to hear how concerned the upper-management at Royal Caribbean is with ensuring excellent customer service. Unfortunately, my experience with Royal Caribbean on our cruise just last week (Feb. 7 – 14th, 2010)was the WORST vacation experience I have ever had:

    My family of 6 was booked for a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise on the “Freedom of the Seas”, departing from Port Canaveral. It was the very first time we had ever visited the Caribbean, and the very first time we had ever been on a cruise – and we were so excited!!

    Unfortunately, early in the morning on the day we were set to embark, my youngest son, Mikey (aged 9), had a bout of stomach flu. It was blessedly short-lived, and by 10 am, he was peacefully sleeping it off, so we continued with our plans.

    When we got to the terminal that afternoon, we checked our baggage and my husband left to return the rental car as we proceeded through the check-in process.

    As we waited in a long line, we were handed a quick medical questionnaire asking if anyone in our group had had symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea in the past 48 hours. I answered honestly.

    When we finally got to the check-in counter, the clerk, on seeing my answer, looked concerned and quickly ushered into an office where the ship’s doctor was sitting behind a desk.

    He took one look at the medical questionnaire and said: “This is not good. He (Mikey) cannot go on.”

    I was stunned, not knowing what to say, so the check-in clerk answered for me, saying “But he’s fine now, and his father is a doctor.”

    The ship’s doctor replied: “It does not matter. The boy is still sick. He cannot go on.”

    Still in shock, we were ushered back to the check-in counter, where I was told that Mikey would not be permitted on the ship until I had a doctor’s certificate stating that he had been symptom-free for 48 hours and was now fit to travel. However, because of the ship’s itinerary, the soonest I could re-join the ship would be on Wednesday, in Jamaica.

    At this point, my husband finally re-appeared. He was quickly filled in on the situation, and we made a snap decision that he would continue on with our other three children, and I would stay back with Mikey until things could be sorted out.

    After they left, a call was put in to retrieve our luggage, and I was directed to a row of chairs to wait. I was also given a 1-800 number for Royal Caribbean’s “Customer Care”, if I had any further questions.

    While I waited, not knowing what to do, or where to go from there, I called the “Customer Care” number and explained our situation. I asked them if they could help me sort things out.

    They said no, they could not. It was not their problem.

    I asked if they could at least help me find a hotel where we could stay for the night.

    They said no, they could not.

    I asked if I could at least have our money refunded for the part of the cruise that we missed, so that I could pay for our hotel.

    They said no, they didn’t do that.

    I waited until the last passenger was processed and we were the only ones left, not knowing what else to do, when I was approached by one of the check-in clerks and asked to vacate the terminal, as they were shutting it down.

    She said I could continue to wait outside for another hour, but, if our luggage was not found by then, it would be too late and I wouldn’t get it at all.

    I could not believe what I was hearing. How much worse could this get?

    All I could answer was a feeble, “But it’s cold outside, and my son is tired.” (Outside, it was 52 degrees and windy and we were wearing light sweatshirts.)

    The clerk seemed to re-consider and said, “Look, forget about your luggage, you probably won’t get it anyway. The bus that brought passengers from the airport is about to return, you can hitch a ride with him.”

    And so, as the rest of my family was about to set sail on our very first cruise, Mikey and I were headed back to the airport on an empty bus.

    Lost, frightened and alone, completely abandoned by Royal Caribbean. No luggage, no place to stay, no way to get to Jamaica, and no idea how to find our cruise once we got there. Our dreams of a carefree vacation were ruined.

    I was trying really hard not to cry.

    If you would like to hear the rest or our ordeal, please feel free to contact me.

    Thanks for listening.

    Sincerely,

    Monica Hegmann
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

    Epilogue:
    The same week that we were to sail, Disney’s “Magic” ship was delayed in port at Castaway Cay for one day due to high winds. All passengers on that sailing were given free phone calls and a 20% discount on future sailings, while all passengers who were set to embark on the next cruise received free Epcot tickets for the day they had to wait, free hotel rooms overnight, $20 for meals, $100 in onboard credits per cabin, and a 20% refund of their fares, or the option of cancelling without penalty.

  • Arvids Ernstsons

    My wife and I have sailed on 10 RCCL ships and this year we are sailing on 3 different ships that we have never sailed on. Every ship we have sailed on has given the WOW experience each time. Of the 10 ships we have sailed we have done some of them more than once because of the experience that we encountered the first time. In less than 50 days we are trying out the Adventure for the first time and then in September we will be on the Monarch. And to complete the year we will be on the Oasis. Next year we want to try something different so we are looking at Celebrity. Not switching lines just want to see Royals other brands.

    We want to thank RCCL for showing us a new way to enjoy our lives. And at the same time introducing us to a fantastic way to see the world. And it all started with a WOW on the Majesty.

  • JOdy vance

    I think Keith Colburn is an unpleasant fellow, making a point of insulting the greenhorn Josh in the conversation about hiring Russ. He has also been extremely rough with this brother. I am sorry to hear you are sponsoring a cruise with him.

  • Nicole C

    Can I just say, I looooooooooove RCCL. I have taken 4 cruises and loved them all. The level of service is excellent and I felt like I was a “special” guest. I travelled on one of your competitors recently, “The Fun Ship”, and nothing can compare. RCCL in my opinion won hands down. I sort of a RCCL snob:) I would love to go on Oasis, but need to save up a little more to do that. But I can’t wait. Keep up the good work RCCL.

  • stephanie

    Sorry the date above should be january 3, 2010