Mid 2011 I made the decision to travel with a girl friend and daughter on a cruise for 12 nights through the Greek Isles. Around Croatia my 7 month old little girl decided the cruise seemed like the most appropriate time to cut her first two teeth! Teething woes aside it was a sensational trip and the second time I've been fortunate enough to see part of the world on a cruise ship.
My friend and travelling companion had never experienced the gastronomical delights that cruising has to offer and by the time we got to the fourth course, dessert, each night she was full past her eyelids and always declined the spectacular offerings. Mid cruise Ricky, our waiter whose home country was the Philippines, questioned my friend when it was time to order dessert querying: "Are you sure you want nothing?" "Nothing" she said absolutely resolute. As each dessert for the 7 other people on the table arrived, Ricky cheekily put it down in front of my friend before whisking cheesecake, profiteroles, bomb alaska, ice cream, parfait and more off to their rightful owners.
One more time he asked "Are you sure you want nothing?". "Absolutely" was the reply. With a grin on his face Ricky placed the platter below in front of my friend to uproar and laughter from our table.
This lovely display of wit and charm was just one of many examples of fabulous service mixing with real personality that we experienced during this cruise.
I've eaten at so many extremely formal restaurants where the service has been impeccable but distanced. On this ship I got to know the personality behind so many of the staff and it made the experience so much more full and valuable. We met Ganna a waitress from the Ukraine who, in her home country, was an english professor at a university and yet earned 15 times more per year waitressing on the ship. We met staff from all over the world working away from loved ones and children. My little girl had about 50 or so adopted aunts and uncles who all welcomed her back overjoyed each time we were on their part of the ship. Congratulations to Princess Cruise Line for empowering their staff to be able to relate to the guests on such a real and personal level.
It made me wonder how able my team would feel to be able to convey (when appropriate) their true personalities, history and stories when interacting with our clients. There's a time and place for formal and respectful, but oh boy did personable and real make an impact on me in the Greek Isles.