POSTED BY: Mary Helow

What can hotels learn from cruise ships?

19th Jul, 2018

What can hotels learn from cruise ships?

While I understand it’s not for everyone, I have to admit that cruises have come a long way in the past 30 years. My first trip was to the Caribbean at 13 and the only activity for a kid my age was a tiny box room with a few arcade games thrown in (granted I was a complete Galaga and Donkey Kong addict so no complaints there).

Fast forward 30+ years – I have just returned from a week on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas with 15 relatives ranging from 5-75 years old and let me tell you…this floating city catered to everyone. Not only did they provide non-stop activities for a myriad of hobbies and tastes, but they also executed them flawlessly. Keeping 5,000 guests satisfied for 7 days is no mean feat. A full size merry-go-round and kids club from 10am-2am means children have fun while mom and dad go to the comedy club, have a 5 course dinner at Chef’s Table or catch a show.

But there are certain things experienced ‘cruisers‘ expect and customer service rates at the top. More than 70% of cruisers are returning guests (90% polled by Royal Caribbean in 2017 said they intended to cruise again within 12 months) and getting the right customer experience ensures they return to your cruise line and often the same ship. These service providers take reviews very seriously and guests rate various levels of service and give special recognition to staff members that exceeded expectation. They reward well and use these reviews to plot career advancement programmes.

No detail is too small to be overlooked. You get a coffee at Starbucks one morning and they remember your order for the balance of the trip. The cabins are cleaned twice a day, every day by a steward who starts to feel like family (Renaldo has 4 kids in the Philippines, one the spitting image of my own daughter). He even leaves a different towel creature on your bed during the turn-down service.

The ship is so meticulously clean you can eat off the floor (not that you would). In fact the food is spectacular, with daily changing menus and extensive specialty food & beverages outlets, so you’re guaranteed to return with a few extra holiday pounds (thanks for that).

I didn’t have to lift a finger and everything I explored, consumed, shared, indulged and experienced was second to none. Royal Caribbean truly understands – and more importantly, ingrains in their staff – how to put the guest first to ensure they come again. Just ask my mom…she’s been on 22 so far.

Interestingly, most liners offer ‘Next Cruise’ services on the ship that offer discounts for future bookings. Reduced deposits, on-board credits and discounted ticket prices encourage repeat bookings before you’ve even set foot back on land.

Hotels could learn a thing two from cruise services in relation to customer engagement and premium service. Who knew?


Mary Helow, Senior Account Director

Mary called San Francisco home until 2005 but prefers the cobblestone streets of Dublin. Her loves are understanding what makes a brand tick, Star Trek (Captain Kirk is king, she says) and any type of Mexican food she can get her hands on.