have you ever had service so wonderful and surprising that instantly all previous service failed in comparison? the kind that makes you struggle hard to believe that anything before this exact moment was service at all? i had that experience just a few weeks ago while on my very first cruise on the Carnival Liberty. believe me, it was service unparalleled. the ship itself was impressive. the staff was equally impressive and they delivered this phenomenal service that has me grinning from ear to ear. i stayed at two very nice Hilton properties during this vacation, and the service was also very exceptional, but it was still unlike the service delivered on the boat. i was in awe and very grateful.
the Carnival Liberty on the left... floating boating fun (docked at modified stop No. 2 ~ Grand Turk Island. home of Margaritaville. <-----this is where you should look FIRST, if a group of us Cruisers come up missing).
first, let me get you some actual factual information about the ship itself:
- 13 passenger decks (several more that are not passenger friendly)
- Specialty restaurant (Harry’s), 2 dining rooms, buffet (prepared fresh for breakfast (including omelet station), lunch (including stir fry station, burger stand, burrito bar and deli) and midnight buffet), ice cream parlor, pizzeria
- Wi-Fi, in-room safe, refrigerator (pssst! there was no refrigerator available in our room, perhaps in one of those bigger rooms with room to spare…?)
- 3 pools (1 indoor), children’s pool, (don’t forget the water SLIDE!)
- Fitness classes, gym, hair salon, 7 hot tubs, sauna, spa, steam room
- 9 bars (i think i visited each one, at least once), casino, dance club, library, showroom, video game room
- Children’s programs (ages 2-17)
- Laundry facilities, laundry service
- Internet terminal
deck nine, the lido deck, (where the party was at), and the home of the water sliiiiiiiiiiiiiide
here is some information that was provided by ship staff:
- 2,929 passengers (on this cruise)
- almost 1,200 staff (including doctors, nurses, security, bar servers, food servers, bartenders, housekeeping, maintenance, chefs, fire department, sales and management)
- the boat extends approximately twenty-seven feet underwater.
- this is the funnel burning exhaust and paper waste:
the funnel... extending high into the sky, above every other accessible part of this humongous floating party
- approximately eight tons of food waste per day (i made sure to clean my plate after i heard that news)
- there are at least fifty-five nationalities of employees on this cruise ship, all born and raised in their native countries and fluent in their native languages, as well as English.
we had a quaint little room. it wasn’t “little” per se, but it was “to the point”. we had a total of three closets, four drawers and two cabinets in which to live from during our seven-day stay. as well, there were two drawers under the couch that made for excellent and adequate shoe storage. the bathroom was also “to the point” but seemed to handle two women in it’s midst without much complaint. we also had a window. a nice sized window, not the round porthole that we most associate with boats, but a window big enough for me to sit in. to sit in and gaze out into the endless world. where the ocean goes for miles and the sky goes for miles and they come together somewhere in the distance.
... where the water meets the sky...
i truly intended on taking a photograph with each staff member that i made a connection with. but as i went through my days and nights, i came in contact with so many that i fell short on photos from day one. either way, i made connections and i would like to share some of the wonderful people that i met.
myself and Tatiana, the spoiled and the spoiler... respectively
Tatiana from Estonia: Tatiana was my formal food server for the Captain’s dinner every night. she was a delight from day one. she spoiled me rotten and i would be a complete liar if i said i didn’t miss her. she knew right away what i liked and didn’t like (because my food tastes are elementary and simple) and she made special requests for me. i have never been so privileged. i enjoy a simple salad with a chunk of bleu cheese and every night, when i arrived to the table, my cheese plate awaited me. when there was no simple salad option on the menu, she still managed to get me one. i tried to leave early on two different occasions but she kept me in my seat by presenting me with the dessert menu and saying “sweet time?” flashing that little twinkle in her eye. we oooh’d and aaaah’d over creme brulee together and each night we gave the dessert menu our own personal review. the last night on the ship, i debated all day over whether or not to go to dinner. i was having fun and getting in my g’byes as i passed fellow cruisers. after some debate, i decided that Tatiana deserved a proper goodbye. she had been so wonderful to me and i didn’t want to leave her that last night without thanking her for her service, advising her supervisor of her wonderful service and ensuring them both that as soon as i had a chance, i would write to Carnival Cruises and tell them about the magnificent service i had received. she was amazing and i will always remember her.
Luis from Mexico & Dokphikun from Thailand: after boarding the ship and attending the mandatory emergency meeting at our assigned location i was completely lost. i could not find my way back to the food so i decided to go to the room and see if our luggage had arrived. after entering the room i was soon greeted by Luis. he wanted to know if there was anything i needed. he was so wonderful and he called me by name. he didn’t attend to me anymore during our trip, but he did work down the hall. he always said good morning, good afternoon and good evening and his response to my asking him “¿como estas?” was always, always “todo bien”. it’s all goooooood.
towels. folded like a frog.
towels. folded like a dog (i think).
just a few moments later i met Dokphikun. she tended to our room and kept us in tip-top shape the rest of the way. she also used my name from the first time through the last time i saw her. i don’t know if this is standard practice, if it was special for our cruise group, if it was because it was on our door (i don’t think that mattered at all) or if it’s just something that she does… either way, it was wonderful. i would often see her in the hall during the morning or evening and she always said “hello Tanisha”. it was music to my ears. and to think, when i was younger, i would cringe at people using my name. i made it my mission to talk to all of those that came to my service, to ask them about them and find out as much as i could. Dokphikun and Luis set the tone and it was delightful.
towels. folded like an elephant. all the handiwork of Dokphikun.
Orlando from India and Ketut from Indonesia: two of the best bar servers ever! these guys were on a mission to keep me well hydrated and very spirited while i spent my days poolside. they ensured that my cup raneth over and over and over. always serving with a smile and calling me “Neesha” (say whaaaat? seriously? seriously. like we’d known each other for years) when they requested my signature. i know that we shared several hi-fives, a few knuckle bumps and at least one hug each. i know that at one occasion i waved my hand in the air, blindly, and within a few minutes Orlando came to my rescue asking me “you needing something ma’am?” hell-to-the-yeah!! that’s what i call service, sir. great guys, both of them.
Joseph from Thailand: the bartender that i had the most one-on-one contact with. when i approached the bar, i greeted Joseph by name and asked him how his day was going. he served me next and always asked me to try my drink and make sure it was to my liking. he’s my kinda bartender. 😀 he cared that i was satisfied and wanted to make sure that he had met my expectations. that’s certainly a way to ensure repeat business if you ask me.
Eliana from Romania(?): how rude, right? i don’t remember exactly where Eliana was from but she was my bar server at dinner. she was tall and elegant. her accent was gorgeous and made “may i bringck you sumzing from zee bahr?” sound like “how many carats do you want in your diamond ring?” i’m not sure if i ordered from her because i wanted a drink (bahahaha) or if i just wanted to hear her repeat everything (moh-heet-toe or jhin-jher hale or nuh-sing?). she was equally as personable and pleasant as the rest of her service team.
Kristian from Hungary: Kristian came to deliver a wheelchair. unfortunately while on vacation, my aunt suffered an injury. when exiting onto the Lido deck she fell into a unmarked drainage hole and severely sprained her ankle. she had to get x-rays and e’rythang. sad. the next day we docked in Key West Florida. we didn’t get off the boat until late, but we still went ashore and tried to find the ultimate Key Lime Pie and a little something to bring home. in order to do so, we needed a wheelchair. Kristian was the gentleman that delivered the chair to our room. he was very happy, very helpful and very handsome (hubba hubba). he was upset to learn the nature of the accident and expressed his concern. we used the chair to eventually make it off the boat and onto land. it was probably eighty-something degrees but it was also eighty percent humidity. i don’t know the actual numbers but it was horrible sticky madness. i was elated to find a mini-mall with air conditioning, a liquor store with Monster and even more elated to get back onto the air conditioned boat.
sadly, i do not know the names of two of my regulars: the gentlemen who served me daily an egg-white omelet with peppers and cheese and my staple “veggie burger with cheese ma’am?”. they were both at a distance and reading their name tags sufficed to be a challenge. they worked two of the busiest stations and trying to converse with them just held up the line and got us both dirty looks. both men were polite, helpful and happy. it was a common thread throughout the entire staff. it was simply beautiful to see and made my vacation a little more vacation-y.
and last, but definitely not least on my list is Jayash and Lany, both from India: both worked in security. i came upon Jayash quietly surveying the happy dancing crowd on the night of the Mardi Gras Cool White Night Party. such a large crowd in close quarters makes me a little uneasy. i chose to cruise around up top where i could see everyone, but also enjoy the ocean breeze and gaze at the stars.
up top, near the dj booth... and away from the body heat
i started here, on the dj side, and made my way around to the forward side. people were filling up each level as they arrived from dinner and it got more and more crowded. it was my first white party also, so it was quite interesting to see an entire boat full of people ~ all dressed in white. and dancing. once i made my round around the top i came down i landed next to Jayash. he was quietly examining the crowd.
the party from Jayash's point of view...
i asked him a few questions that led to so many answers. it was great. he took me on a tour and i felt so much more comfortable… at sea. we had good conversation. i shared my fear of cruising and plans to become a big-name published writer and he shared his daily at-sea routine and his plans for a future together with his girlfriend. after our introduction, i would see him throughout the days and nights. i introduced him to the other ladies in my party and anyone i happened to be loitering around with when i saw him. he was very attentive and kind.
Lany was also very kind. he would often wave and say “good evening ma’am” as i usually saw him around dinnertime. he wore a very genuine smile and was chivalrous, opening doors and bowing slightly as he saw me in and out. on our last day, we had checked our luggage and were supposed to meet in an early group. due to cane return and wheelchair complications, we were singled out and blasted over the intercom as we were late. when i finally made it to the right area, Lany was there and he said “you! we’re waiting on you?” he shuffled me this way and that and shook my hand as he said “goodbye ma’am, it was a pleasure to meet you”. i told him that i would write about him, made him write down the blog address and told him to say goodbye to Jayash for me as i had not seen him since early in the day before. he nodded and said “my pleasure ma’am”.
the ship sufficed as more than a home away from home. and the outstanding staff and exceptional service definitely made my vacation experience something to write about. i was thoroughly impressed from start to finish. my only hope is that the other passengers and guests recognized it in the same way i did. i found this to be one of the most memorable and touching vacations i have thus experienced. i will hold all levels of service next to this one and hold my expectations high. i have been spoiled by the Carnival Liberty crew and i don’t think i’ll ever settle for less. i am writing that letter, i am singling each and every one out for their good deeds and outstanding service as a whole. they have made a friend, a fan and a sailor out of me.
share your exceptional service experiences with me. did you tell that person that they had provided you with outstanding service? did you tell their superior or write a commendation to their management? tell me what you think great service is. until next time, when we return for part three ~ the cruuuuiiise… stay sweet, darlings!