Training to Read Minds on a Cruise Ship

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    A while ago I wrote an article about “reading minds” for this blog site. Now, of course, you and I know, we can’t really read minds, but we can be observant and notice when someone needs assistance–that would especially be true of the hospitality or travel vacation businesses where customer service most definitely is its business.

    It seems every time I go on vacation I come home with another horror story about how no one seemed to notice when they should until someone was angry or distressed enough to point out the obvious to them–them being the people serving us the customer.

    It’s a matter for training because being aware of these things is at the heart of doing a good job in hospitality, or in this case, moderate luxury travel vacation. If the vacationer has to worry about taking care of someone else or has to worry about his or her own special needs and has made preparation for them, it’s hardly a vacation if the cruise line isn’t doing its part.

    “Reading minds” (read ‘be terribly observant’) should at the heart of the cruise line training for its staff that comes in contact with passengers; I realize that many do not, but for those that do, it is essential

    Since I’ve already talked about airline and security customer service, I’ll skip that story and begin with the ship embarcation center. My family and I have gotten into the habit, as many American’s do, of taking a cruise as the family vacation when the kids get a week-long break in November.

    Reading minds (otherwise known as being observant and making a good impression) begins the minute we leave our transportion to the port or you could even say before then, but I’ll start at the port.

    We were bombasted with offers to deal with our bags before we could hardly catch our breath, while no one offered to help my 84 year-old mother-in-law out of the vehicle into a wheelchair when they saw her struggling to move to get out of the van into her walker. Security was clueless. Nobody in a walker ever takes a cruise… Ever cruise with Holland America, which seems geared for seniors? In fact, no help was offered to Mom until we asked for it, and we were ordered, yes “ordered” to have her sit by herself in one location; we were even told to stay away from her–that this woman would take care of her. The woman later apologized she had gotten so busy she had forgotten her.

    Once on the ship. It didn’t get any better. Call it first day confusion if you want to, but I still think people should be most aware on the first and everyday, as well as have people on the look out for these situations of special needs; not only does it make a good impression, it speeds the process along. They shouldn’t wait for a special request.

    We did have a special diet request that we had made and confirmed by our travel agent via e-mail. When we arrived on ship, that request seemed to have vanished, but in all fairness, the ship did make it up.

    It did get a little better over time, mostly because we began asking, as did Mom, for help getting her food from the buffet. I think it was the last day or two that the dining room staff actually started helping her in and out of her chair and into her walker. Before that it had been family. It would have been nice, too, if the young man who took care of cleaning her room notice her walker had to be folded before she could get it in the room and offered assistance if he saw her coming or going.

    In the lifeboat drill, the passengers are told to ask for smaller life jackets if they have smaller children and we are told the elevators will probably not work. But what about those handicapped or elderly people who cannot climb up or down the stairs? Did the crew even know where those people were located? We certainly didn’t know if they knew and the answer we were given when we asked was cursory at best.

    Greeting passengers isn’t enough. Reading minds is a must. It’s a matter for training.

    We have traveled on most of the cruise lines and this one was one we had thought might be a little different since we hadn’t tried it, but we were disappointed. The only cruise line that meets my standard of great customer service and practically reading minds in the moderate to luxury class of cruise lines is the Disney Cruise Line.

    For more resources about training, see the Training library.

    I’m Jack Shaw and that’s my story, or one of them. I have more. Some even fiction like Harry’s Reality, an e-book about a different time when computers run the world and people can live a fantasy life if they choose or fight the machines that hunt them down if they refuse. Believe it or not, it has a positive ending. Check it out.

    Happy training.