I just returned from celebrating my twenty fifth wedding anniversary to my lovely wife Mary.
Our festivity took place on a cruise to Key West Florida, and Cozumel Island, Mexico.
I am new to cruise ships and cruises.
After my daughter Sarah took a cruise I went to pick her up at the Port of Miami.
The drive from my home was twenty five minutes and the entrance to the port was as easy as pie.
With the incredibly low price that she paid, and that I have the cruise ships at my fingertips, I decided to investigate for our 25th.
How could I allow such an opportunity to slip by me, when many others spend money and time on airplanes to get to what I have on my doorstep?
Carnival Cruise Lines offered a four night cruise with pre-paid gratuities and taxes for a mere $694.00 for both of us!
Where else can you find a five day vacation for two, with food, lodging, travel, entertainment, tips, and taxes for less than 700 bucks?
So this Monday we left on the Carnival Ecstasy and returned Friday.
The trip was memorable, fantastic!
I don’t have time to blog about everything.
But what I will list are some of things that so highly impressed me.
I am not one to be impressed by much.
I look to quality wherever I go, and quality is lacking in so much around me.
When I stepped onto the Carnival Ecstasy and eased into my first lunch, the excellence which surrounded me began to seep through my emotional pores.
Standing with many others at the buffet line, I was struck by the stir fry lunches that chefs were cooking “to order” for hundreds of people.
A wide assortment of raw vegetables all immaculately laid out for me to pick from, to then be taken to my chef, to be stir-fried with chicken, beef or shrimp.
A huge staff of busy people, always friendly, very human, available and relational, and never pushy, would lay everything down to engage the guest at all time and in all places.
I find this set of qualities as one of the most essential to our social world. Clearly, for Carnival this is their top priority.
A dirty plate would never be on the table for more than five minutes before someone removed it, and it was never removed without your permission.
An amazing amount of excellent food was available at all times and in all eateries.
Soft serve ice cream, yogurt, pizza and pastries, you name it!
There were hundreds of people eating every minute of every day. Yet they were all flawlessly and amply taken care of.
The sit down dinner at Wind Song of unlimited steak and lobster cooked to perfection was unforgettable.
The punctuality of the restaurants was impressive. The buffets opened at 6:00 AM sharp and closed just as sharply on time.
My sit down restaurant opened its doors at exactly 6:00 PM as announced.
At 5:30 AM as I went out for my sunrise photos, a full crew was already hard at work in the restaurants, cooking, cleaning silverware, mopping floors.
Coffee was available and so was a full assortment of pastries.
The breakfast brunch at the Windstar restaurant which included eggs benedict and bagel with cream cheese and locks, and assorted breads muffins and cakes was the best I’ve had in sixty years.
All games and shows began and ended punctually.
They were creative and well thought out.
Seventies music, sports trivia, TV show trivia, married people shows, game shows, bingo and hairy men competitions were some.
Little trophies were given to those who won the trivia show.
We were encouraged to enter into numerous, free raffles and contests.
There were free prices, free gifts, free food tastings, free liquor tastings.
For Carnival, freebies are a big deal!
What about for your customer and mine?
At the pool which was effectively laid out with lounge chairs for everybody, or so it seemed, great music from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s was on tap.
Crews were continually in the public bathrooms, or mopping floors, cleaning tables, or repairing things.
Our three waiters, Jorge, Iputu and Peter were first-rate. My chair was pulled out for me at every sitting. My cloth napkin was unfolded and laid on my lap. My water was continually filled. Bread was brought to me as I sat down. I could eat as much as I wanted to from a world class menu.
The professionalism, etiquette, friendliness, availability relationalibilty and wonderful humor of our waiters were unrivaled.
Our room and bathroom were cleaned impeccably.
There were bathrobes for both of us
Our concierge was gentle, serviceable and kind.
At night time our bunk bed was pulled out and our sheets pulled down ready for sleep.
The next day’s program and chocolates were brought every night.
The ship was exceptionally people friendly. None of the staff were in any rush. You could engage any of them casually for five minutes at a time, and laugh with them. Any questions about their jobs they would candidly answer.
Our on board bill of $37.00 was meticulously printed out for us before we left.
Customer service was opened from very early and manned by professional and courteous people.
Announcements about the trip were regularly broadcasted on the PA system.
Disembarking, which included releasing thousands back into the terminal from twenty six zones was executed with precision and order.
I can go on and on.
How does Carnival accomplish this with clockwork precision for thousands of people over a five day period of time?
I have no idea!
I wrote this entry as much for you as I did for me, so while the trip is fresh in my mind, I can take pointers for myself and my ministry.
What are you taking home from this entry?
Professionalism, hard work, kindness, politeness, friendliness, and an amazing knack for being very relational and totally human with guests while being busy at work, was the mark of the staff.
For Carnival, there is no doubt that guests take the top priority.
Clockwork punctuality was key for so much to seamlessly transpire.
The quality of the food was unflawed, and there was always tons of it.
Free goodies, free prices, and giveaways are so important to any good business, as it is to Carnival.
Games and shows were ongoing at all times so that no one could complain of boredom.
Anyways, let me leave you with a few pictures of this incredible trip with this amazing organization.
Doubtless to say that I recommend Carnival and their ship The Ecstasy for your vacation needs.
Carnival Cruise Lines for me is a Class Act Operation, hands down!
Our friends, Ruben and Rebeca
With the ship’s captain
With my friend Jianli
Where is the fire?
Iputu, trying out his singing skills
Iputu and Jorge should have been singers instead of waiters