How to Avoid Negative Guest Comments on Cruise ship

Aug 16, 2016

Working on a cruise ship can be very demanding and stressful. Long hours, not enough rest, and missing home can contribute towards the unhappiness of crew members. The motivation for every crew member is money and positive guest comment cards. Money gives crew members freedom to plan their future further than the cruise ship and positive guest comments give them an opportunity to get more money faster. 

It is a fact that not every guest can be happy, no matter how organized, professional, and willing the crew members are. Sometimes we can have great cruises, but sometimes there are those cruises where we might wish we got sick and stayed in the cabin. Reality is that we cannot run away from our own reality and all we can do is listen and learn the wisdom from our peers and the crew members with more experience. Let's face it, experience gives you a ticket to your happiness as well as your guests. If this is your first contract do not despair, we have the knowledge and wisdom to teach you how to avoid those potential hazardous bad comments which might infringe on your future promotion.

We know that there is only so much you can do when you are just one waiter or just one housekeeper, but remember that you are not just one and you are a part of a team. Alright, we acknowledge that even though the cruising companies shove teamwork down our throats that the reality is teamwork most of the times is as science fiction on board a cruise ship as Star Track. We have established the previous to be true, but everyone in a department needs someone else to help once in awhile in a sticky situation when a guest is so upset and almost certain to write a bad comment about you. We call this the buddy system. 

Most often when a guest is upset to the point that there is nothing else you can say to calm the guest down, it is better to extract yourself from his or her presence because the guest has determined already that you cannot help in anyway. By close evaluation, you can determine if it is time to bring in your buddy in the situation simply so the guest can have a new face in front of him or her. This helps the guest because maybe this new person can understand him or her better. 

By now you know what the problem is and you can tell your buddy all about it so the guest can have someone with whom he or she can relate. You must be wondering how does this help you in not getting a bad comment. Well, it does because if you explain to the guest that your first language is not English – if it is, though luck – and that maybe you are not understanding him or her as well as you wish to, but that you wish to help him or her in every possible way because guests should feel like royalty on their dream vacation. This gives them understanding that you are human, but a human who cares about their happiness.

Proper communication is the best way to avoid bad guest comments. Crew members come from all around the world and sometimes communication is very much different in the States – the larger population of guests do come from the States – than it is back in their home country. Remember this and try your best to learn their way of proper communication, after all, you are the one earning your bread from them not the other way around. Do not despair, we have the key points which would help you start up your education in proper communication with guests. 

First, truly listen to everything the cruise ship guest is saying and nod so he or she knows that you are not simply imagining yourself back home with the family. Never interrupt the guest, not even to explain that you agree with his or her view. Do not cross your arms in a defensive manner because it presents to the guest that no matter what he or she says or does nothing gets to you because you are right and that is the end of it. Most often when people are frustrated about something it is not the thing they are expressing and arguing, but something different. The beauty in this is that most people give out what truly bothers them when they talk; this is to your advantage because not only you can help the guest with the problem he or she thinks is having, but also help the guest in whatever it is truly bothering him or her. Just remember, the real problem is almost never the obvious one.

Second, once the guest is done talking return the same message word-for-word back to him or her. This shows that you were really listening to every word he or she was saying about the problems experienced on a cruise ship and that you care so much about him or her that you are willing to remember and repeat every word back to him or her. This also helps you in understanding the true problem and not have further misunderstandings in how to help your guest. 

Third, when it is time for you to talk after making sure that you understand the message and problem the guest is trying to pertain to you, it is always nice to remind them that the guest is always right and that you agree with him or her 100%, even if you really do not. 

Fourth, we do not advise the usage of the phrase “I understand how you feel,” or “I understand” because in a sense it shows the guest that his or her problem is not unique, therefore the guest is not unique as well. Treat every guest as if it was your first one and every situation with the same manner of importance. 

Fifth, never use the word “but.” For some reason, the word “but” is perceived very negatively because it means that you are about to prove the guest wrong, or that what the guest is asking is not possible. In order to avoid bad comments, you have to present the facts to the guest with a proper choice of words which are not viewed negatively by the linguistic culture of the guest. We recommend the use of words such as although, nevertheless, however, and though. Even though these words are proper synonyms to the word “but,” it gives a sense of expression facts more than a difference of understanding between a crew member and a guest.

Sixth, if there is a possibility to fix the mistake or their unhappiness, tell the guest to wait for awhile and see if there is anything you can do to mild the situation. If there is nothing you can do, show them that you are willing to help as much as you can, but remind them that you are doing them a favor cause everyone likes the sound of that.

Finally, if there is absolutely nothing you can do, give them the idea to write their travel agent or the cruise company to change something because you agree with them and you understand that a policy is needed for the betterment of the cruise experience for every current and future guest. This does not only show them that the guests are really important and that they have the power to change something that might not be working, but also that you understand the importance of their concern. 

These are just a few advices which we have found to work pretty well in the cruising industry and customer service. If you have any other bits of advice filled with wisdom, please do share it with us and your fellow crew members in the comment box below. Remember that to us your opinion, knowledge, and wisdom matters and should be shared for the betterment of all.