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Grandeur


of the Seas
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CREATING A WOW
WITH THE
PERSONAL TOUCH

A conversation with Sanjay
Kumar, Hotel Director of  
GRANDEUR OF THE
SEAS
As Hotel Director of Royal Caribbean International’s
Grandeur of the Seas, Sanjay Kumar has approximately 650
crew members in his department.  They range from
entertainers to chefs to cabin stewards and, as seen below,
Kumar is quite proud of them, believing that they are largely
responsible for the ship’s popularity.
Mr. Kumar worked his way up through the ranks to his
present position.  Born and raised in Mumbai, India, he
worked in a five-star restaurant while studying for his
degree in hospitality.  “I hardly used to sleep,” he laughs,
but he was spurred on because he “had a great passion for
cooking.”
After working for one of the leading hotels in Mumbai,
Kumar came to Royal Caribbean as a chef and served on
Nordic Empress and Sovereign of the Seas before coming to
Grandeur.  Shifting over to management, Kumar was Food
and Beverage Manager on Grandeur for a year and a half
before being promoted to his present position.    
Being the Hotel Director on Grandeur, Kumar is charged
with delivering the “Wow Factor” that Royal Caribbean
seeks to bring to its guests’ vacation experience. But Royal
Caribbean is known for its giant ships and its advertising
often emphasizes features found on those ships such as the
ice skating shows, the surfing simulator, the Royal
Promenade, and the Johnny Rocket’s diners.  While not a
small ship in absolute terms, Grandeur of the Seas is
comparatively smaller than her fleetmates (e.g., she is less
than half the size of Freedom of the Seas in gross tonnage).  
Moreover, she does not have the features listed above.
Nonetheless, Grandeur is able to wow the guests.
“Royal Caribbean has five different classes of vessels - -
Freedom class, Voyager class, Radiance class, Vision class
and Sovereign class.  But every ship, every class of vessel
has its unique experience.  In a bigger ship, they have more
things to do whereas here it is a smaller ship, which
[provides] more of an [opportunity] for my crew members
to ‘wow’ the guests.  The way that we wow them is through
the personal touch. We have interpersonal skills and that is
why we are winners.  We win them through the personal
touch.  At the end of the day, people know you by name.  
You see the person at least two or three times a day.  I think
it is a positive advantage for us.  We do not have the luxury
of ice skating but what we have is the luxury of
interpersonal customer service - - the greeting and smiling,
owning the problem.  There is an intimacy here.”
“Week after week we get comments from the guests saying
‘this is a great ship.’ I have a huge amount of repeat guests
onboard the ship. Usually, we get more than a thousand
[repeat] guests, last time we had 1,500 [out of a capacity of
approximately 2,000]. The reason being not me but all the
crew members around - - they make it happen. The friendly
service and the helpfulness that they have is genuine.  That
is the reason people come again and again.”
“Before they book a cruise, [repeat guests often] look to see
who are the crew members.  When they come to the ship it
is always: ‘Is John in the dining room, is Rita there in the
gift shop?’  What does that mean?  That means they have
such a connection [to the ship]. That is what we try to
emphasize here - - to build a connection.  Once that
connection is there, they are with us - - a genuine
connection. They follow the crew members, they follow the
itinerary and most importantly, they feel comfortable on the
ship when they know the ship.  If they want to do ice skating
or whatever, they will go somewhere else.  Whereas here,
they come again to us just because they love the ship.”
Because so much depends upon the crew’s attitude,
motivating the crew is a key role of senior management.
“Everybody has their own way.  My way is pretty much
being open and interactive with the crew.  I walk around,
talk around and [am] out there.  When they come onboard,
we have a welcome onboard meeting.  There are five team
members of the executive committee and we go there and
we tell them who we are, what the ship is like, where we are
coming from and what is expected from them.  Being
straightforward and honest - - I think the secret to success is
just to be visible around and walk the talk.  If I say after six
[o’clock] all crew members have to be in a certain uniform,
I have to make sure that I am wearing the same thing too.  
When it is so visible, the people working on the cruise ship
see it and know it is not a fake.  It becomes a part of their
being too, automatically it becomes that.”
Another motivating factor is Grandeur’s itinerary. “We have
a lot of different itineraries.  This year, we started off with
cruises from Tampa, then we did two weeks transition
cruise Tampa to San Juan and San Juan to Norfolk, and then
from Norfolk we came to Baltimore.  In Baltimore, we are
doing three different itineraries also - - nine day cruise going
to the Caribbean, nine day cruise going to Canada, and five
day cruise to Bermuda.  Then, in the autumn, we are
heading back to Tampa which is a 14 or 15 day cruise.   
Those are all different itineraries.  It keeps us really active
and it motivates us - - change is always that.”
Different itineraries attract different demographics.  The
summer Bermuda and Caribbean cruises tended to attract
young families with children while the autumn cruises to
Canada attract an older clientele. “We get to know the age
demographic ahead of time so we know how to cater to
them.  We cater according to the guest demographics.  We
need to change our shows according to that.  We cannot
have the same high upbeat music when we go to Canada.   
With an elderly clientele, their needs are a little different.  
Sometimes they ask for something, they like piping hot
maybe.  We are fine with that.  That is why we are here.   
They are early birds so we have to open the Windjammer
somewhat earlier.  Instead of opening at seven o’clock,
maybe open a half hour early.  The same goes for the dining
room.   Instead of opening at seven thirty, we open earlier.  
So, we cater according to their needs.”
Catering to the guests’ needs also involves briefing the crew
so that they can answer guests’ questions.  For example,
before beginning a new itinerary, “we prepare our crew
members - - what is there in Bermuda to see, what is there in
Baltimore, what is the closest museum, how much is a taxi
ride from here to downtown, in Halifax, what is there - - just
a few tips so they can talk. Not only that but we put a
Power Point presentation on the Crew Channel [on the ship’
s television system] so they are fully aware of the ports of
call where we are going and what is there for the guests - -
some basic general knowledge for them.  There is a daily
briefing and we keep educating them.”
Even the most highly motivated crew would not be able to
make a ship a success if the physical condition of the ship
was not good.  While Grandeur of the Seas entered service
in late 1996, her crisp, clean interior belies her age.  “How
do you keep a 13 year old ship looking crisp?  It does not
look brand new but it does not look worn out either.  It is in
very good shape.  The key to this is constantly taking care
of the ship.  We have a department called the Facilities
Department and they are constantly doing the maintenance,
the upkeep of the ship.  You have seen them walking
around, dedicated teams taking care of that. It is constant
monitoring, doing inspections, and walking around.  Every
crew member knows just call 1800 and report what the
problem is and we will fix it right away.”
“We take pride in competing with newer ships too.  If we
dock tomorrow in Bermuda and the next ship is a brand new
ship and the guests come from there to here, we want to give
a wow experience to them.  When they come to the ship, we
want them to have a feeling of wow, knowing it is a 13 year
old ship. When they go back to their own ship, maybe that is
a two year old ship [and] naturally it is going to glitter but
when you compare between 13 and 2, I think we are going to
be in [the] upper scale”
CLICK HERE FOR AN INTERVIEW WITH THE CAPTAIN OF GRANDEUR

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CLICK HERE TO GO ON THE GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS PHOTO TOUR
A chef demonstrates how
to make a cake..
Grandeur's dancers.
A towel animal watching
the television in a guest's
cabin is part of the
personal touch.
Members of the crew bid
the guests farewell on the
final night of the cruise.
CLICK HERE FOR A PDF VERSION OF THE ARTICLE
Cruise ship inside interview - Grandeur of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - page 1
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