As Bari radio promised yesterday, it was a gorgeous day and the ship was buzzing with very happy ladies. The wind had turned to the North West and thus became a following wind which caused just a nice gentle breeze to blow over the decks. As this is a charter cruise, the ships daily life is dictated by the wishes of the charterer. Olivia charters approximately 5 Hal ships a year and have as a result a great experience with the Holland America operation. That makes the integration of our shipboard routines, into their program very easy. The biggest challenge this cruise is apart from the special entertainment that came on board, the items needed for the culinary demonstrations. Our show lounge was not designed to have a full kitchen setup on the stage and that means creative thinking with all the mobile cooking gadgets that we have on board. Luckily with induction cooking there is no need for open flames anymore which makes things a lot easier.

For our Guest Relations manager, this cruise is a little bit easier compared with others. Personally I find this the most difficult job on board. Meeting day in day out with guests who think they have to complain about something and quite often hold the GRM personally responsible. Sitting there, and then having to endure an un-reasonable tantrum with a polite demeanor is not easy. Genuine issues are quickly resolved, it are the not so genuine ones that make it difficult. Always facing complaints, seldom getting a compliment. I do wonder how you can do a job like that day after day with a happy smile on the face. This cruise all cabin assignments and other issues pass through the charterer’s representatives first and only come to the shipside if we have to do something with it, or if we are able to assist. So for one cruise the GRM has a little bit less pressure to live under.

Last night was a very good evening for the GRM. I did my introduction speech and although each officer got a warm welcome from the audience, the applause rose to a great crescendo when the GRM stepped onto the stage. Her being a lady helped greatly ofcourse in being appreciated. Where there is normally a polite clapping of hands, now there was cheering and whistling.

Staying with the GRM duties, one of the major jobs is, the tracking lost luggage and calming down guests who can not understand why it takes so long to get it on board. With a ship it is not easy at all. A hotel does not move and if a flight is delayed the suitcase will still arrive at the hotel abeit a few hours later. For a ship that does not work. If a flight is delayed, the ship might have already departed, so the luggage has to be redirected to yet another port quite often in another country. Here in Europe things are even more complicated by the fact, whether a country is inside the Common Market or not. It is much more complicated, custom wise, to get a suitcase from Venice to Dubrovnik (300 miles) then a suit case from Venice to Athens (600 miles). This because of the fact that Croatia is (not yet) part of the European Common Market)

Every cruise there is luggage lost, most often because the labels have falling off, or because the guest made a tight connection at an airport but the luggage did not. With the ship moving from port to port, it is not always an option to send the luggage to the next port because of the chance that it might miss the ship if a flight gets delayed. Quite often the luggage is send two ports ahead to make certain that it will get on board the ship, by having it there before the ship arrives. One item that is extremely important for your luggage, is to have your name and final destination outside but also inside of your suitcase. Un-identified luggage is opened up at the airport and an address inside does greatly help to speed up the process of tracing the owner.