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CRYSTAL CRUISES
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     “There are many companies out there that have great hardware,
some have even newer ships, but I think Crystal is very fortunate in
the people that we have and we have focused on that.  It is really the
software.  We are better than most of our competitors when it comes
to friendliness of service.  When we ask our guests what they like the
most about Crystal, they always say: ‘We like your staff.’  I do think
food and entertainment we are a niche above the industry too.  But
you can only achieve that if you have the right people working for
you.”

      Where does Crystal find the right people?  “We have a
recruiting office in Oslo, Norway and they do the hiring of all our
European staff.  We work closely with our owners in NYK and they
have a training center in Manila in the Philippines where our Asian
crew comes from.  We have worked with our recruiting agencies
since ‘Day One’ when Crystal was founded.  So, they know what
we want and we know how to deal with them.  These days, the key
element is that you have to operate globally.  There aren’t enough
people out there that you can restrict yourself to two or three
countries.  We really had to open it up to a wide range of countries
and that is what we do.”

      According to Cruise Director Scott Peterson: “They created a
culture right from the beginning at Crystal which recognizes that
every single person that works onboard is a valuable asset.  So, they
really put a huge emphasis on looking after the crew and making sure
that their comfort levels are taken care of, which then puts them in
the frame of mind where they would just give exceptional service to
the guests.”

      “There is so much more training done than ever before for
people before they even get on the ship to make sure that they
understand what the expectations are.  There is continuous training
that takes place out here now and it is not just your safety training it
is how you can look after the guests better.  And as we say here, you
are either someone who serves a guest or someone who serves
someone who serves a guest.”

      “You can only re-create [shipboard conditions] so much in any
so-called school environment.  A lot of times it is trial by fire.  When
you have that hands-on [experience] in the actual area that you are
going to be working in and you understand the limitations maybe of
your little section, I think you are going to grasp it a lot faster.  When
they see people model those basics and lead them, that is why it
really pays off in the end.”
       
       
“We have a tremendous amount of people come on in a
position. They get to know the Crystal way, they get to know the
Crystal ship and we always try to hire from within.  Any kind of job
always gets posted on the ship so that people already assimilated into
the Crystal culture [can] move up into another position that they are
interested in.”

      Once the right people have been found and trained, they still will
not perform in a luxury style without the right management style.  “I
think it is very much teamwork.  We sit down and discuss things
about how to make things better,” Captain Orland explained.

      “Everything is put into making a better, greater guest
experience,” adds Peterson. “In the old days a lot of times you
couldn’t get the captain, the chief engineer, the hotel director and the
cruise director and everybody together to pull on the same rope - -
they all had different agenda.  [At Crystal,] everybody pulls on the
same rope.”    

      Having a motivated, friendly staff and good facilities by
themselves are not enough to make a cruise a luxury experience.  As
Mr. Doppler noted earlier, there must also be onboard offerings that
are a cut above the norm.  “We deal with a very well-educated kind
of clientele with a certain level of income.  When we talk about the
entertainment, we don’t only talk about shows.  A very big focus is
also our enrichment program.  We bring out some high caliber
lecturers.  The educational part, the learning is a big part in our
product as well.  If you would compare it with the premium market
cruise, it might not be so important there.  The majority of the
clientele is there to have fun.  They like to have fun here as well but
at the same time, they sort of like to take something with them.  So,
we do focus on that as well,” Mr. Doppler said.

      “In general, [guests] do not want to be lectured to like they were
in a school hall or a university but they do want to be stimulated,”
continues Peterson.  “They love the world affairs, and they love if
we are traveling a region, they love the history of the region so it puts
things in perspective.  So, that is the beauty of what we are able to
offer.”

      “Recently, we had Mary Maitlin and James Carvel on. A lot of
people might think James Carvel might not match our audience
because perhaps our audience is a little more conservative but he fits
in so well because he is so accessible. And then Mary sort of plays
off of him and so the guests get both sides of the coin and get a
chance to see the people that they see on TV.  They get the chance
to have dinner with them or have lunch with them or just see them
walking around.  I think that is a real thrill for our guests that our
enrichment personnel, our entertainers, everybody is so accessible.”

      “The golf, again, that fits right into our demographics.  The
guests, a lot of them belong to top country clubs or love to play
golf.   We bring some of the top PGA pros in the nation on the ship.  
I had one this summer who, a few years ago, was named as one of
the top 100 pros in the nation.  You give people access to people like
that.  It is really extraordinary.  These are pros that work with the
pros that you watch on television.  When you have that kind of
access, there is nothing better if you are a golf enthusiast. It is just an
opportunity to glean some information from somebody is rubbing
elbows with the greatest in the world.”

      Crystal has also received praise for the computer classes that
form part of its enrichment program. “[It] is a huge asset for us
because people want to stay in contact with the world and because
particularly for our older guests, it is not what they were brought up
with.  They like to be brought into this world of computers.  For
some of them, it is the first chance they have gotten to send e-mail or
to surf the net.  We have got some really top notch instructors and
we recognize that it is a really important piece of the puzzle.”

      “We have five production shows, which in an 11-day cruise, is a
lot.   [In SYMPHONY’s] Galaxy Lounge you are right on top of the
performers.  So, you can’t cheat on the costumes, for example.  You
have got to make sure that it is top, top quality costuming because
otherwise the guests will see [the flaws].  They are really quite
elaborate, spectacular shows.”

      “We get name guest entertainers but we also get people who are
well thought of in their field who maybe are not well known.  It is
not like you see them on TV all the time.  But we will get Broadway
performers, we will get Vegas performers, you’ll get the Neil Sedakas
and people like that occasionally but our main focus is not so much
having a name out here but on having a good performer and giving
the people a good performance.”

      While Crystal’s cruises are highly-rated, the line recognizes it
cannot sit on its laurels. “The premium market [cruise lines have]
become much stronger.  They had to raise their level of product and
they did.  You can get a nice cruise with a good level of quality in the
four star range.  [That places pressure on Crystal to improve]
because you pay quite a bit more on Crystal than in the premium
market.  We want our guests to feel that it was worth spending a few
extra dollars.  I think there is pressure but being Crystal Cruises, we
have implemented numerous new things and we are constantly
adding to the amenities, we are constantly updating them and we are
constantly finding new products.  We only buy top quality, top
premium, top labels for people to buy or for whatever we offer on
the ship, high quality, which is important to justify that difference in
price.  I think Crystal is very good at that.  We operate at the highest
level.”

      However, change has to be carefully managed. Crystal has one
of the highest percentages of repeat passengers in the cruise
industry.  “They are a loyal group and we have managed to satisfy
them over the years.  That is why they keep coming back.  We want
to do that in the years to come as well - - they are very important to
us.  We are and always will maintain some of our successful
traditional features that we have in our product.  However, at the
same time, in order to attract new clientele and maybe even a little
younger group, you have to upgrade your product and when I say
that I mean software and hardware and offers and that is what we
have done.  We really want both.”
There are photos of CRYSTAL
SYMPHONY on the CRYSTAL
SYMPHONY Photo Tour

CLICK HERE TO BEGIN THE TOUR
Cruise Director Scott Peterson
The Galaxy Lounge
Cruise Ship interview- - Crystal Symphony - - Crystal Cruises - - page 2
MAKING THE CRYSTAL
DIFFERENCE

An interview with Captain Jon Orland, Hotel
Director Herbert Doppler and Cruise Director
Scott Peterson of CRYSTAL SYMPHONY (2007)

by Richard H. Wagner