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PRINCESS CRUISES
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RUBY
PRINCESS
BUILDING A
TEAM FOR RUBY
PRINCESS

By
Richard H. Wagner
RUBY PRINCESS TOUR 1

RUBY PRINCESS TOUR 2

RUBY PRINCESS  TOUR 3

RUBY PRINCESS TOUR 4

RUBY PRINCESS TOUR 5

RUBY PRINCESS TOUR 6
When Ruby Princess went into service in early November 2008, she was met by
positive reviews by the media and by outstanding ratings and comments by
passengers.  A few weeks later, this writer was on Ruby’s fourth cruise and
there were none of the service or technical problems one normally associates
with a new ship.  Indeed, it seemed like a ship that had been in service for
several months manned by a veteran crew.

I asked Dirk Brand, Passenger Services Director of Ruby Princess, how Princess
Cruises had managed to bring this about.   Mr. Brand, a native of Germany who
now resides in Spain, previously headed the hotel department on Cunard’s
Queen Mary 2 as well as the hotel departments of Princess’ Grand Princess,
Coral Princess, Diamond Princess and Caribbean Princess.

The process began by assembling a crew.  While “there are new people on the
ship to get some fresh blood, some new ideas,” Princess took a large number of
people who had had experienced bringing out new ships.  In addition, they
brought in a substantial number of people who had worked on the crews of
Ruby Princess’ close sister ships Crown Princess and Emerald Princess as well
as the highly-rated Caribbean Princess.  “They came with experience in the large
ships, Super Grand-class vessels.  They know how the operation works here
although we have implemented quite a few new service initiatives here on this
ship as well.”  

“They choose a lot of strong key players that they knew would make it
successful.  A brand new ship with a lot of new concepts is a lot of responsibility
and there are a lot of tasks for those people.  We wanted to make sure that we
started off on the right foot.”

About two weeks before the ship was scheduled to leave the shipyard in Italy
where she was being built, the crew started to move onboard.  At that point, the
ship was substantially complete as a vessel but it was up to the crew to move the
furnishing onboard and make her into a place where someone would to spend
their vacation.  Brand believes that it was during this period that the crew started
to come together as a team rather than a conglomeration of a number of
disparate groups (e.g., Emerald veterans, Crown veterans and new people).

“It starts in the shipyard.  If you build the ship, it is like it becomes your baby
and it really bonds a team.  We did a lot of crew motivation.  The corporate
office organized a filming of the [crew in the] shipyard called ‘We are Ruby
Princess.’  We did a little ceremony for the crew, a little cocktail party event,
some presents.  For the inaugural, we gave them a backpack with ‘Ruby
Princess’ on it and a tee shirt with ‘Ruby Princess Inaugural Team’ as a thank
you for the launch and set up.”  In addition, the crew members received a copy
of a group photograph of the ship’s company taken on the open decks

Each individual crew member received a certificate of recognition from the ship’
s master and from Brand in “recognition of the hard work of launching the ship
and to say thank you for their amazing work.”  It was an individual certificate so
that the crewmember could include it in his or her personnel file or in their CV.   
“Those are the little things, trying to form the team and make them proud of the
product and to have them involved.”

“I am a great believer that the way you treat the crew is the way the crew is
going to treat our guests.  If they are happy on the ship, they will make a happy
customer.”  Accordingly, “we have a crew deck forward with Jacuzzis and
pools.  We have separate rooms for the crew - - crew messes, crew bars, a
conference room, an Internet room, a training room where they can do training
and studying, we have a gym, a disco.  We do a lot of crew activities as well - -
crew tours, crew events, crew shows.”

Beyond these tangible rewards, Brand also believes that the fact that officers,
managers, and crew all had to pitch in to finish the ship, helped to bond the
team.  “It doesn’t matter how many stripes you have, in the shipyard, everybody
helps together.  I pushed and lifted palettes or boxes, picked things up and helped
with things.  If this comes from the senior management, it shows a lot of respect
for the team and it bonds and makes a happy family.  It doesn’t matter who you
are at the top of the team, motivate them, say thank you.”

“On this ship, we have a very good management team which is relaxed.   We let
the good and strong people do their job.  We don’t have to be all the time on
their backs or looking over their shoulder.  We are not afraid to be hands on and
help the person rather than to poke him on his shoulder and say: ‘Hey, why didn’
t you do this’ rather than say: “How can I help you?”  If the crew feels that it is
a happy smiling crew and a relaxed team.  There has to be the right balance of
assisting, monitoring, giving positive recognition. It works.  The positive
feedback comes back.  What you give comes back to you.  I live it everyday and
I believe in that.  My team is managing the same way.”

Ruby Princess was delivered to Princess in Italy and thus she had to cross the
Atlantic before her maiden voyage out of Florida to the Caribbean.  The crossing
was made without passengers and so this time was used to train the crew.  As
part of this, Brand opened the ship’s restaurants, including the specialty
restaurants, the bars and lounges to the ship’s officers and crew.  The production
shows were performed in the theater and movies were shown in the outdoor
Movies Under The Stars.  The spa and the Sanctuary adults-only retreat area
were also opened to the crew during this voyage.  This accomplished three things:

First, “the crew in the outlets, [were able to] train, cook, exercise and practice
and so we [were able to] find out before customers came on the ship if it all was
working well.  If you wait until the day the [first] cruise starts, you will have a lot
of problems and glitches.”

Second, “the crew and the officers became familiar with the ship so they know
what is where, they know the product.  They had a taste of the experience so
they can recommend it to the guests.  They are knowledgeable about the
locations, of what it costs, what is included.”

Third, it was “a thank you for their good hard work.  As a result, they own the
product more.  They get proud of it.”

Following the crossing, “the ship came out, it was successful, we received
outstanding comments from the corporate guests we had onboard, from the
press, from the media.  It was fantastic from day one.  We had great reviews
and really outstanding scores with regard to passenger satisfaction and crew
attitude.”

“We started off really, really good without any problems or issues - - seamless,
very smooth.  But we are constantly reviewing based on guest feedback - - if we
can improve, if we can learn, if we need to make something different.  We are
learning day to day.”             
Passenger Services
Director Dirk Brand
In addition to their other
duties, crew members give
demonstrations for the
guests.
The crew pools and hot tubs on Ruby Princess.
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Cruise ship interview - Princess Cruises - Ruby Princess - Passenger Services Director Dirk Brand
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