This past week I went on my first ever cruise with Royal Caribbean on the Allure of the Seas. As with all things in my life, I take in details and experiences and try to tie them back to running a business.
Here are some of the very interesting lessons I learned while cruising to the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. Because I am rather long-winded, I broke this into 2 blogs.
- Infrastructure is key. One of the most beautiful places we visited was San Juan, Puerto Rico. The views and the city were breathtaking. After visiting the fort and taking in several other historic sites we stopped at a little restaurant to enjoy authentic Puerto Rican food. Halfway through lunch, all of the electricity went off…on the entire island. After chatting with the owners, they explained that this is an ongoing issue on the island and they simply have to wait for it to come back on. That day, it never did come back on and only the businesses with generators made money off of the several cruise ships in the port. The island businesses lost millions of dollars in potential revenue. We take it for granted in the U.S.A. our internet, electricity, government-provided services etc. As a business owner if we don’t have the right infrastructure in place we will constantly be left scrambling or sitting back and watching as our competitors pass us by. Invest in the proper services, be willing to pay more for quality and dependability and know it will pay off in the future.
- Time off is so important. The cruise ship we were on was the Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. It is 1,188′ in length and weighs 100,000 tons. It has 7 distinct neighborhoods, 25 dining options and employs 2,384 individuals. Think about that for just a second…2,384 dedicated to serving 6,000 or so vacationers. Here is the kicker, the crew is from all over the world, works 6 to 8 months at a time, 10 to 12 hour days and does not receive a single day off throughout their time on the ship. NOT A SINGLE DAY OFF. This was corroborated by several of the servers in the restaurants we visited. I just couldn’t believe it. My staff works exceptionally hard and oftentimes odd hours to serve our clients, but they and I need time to step away and recharge. Your work is only as good as your state-of-mind. I should point out the crew does receive 2 to 3 months off, but they can be recalled at anytime with no notice.
- Be transparent. As this was my first cruise I was surprised by hidden fees, added expenses, and mark-ups on items. I feel it is my responsibility as a business owner to be very transparent about pricing and any costs that will be passed along to the client. It is a discussion we have at the kick-off meeting, outline in the contract for services and communicate on a regular basis. I know a cruise is big business how they function is industry norm. It is also my job as a consumer to educate myself and ask the right questions.
I’ll tackle the other 4 lessons in Thursday’s blog. I know you can hardly wait.
However, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pictures (and places) of the whole trip. It is of Castillo San Cristóbal or Fort San Cristóbal. Castillo San Cristóbal is the largest fortification built by the Spanish in the New World. When it was finished in 1783, it covered about 27 acres of land and basically wrapped around the city of San Juan. Entry to the city was sealed by San Cristóbal’s double gates.
This picture and this place reminds me that life is so much bigger than our own minuscule problems or worries.