Delivering Customer Service Excellence In Good Times And Crisis

Delivering Customer Service Excellence In Good Times And Crisis.jpg

We Saw Customer Service Excellence In Good Times And Crisis

The staff and crew of Oceania Cruises Marina delivered customer service excellence in good times and crisis. We wanted to take this blog post to say thank you!

Throughout our South America cruise, the customer service aboard Marina was at the excellent level we had come to expect from Oceania Cruises. But when the world COVID-19 issues caught up with us, that level of service delivery excellence did not waver. Personalized professionalism service at every level continued. We know there are a very large number of crew still onboard Marina tied up in Miami. Now that we are home, we wanted to take a moment to say thank you again.

It was a cruise we will never forget!

A Cruise We Will Never Forget

We started our 53 day South America cruise in Miami in January. When we walked on board, we were delighted to find so many crew members we knew from previous cruises. There were smiles and hugs. It felt like we had come back to family.

We had the most amazing cruise around South America. The first segment took us through the Caribbean, down the Amazon and into Rio de Janeiro. On the second segment we sailed from Rio to Buenos Aires. And on the final segment, we visited some of my favourite places as we cruised from Buenos Aires to Lima. So many blog posts were written!

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When we boarded the ship in January, the COVID-19 issue was a far away concern. As staff and passengers changed for each segment, the issue became bigger. But with so much of South America virtually virus free, we continued to cruise with no issues on land or on the ship. But then the COVID-19 pandemic situation caught up with us when we were denied landing in Peru. And then Chile. After 12 days at sea, we finally made it back to Miami. And home to Toronto.  Along the way we learned so much about travel and cruising in a crisis situation.

When we left the ship in Miami, all of the crew remained onboard. Some were released in a few days to return home. But so many of crew remain on the ship awaiting news of when they will be allowed to travel back home. And home for so many of the crew is far away. In places locked down due to the virus. And planes just are not travelling to their homes.

This gave us a chance to quickly send out this message of thanks. We thank the leadership and crew of the Oceania Cruises Marina for an amazing cruise around South America. For taking such amazing care of us during all days onboard the ship. Every day we ate amazingly well – every 90 minutes if we wanted to. The entertainment crew kept us entertained from morning to night.

We were stranded away from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But we could not have been in a better place. Our friends and family worried about how and when we might get home. But they were all envious of the great luxury cruise ship we were on. And they knew we were cared for well! The Oceania team was delivering customer service excellence in good times and crisis!

The Leadership At The Top

We met the original leadership team of the Oceania Cruises Marina at the first Captains Party. Over the 3 segments that made up our South America cruise, some of the senior team changed. But the quality of service delivery never faltered with the smooth handoffs.

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We started our trip with Captain Luca. He was often visible around the ship. And helped to unveil the new onboard Spa.

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In Rio de Janeiro we got a new captain. Captain Leo took us south around Cape Horn and up the west coast of South America. He made sure we got to circumnavigate Cape Horn and took us on an amazing day trip to see the Amalia Glacier.

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Oceania Cruises Marina Amalia Glacier Chile.jpg

But Captain Leo’s challenge came when we were denied entry to Peru. And then after heading south for a day, refused entry to Chile. He worked ceaselessly with his leadership team and Oceania head office to find a route and timeline to get us home. Daily updates kept us as informed as we could be.

The General Manager (GM) Dominque was with us on the entire journey. He excelled at being visible at all times and everywhere on the ship. So many days we saw him on the gangway as we headed off for fun day. And we found him back on the gangway when we returned.

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Below the Captains and the GM, there was an excellent leadership team. Maybe the best we have ever sailed with! While they had administration and staff management responsibilities, they spent many hours every day keeping their eye on every aspect of service delivery. They ensured everyone was delivering customer service excellence in good times and crisis!

Customer Service Comes From Leadership and Culture

We wrote many times about customer service excellence. Strong leadership that are passionate about delivering customer service excellence are essential to set the culture. This culture was evident at every level of crew we found onboard Oceania Cruises Marina. And the true mettle of leadership was demonstrated in crisis.

We were delighted to find such excellent customer service from crew throughout the first 50 days of our cruise. And then our 53 day cruise was extended to over 60 days when we were stranded at sea during the COVID-19 pandemic. But during that entire extended cruise, the staff and crew continued to deliver with the same smiles. And a high standard of customer service. We knew their lives were in tumult, many more than ours. But every day they showed up eager to make our final journey the best it could be.

We can’t say enough about the great leadership team onboard the Oceania Cruises Marina for our South America cruise. Through the good and the challenging times, we knew we could count on the team for an amazing experience. And a safe journey home! We could see they were delivering customer service excellence in good times and crisis!

We Never Really Needed To Leave Our Room

For this cruise we booked a larger butler room. It gave us space to spread out. And in the last week, it provided a safe place when we needed to be alone. We were already practicing the soon to be mandatory social distancing and self-isolation.

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Our room stewards throughout the journey provided first class service several times a day. Even if some days all we wanted was papers and chocolates. And our Butler Ankit made sure our every need was met. He went above and beyond to exceed our expectations.

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Oceania Cruises Marina Room Stewards Merlin and Christian - Delivering Customer Service Excellence In Good Times And Crisis.jpg

Thank you to our butler and room stewards for ensuring we experienced five star service for every day of our trip! Our day began and ended with superb customer service in good times and crisis!

We Ate And Drank So Well Onboard The Ship

From the Food and Beverage Directors (Laurent and then Freddy) to the Restaurant Managers (Boris and then Srdan with Hala) and on through the Maitre ‘Ds, every aspect of providing us with exquisite dining service delivery was managed with care. Chef Frederic and then Chef Farid managed a large culinary team that never failed to tempt us to eat far more than we needed!

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Whenever we cruised with Oceania Cruises, it was easy to remember why Oceania was voted “Best Cuisine At Sea”. The food was plentiful and fresh, even when the guests may have been afraid we would run out of food! When possible the chefs shopped in the local ports for fresh food. At every restaurant, for regular or special meals, we ate so well!

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Every morning we started at the cappuccino bar. Well David went and brought me handmade cappuccino and a treat. One of the butlers onboard called him my “other butler”.

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If we needed a snack before dinner, Afternoon Tea was served every day. Whether it was a regular tea or one of the specialty teas, there was always a great selection of sweet and savoury delights. A pastry chef briefed the team every day so that every staff member could address our every question.

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Oceania Cruises Marina Food Afternoon Tea - Delivering Customer Service Excellence In Good Times And Crisis.jpg

Oceania Cruises Marina Food Afternoon Tea.jpg

Oceania Cruises Marina Food Afternoon Tea.jpg

Oceania Cruises Marina Food Afternoon Tea - Delivering Customer Service Excellence In Good Times And Crisis.jpg

Throughout the South America cruise, there were many special wine tasting events. On other trips, we did many of the wine pairing sessions . On this cruise, the Executive Cellar Master Loredana offered a nightly wine bar. Oceania Cruises has a great wine list. But the wine bar provided an interesting range of different wines. Served with large plates of tapas for wine pairings.

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Oceania Cruises Marina Food Loradana Cellar Master Wine Bar.jpg

We want to thank the entire Food and Beverage team. They are to be commended from the top to every person managing the restaurants to the waiters and chefs. Every day we were delighted to be presented with amazing choices and delicious food. Always served with a smile. We probably interacted with the food services team the most during our trip. And at every encounter they excelled at delivering customer service excellence in good times and crisis!

The Entertainment Team Kept Us Laughing And Dancing

There was entertainment available from morning to late night onboard Marina. The Cruise Director Paul kept his eye on every aspect of entertainment delivery. We had dinner with Paul one night when there was a sound issue in the main lounge. He would not rest until it was resolved.

There were sports games and intellectual challenges to keep the passengers entertained. Bean toss, crazy golf, shuffleboard and ping pong kept people moving. The Social Director Hillary hosted many of the social events. And kept us sharp with the daily Mensa challenges. Group trivia and games kept Paul very busy through the cruise.

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There was music onboard in every venue. Whatever your taste of music, there was something for everyone. Our favourite was the Sync Session Band. They kept us dancing. Whether it was on the outside deck or in the Horizons Lounge.

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We never got bored on our 60+ days at sea. There were just too many options for entertainment!

Special Sea Days Provided Unique Entertainment Options

Paul made sure to engage the leadership team in providing entertainment. While this was great fun, it was also the chance to see the leadership team in a more casual pose. Whether it was “Liars Club” or the “Friendly Feud”, these sessions never failed to make us laugh.

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On a sea day, every crew department participated in fun sessions to engage with the passengers. Each department set up special games or skills to be completed. It was a great way to meet some of the people we didn’t see every day.

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One sea day, the officers participated in an Officers Challenge. They competed with each other. All in the spirit of fun!

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Oceania Cruises Marina Entertainment Officers Challenge.jpg

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We crossed the equator the first time on an Oceania Cruise trip through the Middle East and into Africa. But on our trip south around South America, we participated in a second crossing the equator ceremony. It was fun to see the passengers be initiated with the “kiss the fish” rite. But when we ended up circumnavigating South America on our way back to Miami, we again crossed the equator. For this second ceremony, there was a slight change made. The ceremony now was about “disinfect the fish”. A tongue in cheek reminder about the COVID-19 situation we were in.

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Oceania Cruises Marina Entertainment Equator Crossing - Delivering Customer Service Excellence In Good Times And Crisis.jpg

Oceania Cruises Marina Entertainment Equator Crossing.jpg

Oceania Cruises Marina Entertainment Equator Crossing - Delivering Customer Service Excellence In Good Times And Crisis.jpg

Whether it was a regularly planned entertainment event or a special session put on for a sea day, we were entertained every day of our South America cruise. We want to thank the entertainment crew of the Oceania Cruises Marina for making us dance and laugh. Even when there were days all of us might not have felt like it. We received customer service excellence in good times and crisis!

Thank You For Delivering Customer Service Excellence In Good Times And Crisis

We wanted to stay thank you to the staff and crew of the Oceania Cruises Marina for delivering service excellence in good times and crisis!

There were too many people to thank by name. But we hope you know who you are! We never ventured far on the ship without a camera in hand. And we wanted to remember the staff and crew!

From the top to the bottom, the Marina staff and crew was awesome! We had a cruise around South America we will never forget.  And we learned so much about travel and cruising during a crisis!

The stops along the way were amazing. But the experience we had onboard the ship made every aspect of the journey special! And for that, we want to stay “Thank You” !!!

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Thank you for delivering service excellence in good times and crisis! We wish all the staff and crew of the Oceania Cruises Marina safe journeys home. We hope to meet again on the high seas!

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Delivering Customer Service Excellence In Good Times And Crisis.jpg
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About TravelAtWill 557 Articles
Travel blogger and photographer! Scuba diving, luxury cruising, chocoholic, sea and sunshine addicts, camera attached and just generally curious! Join us on our adventures!

34 Comments

  1. Glad you had a fabulous trip and happy you made it home safely. Hope to see you again someday in Grand Cayman.

    • Kelly, Thanks! It was an amazing cruise around South America. So many great sights. And an amazing ship experience. But we were glad to get home. We definitely want to return to Grand Cayman! Take care and stay safe. Linda

  2. Aw! I am so glad that they offered such amazing service. It’s not often that they get kudos, so it is so sweet that you did a post on them! I’d love to take a 53-day cruise – during safe times, of course. It sounds like a dream!

    • Jennifer, The South America cruise was amazing. So many great destinations. Hard to be stranded at the end with 12 sea days. But it was a great spot to be stranded. And we did get a bonus trip through the Panama Canal. Linda

  3. It is so interesting to read all these things about the cruise ship in times of crisis. The staff seems nice even in your photos and the foods looks like you had indeed everything you needed. Also the room looks fabulous, so I can understand why you enjoyed it so much. Good for you had a bonus trip in the Panama Canal !

    • Iuliana, We could not say enough good things about the staff and customer service on this trip. From the minute we boarded until the last minute we left, it was awesome. They made sure we enjoyed every minute. And even when we knew they had their own problems. A true test of culture and leadership. Linda

  4. Wow a 53 day cruise, that sounds amazing! That must have been scary being denied landing in Peru and Ecuador though. It’s really nice that you were able to see the captains and managers often. That is usually not the case with leadership teams. That is so good to know that Oceania cruises provided excellent service in both good times and during the crisis. I know many people on different cruises who didn’t have such a great experience once the panic began. So kind of you to give them a thank you too!

    • Elizabeth, We experienced amazing customer service during our whole cruise. We knew that the crew were dealing with their own problems and uncertainties. But never did the service falter. So sad so many are still on board waiting to go home. But it did give us an opportunity to share our thanks. Linda

  5. What a trip, Linda! So you were one of those many thousands of passengers who experienced first hand the Covid-19 onboard a cruise ship. I always wondered what the atmosphere was onboard these cruise ships during the crisis. It’s great to hear that the staff went to such great lengths to make the passengers feel at home and to helped everybody feel cared for.

    • Anda, It was a very strange experience. It felt weird to enjoy the great luxury cruise ship we were on, free from the worry about the virus. But the uncertainty in the early days. And the changes we had to make made it stressful. I know there were lots of bad stories. We wanted to share our wonderful experience. And say thank you to the many staff still stuck on board. Linda

  6. It looks like you had an excellent service for all cruise. I especially like such a wide suggestion of the entertainment during the journey. Most of all the concerts, because I love music very much. But “kiss the fish” looks so funny, it is great that you had such a wonderful time during a crisis.
    The food looks lovely. Your article encouraged me to take an Oceania Cruises after a pandemic.

    • Agnes, It really was an amazing cruise. And the service was great throughout the regular cruise and after we had challenges. So much to keep us busy and entertained. And boy did we eat well! Linda

  7. I really wanted to read about someone’s personal experience of being aboard on a cruise ship when Covid19 struck. And I am so glad I came across your post. It is heartening to know that the cruise staff kept up impeccable service levels even in times of crisis. Positive stories like yours are definitely the need of the hour. Especially for the cruise industry at the moment.

    • Soumya, We are glad to share our experiences cruising during the Covid-19 pandemic. It was not great – and may prove to be expensive – but overall we were treated great and the final outcome was good. Not so true for many others that got stranded on cruise ships. Linda

  8. Oh my what an experience! So glad to hear that you are well and that you were so well taken care of. Especially after hearing the horrendous situation that cruise line found themselves in Japan. And thank goodness you had also booked a larger room with space to sit and enjoy the view. Over too months being stranded out in the ocean is a super long time! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  9. Oceana Cruises sounds amazing. Good to them that they stepped up when everything was in chaos! Companies like this make me want to support them even more. I hope other people out there have had similar experiences when dealing with things like this!

    • Joe, We were delighted with the customer service we got at all points in the cruise. After the crisis hit, we continued to be amazed that every day we were greeted with smiles. Even though we knew that the crew had their own challenges. And so sad that so many of them are still waiting to get home! Linda

  10. It sounds like you had a great experience on board the ship. After reading about so many horror stories of other passengers contracting the illness, it’s nice to read a positive story. You can tell from the photos that the staff were helpful and continued their jobs even during amid the crisis.

    • Lisa, I felt it was good to share another perspective about being stuck during travels. I can’t say it wasn’t stressful. But the staff did everyone to manage the stress level. And we could not be more grateful!!!! Linda

  11. Oh you were not allowed to return to home due to COVID 19 crisis and had to remain on ship. I heard and watched such stories on TV and it sounded very scary to me, but never thought you were also part of it. I loved reading your positive story and how South America cruise was helpful during this pandemic. It is great that they provided everything in your cabin room and you maintained a great social distancing while on cruise. You are really adventurous.

  12. I am happy to know that you were able to go home safe and healthy. Glad you had a wonderful experience too despite the crisis. Kudos to the staff and crew for managing it well.

    • Clarice, It was stressful to not know when or if we would get home. But the crew did a great job of taking care of us. And helping us to enjoy the situation we were in. Linda

  13. This is a beautiful tribute! Excellent service in good times is itself a great thing, and maintaining that in the times of crisis is just mindblowing! I love how you’ve mentioned the names of the people from the captain to your bulter, I really appreciate it. Its good that the crew continued with their games & entertainment to keep up the spirit of the passengers! Hats off!!!
    I’m glad you’re safe back home. I hope the crew also has managed to get back home….

    • Bhushavali, We really wanted to remember some of the great crew and experiences we had onboard our South America cruise. We were well taken care of. And so sad so many had so much trouble getting home! Linda

  14. Inspite of many challenges of COVID19 you managed to enjoy your cruise with less hassle. I dream of cruising as well, and thanks for giving a good feedback for their amazing services. Will you be cruising again when all things back to normal?

    • Blair, We will definitely cruise again. We have learned a few lessons from this (next post) but the overall experience was great with this cruise firm. A great set of destinations and awesome customer service. We will be back! Linda

  15. I read many stories about Covid-19 so it’s great to hear about your experience. It’s amazing that Oceania Cruises Marina could still manage excellent service in this pandemic time. I’m happy that you could get back home safely and hope the crew could do it too!

    • Ha, we really wanted to share our positive experience. While being stranded was stressful, we had an amazing cruise. And experienced awesome customer service. Not all stories are like that! We too are glad to be home. Linda

  16. So glad to hear the Oceania staff treated you well and you still got to enjoy your cruise. So glad you made it safely home to Canada. You’re right, great customer service comes from great leadership. It would be interesting to see how the passengers in the same situation but on other cruises lines were treated like the ones on Holland American right now.

    • Debra, We were certainly happy to have been onboard our ship during the crisis. We could not have asked for better treatment from the staff. Even when they faced such uncertainty! We were glad to get home. But sad for how many others were not able to get home in a timely manner. Linda

  17. It was so heartening to learn that despite the pandemic scare and with so many people on board the crue kept on doing their job as if nothing had happened. It’s during these times that the true character of people and the organizations they represent becomes evident. Happy that you were able to come back unaffected. It seems you continued to have a great time with great food, great music from Sync Session band, lots of other entertainment and mostly undivided attention. That’s what customer delight is all about.

    • Roy, It really was amazing how well people continued to deliver excellent service in light of the challenge they themselves faced. They made us forget at times the reality of the situation. It became all too real when we finally got home. Linda

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