Carnival Cruise Lines Defines Service

I often receive comments and messages from family and friends requesting I share more about my family and personal life in my blog. For those of you that are regular readers, you already know I tend to write more about my professional life as opposed to my personal life. So this post is dedicated to those wanting to see more of my personal side. For those of you that follow me professionally, don’t worry because I have successfully mixed business with pleasure.

My family and I took a Carnival Cruise in 2009 to the Bahama’s and Virgin Islands to celebrate my mother-in-law Mimi Priest’s birthday. During the trip, I happen to be reading a textbook from my MBA studies (this was the summer between my 1st and 2nd year of my MBA program at The University of Arizona). The book highlighted Carnival Cruise Lines as a business with a competitive advantage and detailed their differentiation from other cruise lines. I won’t bore you with all the business lingo one can expect from an MBA textbook but what struck me was their apparent and obsessive focus on exceeding expectations, especially since I would have the first-hand opportunity to experience whether that focus was true or not.

What does “exceeding expectations” mean? The text book stated that Carnival Cruise Lines strives to consistently exceed guests expectations in all areas of product, service, and support. Carnival’s vision is to consistently provide quality cruise vacations that exceed the expectations of their guests.

Below is a picture I took from the top of Paradise Point located in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands which was one of the excursions offered by Carnival. The last ship in the line is the Carnival Glory, the ship we called home for the week. Tip: If you ever find yourself in St. Thomas, be sure to visit Paradise Point and take in the awesome views.

Paradise Point with Carnival Glory

Like many cruise lines, Carnival will do the small things such as leave towel figures in your room that surprise you upon your return. Our room was made up twice daily and included turn down service at night with a chocolate on your pillow. Below is a photo of my daughter Amelia, 3 years old at the time, posing with a towel shaped to look like a stingray. The chambermaid was funny to have also put my wife’s, Layla, glasses on the stingray.

Amelia Posing with Stingray

To share proof that Carnival promotes their customer service differentiation, my wife during a tour of the boat’s galley (aka kitchen) took a picture of a tip graph that communicated to waiters how responses to customer questions affected their tips. She knew I was reading about Carnival and took this photo as evidence that behind the scenes, Carnival was communicating to their team members examples of exceeding guest expectations and how doing so was even connected to their pay.

Tip Graph from Carnival Cruise

For those of you that say I don’t share enough photos of my family in my blog, below is a photo of Layla, Amelia and myself prior to a formal dinner on the cruise. Carnival offers to take a photo of your family prior to one of the formal dinners, a nice keep sake from your trip.

Thompson Family Formal Standing

My family and I have also cruised Royal Caribbean Cruises and the Norwegian Cruise Line. Each has their own uniqueness such as different destinations and dining experiences. For example, Norwegian Cruise Line offers free-style dining which means you can eat at anytime. Carnival Cruise Lines schedules your meals so you must be present at a specific time to eat otherwise you must buy your meal from one of the premium restaurants. When my family and I in 2010 took a cruise to Alaska aboard Norwegian, I thought we would enjoy the Norwegian free-style meals. After a week oboard Norwegian though, we realized that the meal structure provided by Carnival such as having the same waiter for each meal that had your “sweet tea” (a Southern thing) and your favorite appetizer ready when you arrived turned out in hindsight to be a very nice benefit, further evidence of Carnival’s goal to exceed guest expectations.

So did Carnival Cruise Lines exceed me and my family’s expectations? Yes, we all felt that Carnival Cruise Lines exceeded our expectations as portrayed by my MBA business text book. We had a great time and couldn’t have asked for a better trip. My family and I now highly endorse Carnival Cruise Lines and can’t wait till our next Carnival Cruise Lines adventure.

Bonus: To see more photos from our 2009 Carnival Cruise, click here.

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