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Old December 27th, 2001, 12:05 PM
Posts: n/a
Default Oh Captain, My Captain

I'm a little amused by the stern defenses of the sanctity of the Captain's table in the Summit Overcrowding thread. For those who haven't read it, apparently one or more passengers, frustrated by what seems to be severe overcrowding on the ship, stopped by to see the good Captain during dinner to voice a modicum of displeasure.

It is also said that one passenger, in a desperate attempt to turn the ship into Animal House, winged a dinner roll at the Master Mariner and managed to bean him.

So let's begin by saying that food fights in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant are less than dignified--especially on formal night--and those participating should be relegated to the brig for the duration.

But I don't agree that the simple act of stopping to chat with the boss to voice severe misgivings about a serious situation is all that bad. After all, one of the first rules of consumerism is to take your complaint as far up the chain as possible. Those who say that the "appropriate" venue is the hotel manager should consider the possibility that this and other remedies had already been explored to no avail.

My son, who flies jets for a major US airline, is approached all the time during dinner (usually tuna-on-bagel in a corner of the gate seating area) by passengers with problems. These problems, of course, have nothing to do with flying airplanes, but he always tries to suggest ways to address the issue, and doesn't take offense. Let's face it, people believe that the buck stops with the guy or gal with the stripes on the shoulder, and maybe that's not so awful, even if it isn't always true.

As for the supposedly inviolate wall around the Captain's table, gimme a break. While it's obviously true that courtesy should prevail, and that interruptions should not be a matter of course (at anybody's table for that matter), there are very few times or places these days where access to the Captain is possible. And, let's face it, all he's doing is schmoozing a bunch of travel agents and/or high rollers. They'll survive a 90-second diversion. There's plenty of free wine to swill while he's chatting with the interloper.

Finally, if the Summit Captain's response to the complaint really was something to the effect of "It's not my problem, I'm a technical man," it was the wrong answer by every standard of customer service. Anyone who serves the public is (or should be) taught that once a problem is presented to you, you "own" it. You do not blow it off, give it short shrift, or pass the buck. You absolutely don't. If the resolution belongs someplace else, you take it there yourself.

Now, it's probably true that there's not much that can be done on the high seas about a ship that's got 20% more people on it than it's built for, but the Captain should have at least expressed some sympathy, and sent a free bottle of wine to the folding chair in the elevator lobby where the poor soul was trying to eat his gala welcome dinner. :-)

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