My wife and I feel that cruising is still the best vacation option out there, but the decline in quality of the amenities that we expect could cause us to rethink this issue. Yes, the "nickel and diming" upsets us, but what upsets us even more is the drastic decline in customer service. On both the Sun Princess and Sea Princess, the cruise director's staff seemed to give lip service to service. They were polite enough, but always acted like there was somewhere else they were in a hurry to run off to. On the Millennium, we encountered three serious instances of staff rudeness during a 7-day cruise. On the Majesty of the Seas, we were met with a lack of caring that we had never experienced before on RCI.
Lack of customer service? Unqualified staff? You bet! For a possible explanation into the cause, we need only look at the number of ships out there today and count the new ones scheduled for launch. Every new ship that hits the water requires a huge staff, and the only place the cruise lines can get experienced leaders is from the other ships in the fleet. The cruise lines can continue this for only so long before the experience base essentially ceases to exist. I think that's whats happening out there. Watch what happens to Princess service when they release their next Grand-class vessel. Watch what's happening with Celebrity with more Millennium-class ships to staff. Look at RCI with more Voyager-class behemoths to man. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
You hit the nail on the head. The pool of experienced staff has already been seriously depleted within the last few years. I especially noticed it on Holland America. Their core staff of Indonesians and Filipinos remains and they are great, but it was obvious on my last few visits that they were relying largely on new crew because the proficiency in English had deteriorated markedly from the days when I worked for them back in '93.
Their hearts are in the right place, but it is a fact that you will not get the best service from a large;y untrained staff, especially with a language barrier. And it isn't just HAL by any means - it is ALL the cruise lines with the exception of some of the luxury lines where the staffers tend to stay with the company a long time.
A secret of Crystal is that they seem to have the most satisfied staffers of any cruise line I have ever been on, so they stay with the company.
My daughter has a friend that works for RCI and he says experienced workers are spread thin and moral is bad. Pay isn't very good either. Try to be kind to those workers, they don't get paid very much and they work 12+ hours a day. I would be grumpy too if I had to work that long. 7:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.