What does 6 star mean?

The ship I work on is 6 stars. The company believes we offer more than 5 stars due to the great importance we give to offering a personalised service; a great example of this is that all team members are expected to learn the 132 passengers names.

But to me, 6 star service has a different meaning. Basically 6 stars just takes something that is in theory and practice very simple and makes it extremely complicated and difficult. For example let’s take serving a bowl of soup, in theory you go to the table, place the soup in front of the guest. With 6 stars, a bowl is not sufficient to eat soup, the bowl requires 3 additional plates for the soup to be placed on, I kid you not, the soup bowl is placed on a saucer, the saucer is placed on a slightly wider under liner plate, and the under liner plate is placed on a slightly wider show plate! God help you if you forget a plate!

Another example, we have sugar bowls that contain sachets of white and brown sugar and three other kinds of sweetener sachets etc. Don’t for a minute think you just refill the sugar containers when they are getting low on sachets. After a 10 minute meeting and checking of each sugar container we were reprimanded for not following guidelines. The guidelines stipulate that all containers will be filled with 16 white, 15 brown and 6 each of the sweetener (The above is an example of how not to refill the sugar container). But my question is, “what do we do when stores are running low on brown sugar as they currently are? Do we go with a 18, 13, 6 , 6 ,6 formation? Is there a contingency plan? EMERGENCY!

Ahhh, 6 star service, don’t think that washing and drying the cutlery, plates, glasses, bowls etc is sufficient. For the 132 guests, EVERYTHING that is placed on the table has to be individually polished, for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner! And dinner consists of multiple courses; appetizer, intermezzo (soup, salad, pasta), sorbet (like the soup drama above this requires 3 plates), main course, cheese, dessert and tea and coffee – that’s a lot of polishing!

One of my nemisis’s when I started in the 6 star service game was the serving of bread. You don’t just place the bread basket in the middle of the table for the guests to help themselves, oh no that would be way too practical and easy. Instead we squeeze the bread into a tightly folded napkin which sits in a basket. Then very smoothly and elegantly using a spoon and knife with one hand like a claw, you pick up the bread roll that the guest has chosen and place it on their plate. My first couple of weeks doing this was an absolute nightmare. I had the elegance and finesses of a drunken Mongolian butcher whose missing an opposable thumb! I had guests awkwardly sitting there waiting as I fumbled to try and pick up the rolls as if they were ice cubes. Guests would kindly say “how about I just get that”, and I come back with my get out of jail free card “looks like my fingers are still frozen from the polar plunge” and then an awkward haha, smile smile smile.

Before starting the job I thought I would get annoyed by the passengers, but I would have to say the passengers on the most part have been great, they are the part of the job that I love. We get two types of passengers, the passengers that are down to earth and are on a once and life time dream vacation to Antarctica and the most of every opportunity, and other guests that are on just another cruise and expect 6 star service, and fair enough as they have paid for it.

The worst guest experience I had, well not really the worst, but more comical, I felt embarrassed for the gentleman at how anal and childish he was. He came up to the desert buffet and asked me “where’s the creme brulee?”, “My apologies sir, it has been very popular today, we currently don’t have any but if you like I can ask the chef if we can get some more for you”, “what do you mean there isn’t any, they should of made more, it’s not good enough, I’m not moving until I get some!”, with this statement and the mannerisms of a stereotypical extroverted gay man (he was not gay, but this totally sums up his character) he crossed his arms and turns his head away with his nose in the air and stood his ground – I kid you not! After 5-10 minutes of him standing there like a spoiled 5 year old the crème brulee arrived, he rudely snatched it out of the runners hands and turned on his heels, nose in the air and victoriously marches off – ohhh what I would of done to slip some laxatives in there!

So folks, to wrap this up, 6 star service is where you take something that is simple and make it complicated!